Interview with Museum of Contemporary Art Australia about Engaging Social Media Influencers

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The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney, has been working with local influencers on Instagram to successfully engage with millennials in their area.  Their exclusive event brought in creative Instagram photographers to capture the museum in a completely new way. This instantly exposed their gallery to an audience that may have previously considered the space as inaccessible.  Read below to find out why the event was effective, and their tips for creating a similar event in your museum.

Contemporary Art Australia gallery

Claire Hastwell, Digital Marketing Coordinator for The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, talked with us about how the MCA went about creating the event, and why it worked for engaging a new audience.

MH: You produced the first-ever private tour for social media influencers for the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s Chuck Close exhibit. What inspired you to do it?

CH: We wanted to encourage influencers to post authentic and compelling photos inside the exhibition to inspire others to visit. We also wanted to shake off the stigma attached to contemporary art and museums. The Museum is a place for creative expression, which we could encourage through social sharing. By creating a catchy hashtag (#ClosetoChuck) and championing our Instameet guests with it, we were able to get the ball rolling on social sharing and online WOM.

Contemporary Art comparison #closetochuck

MH: How did you find the people you chose to invite? Why did you choose the people you chose?

CH: In the lead up to the exhibition, we skimmed Instagram for influencers with large online followings who had strong ties to art, design, photography as well as other niche interest areas. For Light Show we reached out to lighting architects, lifestyle bloggers and influencers with talents for multicolour desserts. We also used the Museum of Contemporary Art geotag and MCA brand hashtags like #MCAnow to find who our natural brand ambassadors are.

Contemporary Art social media girls

MH: Did you have any challenges in putting this together?

CH: It was our first event of this kind, so we just weren’t sure how many people would come to the party! Managing the invitation and RSVP process was a bit tricky too. We used a mix of email and Instagram direct message which can be a bit convoluted.

Contemporary Art Instagram

MH: How much did something like this cost?

CH: Just the cost of some shareable food (Liquid nitrogen gelato), a barman and a few of our clever gallery hosts.

MH: If others want to create social media influencer tours, what suggestions do you have for a museum like yours (or slightly smaller) who wants to do this for the first time?

CH: Identify who your brand ambassadors are early on and start talking to them. Comment on their photos and highlight their contributions on your own platforms. Then go about courting them. Don’t just pursue whoever has the most followers. Make a judgement on which influencers are already your loyal fans and who align with your museum values. Be up front when inviting them to your event by leading with the hashtag. This will get them thinking about it early on, and they will know to come prepared with their smartphone fully charged! At the event, welcome them with an informal introduction. Gently remind your guests of the hashtag and encourage them to use it. Talk to them like people and get to know them! We invited MCA staff from different areas of the business to attend the event. It’s more meaningful this way, and people always love meeting the gears that fuel the exhibitions.

Contemporary Art red room

Special thanks to Ethan Angelica who interviewed Claire Hastwell for Museum Hack. Want to see more posts like this? Subscribe to our mailing list. Do you work for a museum? Do you have a program that is successfully engaging new, young audiences? We’d love to hear about it! Send us an email. Click this link If you’d like to read more about our workshops, presentations, and museum consulting work.

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