University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Lining ‘em up

Ina Pruegel, our Digital Engagement Specialist, and Richard White, our Marketing Coordinator, are current Fellows at the Arts Marketing Association’s (AMA) Digital Marketing Academy. 

The Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) is an online learning initiative that enables digital innovation across the arts, culture and heritage sector. Fellows are invited to devise, test, develop and share digital marketing experiments with the help of a leading digital specialist as their Mentor. The experiments are developed on real audiences in order to trial and adopt good practice, and achieve new ambitions and perspectives in digital marketing.

In their first post Ina and Richard explain the direction of their experiments, and here they give us an update on their progress.

wth-globe‘We’re getting there… honest!’

This is how we reassured our excellent mentor, Ron Evans, over Skype. We even turned the webcam off so he couldn’t see how desperate our faces were. (In truth, it was down to having a poor connection.)

Ina and I have been hugely excited about starting our digital marketing experiments, but it’s fair to say it has taken time bringing them to fruition. The main aim of our experiments is to create deeper engagement with our social media audiences by embracing live streaming and using the technology to offer behind the scenes access to museum stores. The added extra is before or during these broadcasts, audiences get to decide what happens. I know, I know, these are crazy times we live in.

We’re going to live stream using Periscope and Facebook Live. These relate to our strongest social media channels and those of our individual museums, which is important, because we want to be able to share the success or failure of said experiments and ensure they’re relatable to the museums’ own regular communications channels.

The live streaming is part of a wider project called WTH? which stands for Why is this Here? rather than What the hell? (obviously, we like the fact it could be interpreted that way). WTH? is an opportunity for re-discovery and re-interpretation of objects currently in storage, while opening up a conversation with our audiences about the behind-the-scenes life of a museum. Each Museum is encouraged to identify its most difficult, bizarre, controversial, unwanted, overlooked, and unknown objects, which can then be used to give different perspectives on specific objects, research, collecting practices and collections care through a humorous and entertaining lens.

The first live stream will take place at The Whipple Museum of the History of Science. Two objects from The Whipple’s collection have been identified, which happen to be vastly different from each other, and will be presented to audiences on Twitter and Facebook a week before the live stream. You see, they have to decide which one is talked about with the Whipple’s curator. It’s not a huge dilemma to be presented with, but, in the first instance, we’re keen to see what kind of engagement we get voting wise, whether that translates across to live viewers, and why one item is chosen over the other. We also like the ‘ta daaaa!’ moment of uncovering the chosen object during the stream.

Live streaming on social media is relatively new to the University of Cambridge Museums. The usual factors have come up prior to filming, such as security considerations within stores, wifi strength, who actually presents the film and talks to the curator (not me, please), how we deal with questions from viewers, what time of day we stream and much, much more. We’ll also be measuring engagement on both Twitter/Periscope and Facebook Live to create a baseline to test against for future experiments.

The first live stream is on Monday 24 October at lunchtime, so do tune in. Afterwards we’ll be running three more experiments in different museum stores. Each one will develop from the previous stream. I’ll admit now to being stupidly excited about implementing a ‘Choose your own Adventure’ in one of the stores, but that’s for another day.

Finally, huge thanks need to go to Ron, our mentor, who has been extremely patient, encouraging and insightful. We are nearly there, Ron. Honest!

Update: The first experiment, live on Periscope from the stores of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, has happened. Watch it online.
Rest assured, another blog will follow where we update on successes, failures or something in between.

An edited version of this blog was originally written for the AMA.

One comment on “Lining ‘em up

  1. Pingback: Live streaming with a touch of ‘WTH?’ | University of Cambridge Museums

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2016 by in Behind the Scenes, Culture, Goal 2, News, Society and tagged , , .
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