…and your point is?

By Pete Gray, Deputy Community & Cultural Manager, Wanganui District Council

19 November 2008

Museum blogging – why bother? It’s very hard – impossible, actually – to know how many people read anything we put online. The one thing we can be fairly certain of is that the number of readers hugely outweighs the number of commenters. We can see that from our own online behaviour, after all – how often does any of us leave a comment on a site?

The nature of the online world, the way in which new possibilities become available before we have begun to understand / get a feel for / make best use of what’s already there, means that whatever we do is always going to be experimental.

As far as blogging is concerned, I think part of the key to readership is posting at a reasonable frequency, so that there is a reason for readers to come back regularly. On the whole people who may comment will read for a good while before they do so – the place has to become familiar, as it were, before they are comfortable to do so.

Museums, even the largest, rarely have the resources to be at the bleeding edge – the trick is not to neglect the bleeding obvious. We know that people (or at least a significant fraction of people) are interested to find out more about what it is that working in a museum actually involves. A blog seems to me to be a good way to talk about that, since it requires a more personal, less corporate, tone of voice. Of course it also requires a commitment from sufficient people in the organisation to provide the posts, and a commitment from the organisation not to worry too much about only presenting the (often tediously self-congratulatory) monolithic corporate image.

Museums are full of enthusiastic (indeed one might say obsessive) people with a passion to communicate ideas and stories – we’re paid to do that after all. Blogging is just another string to our bow.

Now can someone explain why a multi-stringed bow would be an advantage?

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3 Responses to …and your point is?

  1. Paul Rowe says:

    21 Nov 2008 03:51 UTC
    The way in which people communicate with each continually changes as new media emerges.

    Some goods reasons for adding blogging as one of your communication methods are:

    1. You’ll connect with people that may not read content you have published in other media.

    2. You can pass on knowledge about your field in a different way.

    3. It’s a two-way dialog, unlike static content on web pages or in a magazine.

    4. More people can discover your website through the broader discussions on your blog pages.

    5. The only cost is your time to write the content – you don’t need to pay a printer for page space.

    6. It encourages you to think about the sector you work in.

    Not everyone has time to write a blog, but blogging provides one more way to connect with your audience. It’s nice to have a multi-stringed bow.

  2. Pete Gray says:

    Of course, another key for effective use of blogging is to respond quickly to comments – so you need your blog set up to alert you when comments are posted. The same thing applies to using Flickr – unless it’s changed, the default setting is NOT to inform you of comments. Sorry for the delay!

  3. Pamela says:

    I’ve been blogging for Te Papa off and on for nearly a year now – first whales, and now big squid (as in colossal).

    It’s certainly shown us that we can reach out to new audiences – within NZ and internationally. And yes, it’s another string to your bow!

    It’s also really made me think about the voice and tone we use to engage with our visitors.

    The blog frees you up to show some of your own personality and hopefully that museums are run by real people for real people. You can be less serious, admit to mistakes and even show a sense of humour!

    I encourage people to give blogging a go. But also remember that it’s not the answer to everything – it’s just one more good string for your bow to engage with your community.

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