Rolling out Social Media at the Art Gallery of Ontario

I was involved with Social Media at the Art Gallery of Ontario through my position as New Media Developer. Our team’s actions resulted in the creation of a new full-time position to coordinate content for web and social media channels.

Social Media Survey - AGO Talks
Image: Data collected as part of the Social Media benchmarking of the AGO’s public programs. Graphic by Marty Spellerberg.

Identify Connections

I looked around our organization and saw that there were a number of people doing parts of “social media” but they were in different departments and in some cases had never met each other. I recognized this as an opportunity to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our efforts.

I initiated monthly meetings where content creators brought forward their material and brainstormed with web publishers ways to present them online. A to-do was noted for each item and this list became the agenda for the next meeting. Representatives attended from the New Media, Education, Communications, and A/V teams. In addition, web-specific meetings were held for all major projects.

Institute Processes

Our team brainstormed ways to add social media to existing forms and administrative procedures. This was especially important with regard to copyright clearance and the production of audio/video material. We focused our attention on material which could be repurposed for our various channels, which were crossed-linked. We initiated and implemented changes to our website and email templates that highlighted our social media channels. We added Social Media questions to our existing survey of program participants, which gave our information architecture a demographic baseline (see graphic, above).

Recognizing that most material posted by the Gallery crossed my desk on its way online, I started the AGO’s Twitter feed and posted links to material as it went live. In addition, I shared the account information with the rest of the team, who used it according to their perspective — publicists in service of building buzz, educators in service of engagement. Other tools in our kit included Youtube, Facebook, Flickr and the AGO’s own blog. A member of our team brought forward Tumblr, which we adopted for our “Art of the Day” feature. This was a feature we had implemented on our own site, but by moving it to Tumblr we gained that platform’s passionate audience as well as automatic integration with Twitter. As our efforts progressed we became concerned with new material created especially for these channels and crafted to their specific strengths.

Present to leadership

After a period of work using these processes, our efforts were noticed outside and within the organization. Members of our team were invited to present at conferences and were quoted in the media. I was invited to present this work to the Gallery’s leadership team and corporate advisory board, which included the director of Facebook Canada. Discussion at these presentations revolved around appropriate metrics, with emphasis both on what could be expressed through existing language and what new measures could be defined. It was identified that our efforts needed to be incorporated into a broader institutional strategy.

This resulted in the creation of a new full-time position to coordinate content for web and social media channels. I provided documentation of my Social Media processes and procedures, which were integrated into the portfolio of the new position.

I am pleased that our grass-roots efforts benefited the organization and led to positive change. I am currently testing the applicability of these techniques to other projects in the visual arts.

Posted February 2011

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