Ben Fast

Culture - Community - Museums - Travel

Tag: Social Media (page 1 of 2)

This one time at (Social Media) Camp

This weekend I got to experience the 7th annual Social Media Camp, the internationally famous annual conference all about social media and how to make the most of it.  What an experience!  I love social media, but primarily stay to the mainstays (or what I thought were the mainstays) of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a bit of LinkedIn on the side.  Turns out…there’s so much more.

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Social Media Camp is not a beginner’s guide to how to use social media.  The dozens of amazing speakers and hundreds of equally amazing attendees really get into the business of the platforms, how to use them most effectively to garner a return on investment, how to maximize potentials, reach the largest audiences, track every single piece of data imaginable.  There were some entrepreneurs struggling to get their heads above water with one platform or another, but they are there to learn more than just how to upload a cat video (unless that’s your business, then kudos to you).

I was repping the museum field by wearing my #itweetmuseums badge on Friday. Social media in the museum/arts and culture field can be a fight some times, but holds so much potential!

I was repping the museum field by wearing my #itweetmuseums badge on Friday. Social media in the museum/arts and culture field can be a fight some times, but holds so much potential!

The atmosphere around Social Media Camp reflects this, people in casual wear (usually not the social media managers, they were pretty snazzy) spending more time looking down at their computer screens and phones than up at the speakers, digital conversations happening twice as fast during the sessions than face-to-face ones in between.  Lots of people coming up to each other saying “I’m @TweetHandle1, we’ve been chatting all day,” followed by “oh yes, good to meet you in person” (though they’d never say “at” – I learned that the hard way).

So many screens!

So many screens!

I was only able to attend the first two days of the camp, the Thursday afternoon lectures and the Friday sessions.  On Friday, I attended five talks and the lunchtime keynote by the amazing/inspiring/hilarious Jesse Brown, a busy day at any conference!  I attended Corporate Intimacy: A Challenge to Brand Storytellers (Jordan Bower) – #RoadToRyerson: Earning Attention With a Proper Social Campaign (Bailey Parnell) – Sell Your Story on Snapchat (Sunny Lenarduzzi) – The Other 83%: Why Brands Should Look Beyond Their Own Content & Competitors on Social Media (Cam Steed) – and Don’t Miss the Customer Next Door: Location Based Marketing (Jason Jubinville).

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I really enjoyed the storytelling aspect of Jordan Bower’s talk, felt it was relevant to my field, and loved the marketing examples he gave, many of which I saw in my Tourism Management marketing classes.

 

 

There were highs and lows, most notably about how relevant the talks were to my museum and cultural field.  It really was no secret – and not much of a surprise – that most attendees were using social media as a way to sell things.  That’s really the only way to make money by using it, and the main reason for business to want to spend the money on it.  But it left out what in my mind is a big part of social media, and that’s engagement for non-marketing purposes.  A cynic (or a social media manager) would tell me everything is marketing, and I’d agree: anytime someone engages with or even sees your account, they are receiving your message.  But that doesn’t mean social media can’t be used in a way that isn’t about purchasing as an end goal.  This is the classic struggle for arts and culture organizations who have mandates that can’t be justified by purchases or impressions alone.  Their success is measured by how people engage with the content, what people learn, how the people in turn better their communities, and how the peoples’ views change after interacting with the subject matter.

There seems like so much potential on Snapchat, and Sunny Lenarduzzi did a good job showing it, but I just can't wrap my head around it and how using it justifies museum mandates.  Perhaps it's the impermanence, or the often (in my mind) low-quality/pointless/base nature (production value and content) of the app, but the storytelling aspect/potential did catch my eye.  I'll do some more thinking and experimentation and write a follow-up post later.

There seems like so much potential on Snapchat, and Sunny Lenarduzzi did a good job showing it, but I just can’t wrap my head around it and how using it justifies museum mandates. Perhaps it’s the impermanence, or the often (in my mind) low-quality/pointless/base nature (production value and content) of the app, but the storytelling aspect/potential did catch my eye. I’ll do some more thinking and experimentation and write a follow-up post later.

Obviously Twitter did not catch my sarcasm and disdain for the app...

Obviously Twitter did not catch my sarcasm and disdain for the app…

In this regard, I felt like an outsider.  Often at museum conferences, I’m banging my head against the “what’s the point of social media” wall, but at this conference it felt like attendees weren’t recognizing the social value and other perspectives of the tools at hand (and it simply could be those other perspectives just aren’t relevant to the business world).  On the first day, when I introduced myself as working in museums in a non-social media position, people’s reactions seemed like I was not going to be a useful networking connection (though if given time they were interested in how I used my personal social media as a way to build a community of practice and as a professional development tool).

While at times I felt like a loner in my views, it was more revealing that I hardly met or saw any museum/arts/cultural workers other than self-employed entrepreneurs.

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Bailey Parnell's talk about the #RoadToRyerson campaign was insightful and something I think museums could (and should) emulate to create authentic user-generated and message-first content.

Bailey Parnell’s talk about the #RoadToRyerson campaign was insightful and something I think museums could (and should) emulate to create authentic user-generated and message-first content.

I was, however, able to meet up with some mutually-interested folks, most coming from the non-profit world, who also felt the selling mentality was over the top and that the message was more important.  Bailey Parnell sold me on her talk by tweeting me ahead of time saying she was focusing more on content, on how (in her case) user generated content curated and commissioned by an organization led to content driving a message and resulting in positive community building.  Jordan Bower’s talk on storytelling, Cam Steed’s talk on non-branded content, and even Jason Jubinville’s location-based marketing research app hold great potential for museums and could be easily shaped to suit a museum’s mandated engagement needs.  Maybe I’ll see if Paul Holmes will let me do a non-marketing talk next year…

Of course we had to get up to some shenanigans!

Of course we had to get up to some shenanigans!

Social media win, or just proof I discovered GIFs during the conference?

Social media win, or just proof I discovered GIFs during the conference?

I learned a lot at the conference, even if some things weren’t perfectly tailored to my field.  There is so much possibility in terms of connection, research, marketing, engagement, content, and creation in the field, and if you’ve thought of it chances are ten people have already made millions on it selling it to Google or Facebook.  And though I learned Snapchat is so much bigger than I thought (8 BILLION views per DAY!), I still generally think of it like this (you just HAVE to click the GIF):

I also had the opportunity to meet some really fun people, having bonded over pre-session tweets about mutual interests, in-session tweets about Millennials, and post-session tweets about “where are you?”  As always, the best part about a conference is the interactions you have, the relationships you create, and the potential for future connections in the workplace or life.

Thanks Paul, until next year!

Thanks Paul, until next year!

This time, it’s personal!

Or rather, this time it’s professional!

I am a product of the social media generation.  I’ve had a Facebook account since I was a teen, and while reluctant at first, I’ve been tweeting up a storm since 2012.  For my peers and I, social media isn’t so much a networking tool, it’s a method of conversation.  It is our playground, our dating scene (sadly), our news feed.  And far too often, we consider its impact on our professional image last.

There are no split personalities on social media, if you know what I mean.  We post what we post, with little regard for what people see or think, across all our platforms.  In fact, the only split personalities we might have is between online life and real life!

For three years I have been tweeting about my career in museums and time in school just as much as I’ve tweeted rants at MLB umpires, gratuitous travel pictures, and obscure curling stats.  It’s been great!  I’ve made some great friends and contacts in the museum world – and around the world – at the same time as having once-in-a-lifetime tweet-versations with Canadian Olympians.  My Twitter feed is linked to my Instagram account, so there’s been more than one image of food as well…

Professional networking, Instagram shares, sarcastic hockey commentating, curling, and Peter Mansbridge all together on my Twitter feed.  Any connection?  No, not really, just my unorganized social media profile...

Professional networking, Instagram shares, sarcastic hockey commentating, curling, and Peter Mansbridge all together on my Twitter feed. Any connection? No, not really, just my unorganized social media profile…

But is that what my Twitter account should really reflect?  I have currently 587 followers, probably 350+ of whom are museum professionals or students.  Do they really care about the recent Grand Slam of Curling exploits of Team Mike McEwen or that I’m having Raisin Bran for breakfast?

The answer, I’ve come to accept, is probably not.

While awesome, these aren’t exactly reflecting my choice of careers…

Ok, I’ll stop sharing my old faves.  Well…just one more

I recently attended the BC Museums Association conference in New Westminster, BC.  Conferences are great places to make professional contacts, do some networking, and tell people to “follow me” (it sounds narcissistic, but it’s kind of fun to do!).  One of the contacts I made there was Luc, a really cool guy who works in the museum field in Vancouver.  We followed each other on Twitter and both participated in some museum Twitter chats, I also tweeted about the Canucks and he about craft beer, and then one day — WHAM, he’s got two accounts!

Luc had had the realization I was waiting for: professional networks should be professional.  I don’t know if Luc noticed or cared about my non-museum tweets, he followed me with his new account after all, but it made me think more about my image and ‘personal brand’.  I sent out some emails to him and other museum colleagues asking how they found having two accounts and this afternoon I decided to make the split.

My new professional account (with my RBCM head shot!) and bio.  Why waste the effort (and more than 10,000 tweets) I used to build a network of over 550 followers?  And anyways, who is going to look far enough back to realize those weren't all related to work...?

My new professional account (with my RBCM head shot!) and bio. Why waste the effort (and more than 10,000 tweets) I used to build a network of over 550 followers? And anyways, who is going to look far enough back to realize those weren’t all related to work…?

But I didn’t split it the same way Luc and some of my other friends have by making a new professional account.  Instead I kept the momentum of my ‘personal brand’ going and made a new account for my personal tweets.  Most of my followers are from museums anyways, and they’ve followed me because of our previous interactions, whatever those may have been.  Instead of hoping they’d follow me back again, I’m now devoting my account to professional tweets only and having my sarcastic hockey talk and random image shares on my new account where I don’t really care about my follower/following ratios or tweet analytics.

A little more reflective of my west coast upbringing, and not tied to museums, is my new personal account @BenFastBen. With my bass-face profile pic and a beach scene to match, this is where my other half will live from now on.

A little more reflective of my west coast upbringing, and not tied to museums, is my new personal account @BenFastBen. With my bass-face profile pic and a beach scene to match, this is where my other half will live from now on.

So, if you find yourself wanting a daily museum fix, follow along at @benfaster just like you might already be doing.  And if you have a burning passion for Canadian sports, travel chats and cat videos, you can now find the other real me at @BenFastBen.  Or do both!

Museum Partnerships Paper: The final result

The final course of my MA was taken as a transfer credit from the University of Victoria’s Cultural Resource Management program.  Throughout the course, taught by the amazing Dr. Candace Matelic, I worked on a unique project on museums working together to build capacity for community engagement.  Instead of just writing a standard research paper, I decided to expand the notion of research (and of community engagement) through the lofty goal of having museums and museum workers partner with me in finding case study examples of museum partnerships.  You can read more about my original call for examples here.

The entire project was fascinating to work on, both for the content but also for the ability to connect with museum workers around the world.  I do feel I completely blew up the traditional research methods for this project, but it was remarkably liberating and exciting to do so.

The end result was a rather large paper that found some interesting projects and attempted to draw conclusions from the patterns of partnership.  I found that the process and simply asking the question “do museums partner for community engagement purposes” was the most beneficial.  I was excited and inspired by the feedback I received and the interest shown by the community, so hopefully this will just be the tip of the iceberg when looking into this topic.

There were many people involved in this project and I owe a big debt of thanks to them all.  Sadly, not everyone could be featured in the paper as it already had a broad scope and was over word count, but many more people sent tweets and emails and they too helped shape my research and findings.  Dr. Matelic also deserve a big thank you for allowing me to pursue this along my own process and for reading through the entire paper.  Her encouragement was invaluable.  Thank you and all the best in your work!  The paper follows:

Social Media at Fort Rodd Hill

During my time as Marketing Assistant at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites, I was able to help my supervisor with some of her social media responsibilities.  As the de facto “younger generation,” I was occasionally called on for help finding the right hashtag and explaining some of the ways my peers used social media – all within the Federal Government’s guidelines and regulations of course!  It was a good opportunity to see how a corporate identity is promoted on social media and how tweets are used for promotions not just engagement.

I helped create some historical social media posts by using archival photographs, and also scheduled posts when needed.  All Parks Canada tweets need to be (or are recommended to be, not quite sure the exact situation) branded with the site’s information, include a photo, and direct the viewer to the main webpage.  This means we only have 88 characters to work with when all is said and done – and we need to save room for the French translation!

The following samples are tweets I created during my final few weeks at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites.  I enjoyed looking through the old pictures and connecting our site to the happenings in today’s world.  I even made into one tweet myself!  Keep up to date by visiting the Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

English:

French:

I loved finding this photo.  The Dutch Liberation celebrations are some of my favourite images, and this soldier has a great camera!  I would love to see what images he captured on May 5, 1945…

 

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