Using digital media to reach further

“Eight years ago, we were saying the Internet is the way to become broad,” Ms. Bernstein said. “I think we should be thinking about that in moderation now.”

The New York Time’s Museums See Different Virtues in Virtual Worlds highlighted two different museums using social media to expand their reach to audiences–the Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While the first is a smaller, locally-focused art museum, and the other “an isle in the global archipelago of leading museums,” both museums had similar goals in overcoming geographical boundaries by engaging far-away audiences through digital platforms, the goal echoing that “anyone, anywhere, could participate and would, if given the chance.” Both of these museums explored their options in achieving this goal, and ultimately these two museums diverged in their results: the Met continues to utilize Instagram to give global audiences sample tastes of what the museum has to offer, whereas the Brooklyn museum continues to use their internet presence to give their local audience more intimate insights of the museum’s featured artists.

The article brings up a great argument that digital media’s reach can vary greatly, depending on the goals and intentions of the user. The Met was (seemingly) successful in achieving the global reach that the Brooklyn Museum wanted but could not attain. However, that does not go to say that the Brooklyn Museum is failing to use such technology successfully in their own right; they simply have a different goal from the Met now. The article describes the Brooklyn Museum as using social media’s reach in moderation, with attention now being shifted from a global reach to attain brand-recognition, to a local reach to attain a more well-rounded and intimate artist-audience relationship. Yes, social media holds the potential to transcend physical boundaries and reach global audiences, but there is still value in smaller-scale digital outreach, like when the Alhambra police department began using Wechat to engage with their local (majority) Chinese-speaking population. Although this isn’t an art example, it was an example to me that demonstrated that local audiences are just as important as global audiences; we (and museums) should not lose sight of that capability when it comes to utilizing digital platforms. The impact is different, but effective and meaningful, nonetheless. The Brooklyn Museum therefore can’t be considered necessarily less successful than the Met in their use of digital outreach.

And another point that I found interesting was the Met using Instagram themselves to reach audiences. It goes to show that when trying to reach a larger audience through social media, museums have two options to go about it: either through their own account and their own content, or through their audiences’ accounts by providing engagement.Being in LA, we have so many public art pieces such as murals and even specialized museums (Broad, etc) that allow us to–and actually encourage us to–blast them on our accounts as a tool to generate social capital (while at the same time giving publicity to the art.) The Broad’s digital presence is successful by using the latter, and I wonder if the Met has done that as well.

4 thoughts on “Using digital media to reach further”

  1. Social media definitely introduces a huge potential for museums to engage their audiences. And this potential has been well recognized by many public and private industries and institutions. What important, I think, is knowing how to get the museum community engaged in these conversations. With the Brooklyn, it makes a lot of sense to focus conversations around local issues and happenings, and things pertaining specifically to their collection. For the Met, however, the situation is different because it has more of a national personality, and concentrates on bigger issues regarding exhibitions and museums.

  2. I really liked your point about the Alhambra Police Department and how their seemingly small shift to digital platforms (through WeChat) has had a big impact in reaching a more global audience. You could almost say that a shift like that has just as much influence as the Met’s Instagram, because while the Instagram provides insight to the workings of a museum, something like WeChat is allowing people to transcend language barriers.

  3. I agree that it’s an interesting marketing strategy to basically use your customers personal accounts to gain attention. I actually think a lot of exhibits are specifically commissioned with this in mind, like the rain room at LACMA and the infinity room at the Broad: it’s free publicity with very little effort.

  4. I completely agree that places in LA like The Broad are tailored to have users post to their own social media accounts. When reading this article from the NY Times about The Met, it didn’t really occur to me that the digital director didn’t mention any such efforts and instead had been entirely successful on their own accord by posting from their own account. I wonder how their target audience would change if they encouraged such interaction.

Comments are closed.