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[NOTES] When Your Community Does the Blogging | MuseumNext Indy

Notes for the presentation "When Your Community Does the Blogging: What, Why, and How," at MuseumNext Indianapolis, September 2015. This talk discusses the Community Blogging programs at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

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[NOTES] When Your Community Does the Blogging | MuseumNext Indy

  1. 1. NOTES:When Your Community Does the Blogging: What, Why, and How MuseumNext, Indianapolis, September 25, 2015  I’mLori Byrd-McDevitt,the Managerof Digital Content&Social Mediaat The Children’sMuseumof Indianapolis.  In myrole I alsomanage the museum’sblog,whichiswhatI’ll be focusingon today.  I’ll be sharingabouthow we’ve involvedourlocal community inthe blog,  and I’ll share waysothermuseumscando the same.  I love my role as social mediaand blogmanager, because itallowsme todirectly interactwiththe museum’slocal andonline community.  Everyday I getto see whattheythink,thanksto Tweets,Facebookcomments,and eventheirownblogpostsabouttheirvisits. o All of thismade me thinkaboutthe role of the museum’sblogasa platformforcommunityparticipation,whichtiedintomyownresearch interestsasa museumstudiesstudent.  For my mastersresearchI establishedthe term “OpenAuthority,” whichisthe coming togetherof museumexpertise andcommunity contributions. o Museumsare unique intheirpotential tobe a confluence of cultural resourcesanddiverse communityperspectives.  By invitinginvariedpointsof view,museumscanuse ourinherentauthorityto openup the interpretationof content,makingitmore inclusive toall.  I like touse thisspectrumto show whatOpenAuthoritylookslike. Manymuseums use crowdsourcingasa wayto activelypartnerwithvisitors,especiallyonline.But there’smuchmore nuance to openauthoritythanjustcrowdsourcing.  Thisspectrumshowsthat there are more conservative approachestocommunity participation, whichcan thenalsoleadtomore progressive approaches.  Contributory projects are whatwe considercrowdsourcing,andare usually more passive forthose whoparticipate,withthe museumtakingthe active role.  WhereasCollaborative projectcanbe describedasCommunitySourcing. o CommunitySourcinginvolvesbiggerasksmade of a more committed,loyal community.These projectsrequire participantstobe more active and motivatedintheircontributions, andthat’s whyCommunityBloggingfalls here.  And thenthere are Co-Creative projects,whichinvolve true participatory interpretationcomingequallyfromboththe communityandthe museum. o Thisis a topicfor a whole othertalk.Todaywe’ll be focusingon Communitybloggingasa community-sourcedproject.
  2. 2.  So nowlet’sdive into CommunityBloggingatThe Children’sMuseum  Our blogstartedWAY back in 2010, whenwe kickedthingsoff withmultipleposts a weekwrittenbystaff acrossthe museum. o Staff blogginghasgone onso longthat it’sgottenquite involved.Pictured here are ourCreative Directorandour Directorof Collections,who’ve repeatedlycollaboratedonfunnypoststohighlighttheirdivergence in perspectivesonexhibits.  Overthe yearswe incorporatedmore postsfromguestbloggers,oftenexperts or artistswhowork withuson exhibits.  Fallingbetweenguest bloggingandcommunityblogging,picturedhere onthe rightis a photofrom a 2013 post by the founderof our local Instagram community,sharingabout hisexperience atourfirstmuseum-ledInstameet.Our relationshipwiththisparticularcommunityhasremainedstrong,since.  From earlyonwe alsousedthe blog to feature visitorstoriesthatwere submitted as part of contests.These were one-off contributions,sothey’re agoodexample of an early crowdsourcedapproach.  We didn’ttruly experimentwith the ideaof Community Blogginguntil late 2013, whenwe beganto thinkabouthow museumfamilies couldwriteforthe blogover an extendedperiodof time.  The renovationandexpansionof ourbeloved Playscapegallery wasagreat opportunity,because localswere soexcitedforitsunveiling. We wantedtoletour families playapartin reintroducingPlayscapetothe world.  So,we createdthe “Playscape 5,”consideringitapilotfor a future,broader communitybloggingprogram.  We directlyreachedouttothree familieswhorepresentedthe age-spanfor Playscape,andwhose parentswere knownsocial mediainfluencersinthe city.  Overa periodof six months,eachfamily blogged forusonce a month.  Beyondthe blog,theyusedthe #Playscape5hashtagtotweet,Instagram,andVine theirexperiences inthe gallery aswell as learningmomentsat home.  The resultof this blogseries wasthatreaders couldfollow alongonthe Playscape 5’s journey, andsee the new gallery throughthe eyesof familiesjustlikethem.  The successof the Playscape 5 ledusto confidentlymoveforwardwithaformal, recurring,andbrandedCommunityBloggingprogram, whichwe call The Children’s MuseumBlogAmbassadors. o Shownhere are the various brandedgraphicswe use on differentsocial platforms,whichyoucansee are personalizedforeachblogger.  We selectourAmbassadorsthroughanapplication-basedcall outtoour local bloggingcommunity. o We reachedoutto around75 active bloggersandreceived24 applications, which,at 1/3 of the community – was muchmore than we anticipated. o So we were thrilled… o In the applicationwe specificallyaskedabouttheirpersonal passionsand unique perspectives.Aswellassamples of theirwritingstyle. o We selectedourapplicantstocreate amix of pointsof view,agesof children,andunique experiences. o The reach and influenceof their personal socialmediafollowing doesplay a role in theirselection,but isnotthe mainpriority.  Similartothe Playscape5,theyeachblogonce a monthfor six months, usingthe #BlogTCMhashtagduringvisitsandwhentheirlearningextendsintothe home.
  3. 3.  Afterourfirstclass of Blog Ambassadorswrappedupinearly2015, we began planningforroundtwo.  We received18submissions,andselectedfourforoursecondclass of Ambassadors,whoare bloggingforus currently fromMay through October, and three bloggersforourthird class,whichwill kickoff inNovember.  Thistime we were happyto receive anumberof submissionsfromDaddybloggers, of whichthree were selected.  We’ll getmore intothe logisticsbehindthe Ambassadorprograminasecond,but let’sfirstchatabout WHY you shouldtryCommunityblogging.  Firstof all,itprovidesan invaluable inside lookintowhatyour audiencesare thinkingandexperiencing, overanextendedtime. o I like tosay that it’sa directline to your community’sbrain!  Our Evaluationstaff have especiallylovedtheseblogs,becausetheyprovide such unprecedentedinsights.Ourbloggersoftenjoininfocusgroupswhere the evaluationteamcanaskadditional questionsabouttheirexperiences,too.  Andthe blogsalsoprovide anendlesssupplyof photos,quotes,andmemorable momentsthatwe can repurpose. We all know it’snotalwayseasyto gather photosof these authenticmomentsaround the museum.  The secondreasoninvolvesRadical Trust,whichcallsforaquote fromColleen Dilenschneider: o “Radical trust isthe confidence thatamuseumhasintheircollaborations withonline communities.Institutionsdisplaytrustinthese communities by beingtransparent,open,andhonest.” o AndI love thatquote because it tiesindirectly toOpenAuthority,which seekstohave an opendialogue betweenamuseumanditscommunity.  You showradical trust byempoweringcommunitybloggerstotake the reinsof your museum’splatforms.  It seemsscaryto hand overcontrol of the blog,because it’sseenas thisepicenter of a museum’sauthenticvoice.Butthat’swhythe community’sperspective isso valuable — it’sauthentic.  We’re luckyat The Children’sMuseum tohave such incrediblyloyal and enthusiasticfamilies.Communitybloggingisourway of showingour appreciation, and our trust, really, of acommunitywhoisso graciouswiththeirsupport.  If you value whatyourcommunityhasto say, why not give themwings—letthem say it on your blog.  Colleen’squote alsomentioned Transparency,whichis expectednow inadigital worldwhere institutional responsescanbe made quicklyandopenly.  Transparency alsoforcesan organization tobe okay with laughing at itself, andto knowitsstrengthsas well asitsweaknesses.  Openingupthe blogto a communityperspective notonlyincreasestransparency, it showsthatyou’re confidentwithwhoyouare.
  4. 4.  Nowthat we’ve gottenthroughthe “WHY,”let’stalkaboutthe “HOW.”  It all starts with connectingwith your community. o If there’sa specificaudience orgoal foryour blogprogram, you’dwant to considerhow toconnect withthatrelevantsubsetof yourcommunity.  For us,it startedby connectingwithourlocal mommybloggers,whichsoon expandedtodadbloggersandalso,because of ourcontentareas,geekand pop- culture enthusiasts.  We beganto buildourlistof contacts simplybykeepingthe informationfrom bloggerswho requestticketsinexchangefor reviewingthe museum.Whenthis happenswe alwaysask if they’re interestedinbeingonourlistof bloggers,and theywill alwayssayyes. o We don’tuse theiremailsforanyotherpromotional purposes.We are strict inonlycontactingthat listif itis a directemail fromus aboutan exclusivebloggeropportunity.  We thengrew our listof contacts bythrowing special “BloggerPreviews”for exhibits,andwe pulledoutall the stops!Forlargerexhibits,theygetafull dinner and goodie bags,inadditiontoa firstlookat the new gallery.Forall exhibitswe hosta tweet-upwithfungiveaways.  Thiswas our initial wayto invite thisaudience in,toshow themthatwe value theirsupport,andto make themfeel like apartof the museumfamily.  Eventslike thisestablishgoodwill. Yougive a little.But you geta lot.  Movingfrom connecting to collaboratingisn’t easy,but beingpreparedhelps! o An earlywaywe collaboratedwitha unique communitywasthroughour “Social MediaLifeguards”contest. o Thisis where local influencerswere giventicketstoa popularadults-only museumeventinexchange forsharingaboutitontheirsocial channels. o Eventhoughthiscollaborationwasusingtheirpersonal accounts,we still alwayshave to be careful withhow the museumisrepresented, especiallywhenbeing“family-friendly”issoimportant. o So forthe Lifeguards we didhave specificguidelinesforcontent,which has workedoutreallywell eachyear.  Likewise,whenitcame to CommunityBloggers,we foundthatbeginningwith more structure was keyto success.  For the BlogAmbassadors,we meetwitheachbloggerpriortotheirtimeframe, where we layoutexpectations,talkabouttopicideas,andconfirmscheduling. o Afterward,Imaintainan openline of communication;theyknowthat theycan come to me withideas,questions, orconcerns atany time.  For now,our BlogAmbassadorshave anoverarchingtheme fortheirposts,within whichtheyhave free creative rein. o Each of theirpostsillustratesawaythattheirfamilywasinspiredbythe museumtoextendtheirexperience athome. o For instance,an exhibitmayinspireacraft,a recipe,anothertrip elsewhere,orsharingamemory. o Recentlyabloggersharedaboutherfamily’slove of ouriconicChihuly glasssculpture andwhatit’smeantto themthroughthe yearsas they’ve discoveredotherChihulysintheirtravels.  I neverheavilyedit blogs,asthisdefeatsthe purposeof beingauthenticand transparent.Ionlydo lighteditingif there are inaccuraciesinexhibitnamesor information, oranyglaringgrammatical errors. Andpeople tendtoappreciate those kindsof edits.
  5. 5.  A big part of collaboratingis, let’sface it, compensation.Thisis alwaysa big question whenitcomesto communityblogging.  Afterdiscussingthe topicwithsome of ourmore professional bloggers,we’ve decidedtonotfinanciallycompensate ourAmbassadors.  We’ve foundthattheyconsiderbloggingforusaninherentvalue, because it raisestheirown social mediaprofileandaddstotheirexperience. o We foundthatthe applicationprocess motivated those whobecome Blog Ambassadors todo theirbestandvalue the opportunity. o Theyreceive abranded,personalizedbadge fortheirownblog,andare alsofree to share the contenton theirownchannels afterit’sappeared on the museum’s.  We doshow our appreciationinotherways,including o an annual membership o “welcome”and“thankyou” giftpackages o free ticketstospecial eventsthatmayoccur while they’reAmbassadors, o and otherunique opportunities. o Also,everyonealwayslikesagoodbutton. Youshould seriouslyconsider investinginabutton-maker,if youhaven’talready!  More recently,we’vebegunusinga Memorandumof Understandingwithour bloggerssothat we can furtherclarifythe expectationsonbothsides. o It mostlylaysoutthe logisticsandwhat we discussinour initial meeting. o In thisMOU we alsoinclude asectionon legal concernswithhowwe can use theircontent,and bestpractice in properlyattributingideasor information fromoutsidesourcesorblogs. o Believe itornot,“lifting”ideas fromotherblogsdidbecomeanissue with one of ourformerAmbassadors,whichisactuallywhatledusto adoptan MOU. Andwe’re now verygladwe have one.  While we feel like we’re ina goodroutine withourAmbassadorprogram,there’s still alot of room to grow, o bothwithlooseningthe structure of the suggestedcontent, o and especiallywhenitcomes to increasingdiversityin perspectives and audience representation.  In the future,thiswill call forwiderrecruitmentfromoutsideof ourtypical bloggercommunity. o We’dlove tosee more participationfromneighborhoodmembers, grandparents, familieswho adopt, familieswhohave experience with special needs,andothercultural perspectives.  No matterwho participates,the mostimportantthingisthat our blogempowers membersof ourcommunity o to share theirunique pointof view o and have a renewedsenseof ownershipover theirmuseumexperience.  Andthat bringsme to the end.  I’dbe happyto chat withanyone more aboutthis,sofeel free toreachout.  Thank youso much.

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