How to Broaden Your Museum’s Online Presence

Museums are embracing the digital age and developing digital strategy integrations to meet audience members where they already are. From Facebook to online galleries, to Medium posts and everything in between, museums are putting their content online and in front of audiences so they can engage on a deeper level.

As users are engaging with these digital spaces more often, it may seem excessive to plan out the details, or for museum staff to ask themselves what the purpose of each app is and why they should be on one particular app over another (or hey, why not both?) Setting up a Facebook page is so simple, it might not feel like it should be part of a larger plan.

However, everything the museum does should revolve around the institution’s mission, so each activity should have a clear justification. Creating a detailed plan will provide that justification, and give your team an accurate idea of the amount of work needed to produce high quality digital content. Further, it helps you to know what content will help you achieve your goals in an organized and efficient way, because you don’t have hours to spend doing unnecessary work.

To help with this, some digital project planning templates are available online. The South West Museum Development Programme (SWMDP) lists some of these in their digital document, A Guide To Writing a Digital Strategy.

But what if you want to combine a new digital strategy integration with a strategy that already exists?

In order to fully meet your institution’s goals, it’s important to continuously adapt your digital strategy as new circumstances in the planning process arise. The SWMDP provides some suggestions for alternative strategic plans, “Rather than thinking about digital as a standalone activity, you might want to consider embedding your approaches to digital activity into your current strategies, or reframing objectives within your Forward Planning document with a digital focus.” Here, rather than creating a single digital strategy, the digital initiatives are woven into to the overall strategic plan for the institution.

Another option is to consider strategic goals and actions already in place, and develop digital objectives that may help to meet those goals. The SWMDP gives this example:

Goals and Strategy Planning with SWMDP

Forward Plan Goals

  • To make our permanent collections available to a wide audience through free admission
  • To increase retail sales and improve customer service
  • To increase use of on site evaluation to better understand our audiences
  • To respond to tourism priorities (regional or national)

Digital Strategy Goals

  • To offer online access to parts of our permanent collection through Collections Online, social media and other online interpretations such as blogging
  • To improve the customer experience of buying tickets and other merchandise online
  • To collect customer data online wherever possible and to use online evaluation tools (i.e. Survey Monkey, Audience Finder) to better understand our audiences
  • To use third party online tourist platforms to market the museum (i.e. Visit England)

Here, adding elements of the digital strategy into the overall strategy helps to accomplish the institution’s larger goals.

Integrating your digital strategy with an already existing strategy can feel like snakes and ladders, but in the end, everyone can win.


Depending on the institution, implementing your digital strategy integration into a broader institutional strategy may be helpful, but it’s important to remain committed to the digital processes. If the digital strategy feels like an afterthought to the institutional strategy, it’s less likely to be implemented successfully.

Getting your digital strategy integration right is paramount, so make sure to involve all of your key players across the institution and bring it into the heart of your overall strategy, and you’ll be well on your way a successful digital implementation.