A Recap of AAM 2017, from an #AAMSMJ

At this year’s annual conference, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) awarded fellowships to social media journalists to follow and report from the floor in St. Louis.

Our own Julia Kennedy from our Marketing + Audience Development teams worked with 10 other journalists to help spark and boost the conversation online. Here are some of Julia’s thoughts on being an AAM Social Media Journalist.

Julia with some of the Museum Hack team heading to the AAM Conference.

“While going to conferences and live-tweeting is something I would have been doing despite the AAMSMJ badge, I was completely honored to be among such a fantastic group of avid Twitter users, and museum professionals. You can see all of us profiled on AAM’s Alliance Labs, here.

I introduced myself at the start of the conference, and invited anyone following along to follow on Twitter with the #AAMSMJ hashtag in general, and me personally for anyone interested in similar aspects of the theme.”

Is this a trend other conferences could use? Absolutely. Here’s why:

Pushed the Theme

If you’re in the museum twitter-verse you may recognize each of the social media journalists for their ongoing contributions to conversations around issues that involved this year’s theme – Gateways for Understanding: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in Museums.

Picking users that were already embedded into the theme helped to push the conference’s dialogue goals further. Gathering a variety of voices helped dive into the vastness of what diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion can be.

Point(s) of Contact

For those following at home, following the specific hashtag served as a point of contact for the massive annual meeting. It’s easy for things to get lost online, particularly in a rapidly updating hashtag for the general conference, #AAM2017. To get a question, comment, or concern in, it was easy to tweet with the hashtag and get a response. Users could also follow the theme, and find a more personal point of view with the dedicated #AAMSMJ tag.

It was interesting to be that point of contact in real life. When the controversial #AAM2017SlaveAuction was unveiled in the Expo Hall, the social media journalists were there to cover the controversy and answer questions for attendees. Which leads me to…

Gave Authority Back to the Members

Particularly during the controversy, but also in general: having a group of your own attendees or members gives the authority and ownership back to them. No conference or organization is perfect, but by trusting its members to cover the conference honestly, and as themselves, helps promote transparency and real dialogue.

As a big fan of AAM’s Museums Advocacy Day, I hope to see the program launched there as well.

All and all, the social media journalist program is useful for any large scale conference looking for engagement and dialogue during and after their meeting.

What’s the downside?

Besides most of Julia’s photos at the conference looking like this:

It was genuinely pretty hectic to try to cover as much of the conference, uphold the theme, and find time to help out my team. Would I change it? Not at all.

With so many people covering it was okay not to have a perfectly planned out schedule, and to be honest – it never happens anyways at conferences. It still made me feel connected and driving the conversation, something I believe Twitter does all the time for the museum field. For me, the conference this year was a much more immersive experience into the field.

I still enjoyed some conference extracurriculars, like racing these pedal tractors at the St Louis Science Center.

Did you follow the conference online on Twitter? Do you think it would be transferrable to other events or conferences? Let Julia know what you think: [email protected]


Want Info & Pricing For Our Museum Consulting?

Enter your information below to connect directly with our Audience Development team