Museums: Embrace Mobile Marketing!


Museums are a place for wonderment, a place of solace and subtle reflect, but also a place for discourse and debate. The very premise of a Museum hasn’t changed since the inception; the cataloguing, cultivating and curating of art from a top-down approach. Museums still exist in the way where the Museums curators with years of scholastically wisdom know better about what the audience want to see, but are things changing?

If so, how can museums prepare themselves to become Museum 2.0 compliant?

The Deline of Museums

The business of museums has been encountering a downward trend in physical attendance in recent years. In the past museums were connected with highly educated members of the public, which makes the downward trend paradoxical in an era of increased access to education for the masses. Today museums reluctantly or not, compete for time of prospective patrons in the realm of the leisure industry. But do they want to be in the leisure business, and are young educated people on the museum radar? Are museums ready for what all that engagement with young adults means, including democratisation of art selection and contributing to innovation ideas for enhancing museums purpose and space?

8 Trends for a Renaissance

In the research of the vast literature conducted about Museums, 8 major trends emerged as being important to the future success of Museum. These include the need for museums to be more experiential and less rigid, moving away from traditional curation strategies and embracing a market driven visitor led approach, creating an audience development plan that would encompass all potential stakeholders and creating avenues for increased dialogue including advisory boards and online blogs. Online websites and their power to attract interest of potential visitors to the physical museum is also a major trend.

The rising popularity to embrace the general public’s opinions and money via crowdsourcing and crowdfunding could also be seen as major factors for marketing success in a museum environment. The use of language in museum communication becomes specifically important as screen sizes of devices get small and attention spans get shorter. No time for long historical stories, but key takeaways that should still captivate the audience.  The architecture of the building in which the curated art is houses is also important for the ambience it sets and for the possibilities the art and the architecture plays in providing an entertaining yet educational experience. All these diverse and dynamic factors all are interconnected in the museum environment and all play a role in the potential success of a museum via its communications and marketing.

A Case Museum in Austria

When we looked at a typical case museum in Vienna, it was seen that it had embraced several of the trends wholeheartedly and experimented with the others. The Museum, which is located in the heart of Vienna, has an advantage of lending its architecture as a backdrop of millions of touristic photos. The museum offers free Wi-Fi for a visitor which leads the device user to the mobile optimised website and one click away from their Facebook site. This illustrates a successful embrace of mobile marketing and a simplistic natural user journey.

Furthermore, the mobile website also offers mobile ticket purchasing so as to skip the long queues at the reception. The museum also engages in educational programs for young people at the museum. But the museum has as yet not moved on to conducting any education via apps. In regards to embracing the crowd, young adults’ opinions are not thoroughly sought after but rather used in social media as a way to enhance engagement. Serious forms of crowdsourcing or crowdfunding of art are not seen as appropriate and still the old tale of “the scholar knows best” comes out strongly. One digitalised experiment the museum has tried was actually was met with a backlash, a traditionally postal mailed invitation was sent as a digital-only invite to “Friends of the museum”. This illustrated in some regards, the novelty a museum can give is just as impacting as new technology.

The Young and The Social

Young adults views on Museums and with practical respect to Mobile Marketing are also considered. A majority of young adults check out a museums website on their mobile device before visiting, many had sought free Wi-Fi once inside the museum, and a vast majority check their mobile device for updates as well as taking pictures and social sharing them to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Despite incremental deployments of mobile initiatives in the museum environment, it is believed that still Young Adults were not important to museums. It is seen that these 20 something’s would return to the museums as they grew old. Even if this were, in fact, the case, business model of museums would anyways later have to change, whether museums like it or not the habits and demands of museum visitors have forever changed. To attract visitors and to stay relevant museums will have to change too.

To find out more about mobile marketing and museums, tweet me @amobilenative

Header image credits royalty free

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