From 2011 through 2014, I handled SFMOMA’s social media — and I had some fun with it.
My let’s-go-kinda-crazy approach defined SFMOMA’s award-winning digital engagement program, and led to an increase in the museum’s social media audiences by 800% – to more than two million people – under my tenure. Good times were had by all (yes, even by the SFMOMA curators).
While there’s no secret recipe for the perfect tweet or the most glorious Instagram pic, I’ve found that creating engaging social content is all about recognizing opportunities to connect the institution to what people care about – in fun, thoughtful, and (most importantly) smart ways. In short, it’s about creating a little magic – lighting the mischievous spark that will get a flame going. What follows are some of my favorite bits and pieces from my days wrangling SFMOMA’s social.
SFMOMA ON THE GO // #SFMOMAgo
When SFMOMA shut its doors for a massive expansion project in June 2013, I was tasked with turning the impending closure into an opportunity for community engagement. We needed to both communicate that the museum was not going to be open for the next three years – which we knew would result in a lot of emotion from visitors – while simultaneously getting people to feel excited about our interim On the Go programming, and for the future museum’s reopening – which was three years away.
We launched the SFMOMA On the Go campaign approximately three months before the museum closed. Our approach worked because we shared the news honestly, showing photos of staff reacting to the “crazy fact” that SFMOMA’s building would be closed to the public for quite a long time. Through a super low-budget video, we encouraged followers to share their thoughts and feelings about the news using the #SFMOMAgo hashtag, and then used this content to create another video explaining how SFMOMA’s expansion project would unfurl.
JUMPING AROUND THE BAY AREA: CELEBRATING A YEAR AFTER EXPANSION CLOSURE
On June 2, 2013, SFMOMA closed its doors to the public for a massive expansion project that took three years to complete. While the building was closed, the museum toured the art and ideas of SFMOMA to other museums and locations around the Bay Area as SFMOMA On the Go. To celebrate the first full year of SFMOMA On the Go, I staged a photo-shoot with a group of co-workers. My intention was to create something fun that also pointed to the fact that yes, we’re still jumping around the Bay Area – but we are excited to be getting closer to reopening in 2016.
[TERRIFYING] TWITTER TAKEOVERS // #SFMOMAslow
In a world of quick status updates and Instagram posts, is it possible to put the brakes on the accelerating, careening car that is social media and get people to really think? This is the question I hoped to answer with SFMOMA’s first-ever Twitter takeovers (and, to my knowledge, the first social media takeover staged by any major art institution), during which four artists took over the @SFMOMA account for 30 minutes each, and tweeted whatever the heck they wanted, as long as it was inspired by looking at an artwork on view in the museum. File this project under RISKY BUSINESS.
To see how everything unfolded, check out the transcripts on SFMOMA’s Open Space:
A PRECISE MOMENT: 11/11/11 AT 11:11AM
Sometimes it’s the little things that get people excited, like celebrating a strangely momentous date when all the numbers in the date and time are 1s. I snapped this simple photo of a few co-workers embodying the date, then posted it at the exact moment of cosmic connectedness. People loved it. We even got picked up by SFist!
BUT WAIT… WHAT IS ART?
What is art? After this question appeared in the SFMOMA Tumblr inbox, I decided to crowd-source an answer. Here’s a word cloud created from SFMOMA’s followers’ responses to the question, how would *you* define art? Unsurprisingly, people jumped at the chance to pipe up with their ideas, debating and celebrating the many ways that our creative pursuits may be defined.
THE FINE ART OF HALLOWEEN
Everyone knows that Halloween was made for social media… or vice versa. For my first Halloween at SFMOMA, I staged a full-blown costume contest, where visitors were encouraged to come to the museum in a costume inspired by their favorite work of art (see the photo gallery below for a taste of the entries; see the Facebook album for the full effect).
I dressed up as Marina Abramović in The Artist is Present– a costume idea which, when photographed properly, had quite an effect!
ANIMALS RULE THE INTERNET
Everyone knows that cats and dogs rule the Internet. In these posts, I worked to connect cuteness with fine art in a few adorably surprising ways.
When we installed Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, I noticed something right away: there was going to be a lot more wildlife interacting with the art than on a normal day inside the walls of the museum. As I followed the #diSuveroSF Instagram tag, I noticed that one user was posting adorable photos of dogs hanging out with the sculptures almost every day. So, I reached out and set a date to meet these art-loving pooches. What followed was an excellent meeting, where I got to hear how the artworks had affected Aimee Porter, the wrangler of the Doodle Mafia. I wrote all about this experience on SFMOMA’s Open Space – read on!
TICK TOCK, IT’S TIME FOR THE CLOCK
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, AND YOU, AND YOU…
I usually hate “happy birthday to ___X artist__” social posts. So at SFMOMA, I tried to keep the birthday posts wild and interesting, going above and beyond the generic shout-out. For Rothko’s big day, we made custom party hats that really sealed the deal on our lasting adoration of Rothko’s famous No. 14.