In June the Tang’s Instagram account (@tangmuseum~follow us!) had just over 70 followers. But after 11 weeks of strategically following, liking, posting, and #-ing, we now have 203 followers! So right now we’re trending at the same level as the average 14-year-old Instagram user (lol)… But really the growth is awesome and we hope it continues at this rate.
As far as marketing experience, I know as much as I learned in MB 107, where I gained a decent understanding of market shares and strategies. But I never had to seriously use these skills to sell anything. In class we focused on tangible consumer products not experiences, like going to an art museum. I study sociology, not art, art history or business, but I found that thinking through a marketing perspective—analyzing purpose, perspective, audience, logistics—came to me easily as an extension of my studies of social interaction. When asked to consider who our visitors were, I was just using applied social demography: i.e.; which classes, genders, races, age groups are interested in the services the Tang provides.
This summer I primarily focused on which classes, genders, races, and age groups use the different social media resources that we are looking to expand.
The first thing we (Michael Janairo (Director of Engagement) and I) considered when thinking about expanding our audience was the structure of the Tang community. In June I would say our Instagram presence reached mostly Skidmore students and Tang employees, our radius was small and centralized. Growth occurred when we started re-examining our community. We began thinking about our Internet self as an institution in the art world, a world that can be accessed, reified and solidified through social media. So we decided to consider the connections the Tang already had, ones that were obvious but idle. While we are a contemporary art museum, a facet of a much larger, global community of artists and galleries, we had not, up until this summer, largely pursued or maintained these relationships on social media.
I began going through lists of artists that currently have work up at the Tang, and then searched through names of our previous Openers and Elevator Music artists to see who was on Instagram, Twitter, and had a Facebook page. I discovered which galleries represented these artists and if they were present on social media as well, then followed and supported them. These actions were often reciprocated.
Ex.) After locating recluse artist, Nayland Blake on Instagram (@naylandwblake) I decided to test this connection by posting a photo I took from Masked, an exhibition curated by Celia Caldas ’14, that showed a pairing of his piece Lap Dog and a photograph by Jeanne Dunning. I tagged Blake in the post and he commented (!!): “This pairing makes me so happy!” Which, as simple as it was, felt like a real triumph. I showed it to Celia who also felt excited because Blake, while an active user of social media does not often make personal appearances.
So here’s some math I came up with: Making social media connections within a specific community a.k.a. following our “friends” / “family” (artists / galleries / art makers &/or supporters) + Posting photos relevant to them (a.k.a. their art) = More likes, more followers, stronger sense of community.
This project helped me understand how social media interactions, while often perceived as trivial, or considered illegitimate, do help maintain important relationships—which is a challenging concept, but one that is just as equally exciting and freeing.
August 14, 2014