The Fitz on Instagram
Eimear Reilly (Documentation Assistant, Coins & Medals) and Elenor Ling (Research Assistant, Paintings, Drawings & Prints) discuss their work to promote the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Instagram account.
While the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Twitter account is well-established and has thousands of followers, the Instagram account is still in its infancy. Like Twitter, Instagram is a social networking service, but it is based on sharing images and videos rather than text. Over the last three months Eimear and Elenor have been working on building followers and increasing the profile of the account. In this blog they list some of the various methods they’ve used and relate some preliminary findings.
‘The Fitzwilliam’s successful Twitter account primarily promotes current and future events, so with the Press & Marketing department we discussed the idea of taking a different approach for Instagram. Since
both of us work behind the scenes, we thought we could take advantage of the fact that we come across more opportunities to act spontaneously, and could document the multitude of activities throughout the museum’s offices, seminar rooms and closed galleries. We saw the potential for the account to allow us to easily portray all of the exciting work which happens on a daily basis but which the public very rarely get to see. We wanted the photos to open up the work of various, often unseen, departments like registration, technicians and documentation. We saw that it was also important to focus on good-quality photographs and create visually pleasing scenes to reflect the specific interest of Instagram users.’
Eimear and Elenor’s various methods:
- To take behind-the-scenes shots of the preparation that goes into an exhibition. This kind of shot helps to highlight upcoming events or exhibitions and work in tandem with our other branches of social media and marketing.
- To encourage people to visit by highlighting our objects in interesting ways, such as beautiful shots of the striking building, ‘spot the detail’ quizzes, or by showing visitors and employees interacting with different objects, and sharing their interest and passion.
- Documenting day-to-day duties, such as cleaning pictures on Mondays when the museum is closed to the public. This picture of one of our technicians dusting a large frame was our most popular image at one stage.
- Instagram gives us the opportunity to interact with museum visitors and non-visitors alike albeit in a less traditional way. One of the most fulfilling aspects has been viewing and occasionally reposting our followers’ photos. We actively try to search and ‘like’ posts relating to the museum, and this created a new and unique dialogue with our visitors. We also ran an interactive campaign for the re-opening of the 20th-Century gallery, asking our followers to help ‘curate’ the re-hang by voting on their favourite print. The image with the most votes was declared the winner and was then hung on the wall. Visitors can now visit the museum to see ‘their’ print in person.
- To experiment with a number of different hashtags based on the content of the photos, allowing users to search for related images or on broader themes like ‘museums’ or ‘exhibitions’. We have also used hashtags to tap into national and international campaigns. This is an exciting way of being able to contribute to larger movements or events within the museum sector, and again works in tandem with our other social media accounts. We are as yet unsure how this reflects or influences how much exposure a post gets, if it has an impact on the number of ‘likes’ a post receives, or if we attract new followers. However, it has also allowed us to group our posts into themes, for example #FitzOnTour, which links posts highlighting our objects on loans to various national and international venues.
Overall, we have found Instagram to be a really creative output for lots of different members of staff who might not normally get to, and it’s been a wonderful way of showcasing our work and our collections in a non-traditional sense.
Follow the Fitzwilliam Museum on instagram @fitzmuseum_uk