Digital Content Strategies have become a popular topic among institutions, with many museums developing and even posting these strategies, aiming to stay accountable to their audiences. Open publishing allows museums to share details with their public, serving them and the museum mission simultaneously, while establishing trusted and sustainable audience relationships.

How to Start a Museum Digital Content Strategy?

A digital content strategy for museums starts in a different place than for most businesses. A successful content strategy for a museum involves the entire institution and their staff rather than a single employee or department.

A digital content strategy can be broken down into four main pillars. These pillars can exist across different platforms, such as the website, online portals or on various social media platforms:

  1. Institution Information: Homepage, About Us, House of Operations, Ticket Sales, etc.
  2. Offline Content: Exhibition Information for upcoming/past exhibitions, Galleries, etc.
  3. Online Content: Online Exhibitions and Collections, Published Research, Archives, etc.
  4. Blogs and Social

Each pillar of content is meant to help achieve different organizational goals. When a museum publishes their works either on their museum website, or through other social media and online channels, they’re able to expand the ability to engage with their public. From international museum members to local community researchers, digital strategies and engagement works to interact with anyone outside of the museum’s physical space. However, digital engagement is also much more than that. Digital strategies help to future-proof the institution, and create a workflow for the evolution of content, and the way content is delivered to audiences.

For example, your social content strategy might target improving customer satisfaction and loyalty by giving your institution a voice and a point of contact that can answer questions for a wider audience. Or it can serve as an engine for driving awareness for your institution through content that has the potential to reach a wider audience. Social is also a great tool to amplify your other efforts from your website for added engagement. These types of posts provide added exposure that increases over time.

Your offline content might be a great PR tool to leverage when reaching out to local media to promote new and exciting exhibitions that are coming to your museum. For example, before the ever popular Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibition went to Toronto, Canada. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) smartly garnished a lot of media attention from publications such as BlogTO, and many more. This attention was further amplified through the use of social media such as their announcement post, which received over 5,000 likes on Instagram, creating a more holistic digital strategy across multiple channels.

However, digital engagement is also much more than that. Digital strategies help to future-proof the institution, and create a workflow for the evolution of content, and the way content is delivered to audiences.

For example, if a museum rents handheld audio guides for self-guided tours, including a plan for that audio content in the museum’s digital content strategy can help to ensure the museum’s audio files are protected over time. Eventually, the hardware may become obsolete, and the museum may look to transfer the audio content to a platform that’s easier to share with their audiences. In this way, the museum is able to connect with their audience on a deeper level because they’re creating an opportunity to reformat their content for audiences of the future.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), another Gallery Systems client, is challenging the notion of a digital content strategy by asking what would happen if the conversation isn’t about digital content, but instead is just about content? Chad Coerver, Chief Content Officer at SFMOMA, tackled this issue in a recent article posted to the SFMOMA Read content feed. “I see these virtual conversations as just another expression of a very human need for connectedness and context,” muses Coerver, “Regardless of whether we’re standing around the office cooler or sending images out into the digital ether, we are constantly writing the story of who we are, of our place in the world.”

Learn more about how SFMOMA is working to unify their content in Coerver’s article, “On Digital Content Strategy.”

This guide provides insight into creating a strategic digital plan and looks at the digital strategies of a few Gallery Systems clients.