Museums and Millennials – The Art of Engagement

Ron Aspe

Ron Aspe

December 12, 2017

In his Adweek article, Millennials are Discovering Art by Ditching Museums for Instagram and Pinterest, Robert Klara asserts that “social media has nudged museums aside as the primary venue by which American consumers discover works of art.” Don’t let your museum be nudged aside!

Mr. Klara references a survey done by online auction site Invaluable, which shows that “nearly 23 percent of Americans find artwork that appeals to them on social media channels such as Instagram or Pinterest. By contrast, 20 percent discover artwork by going to museums.”

Downstream benefits

Invaluable’s Vice President of Marketing, O’Neal Rowe is quoted as saying that “[there is] a lot of opportunity …to reach and engage young collectors as we prepare for the next generation of digital-first art buyers.” Obviously, Invaluable’s focus is on selling art, but the statistics and trends in the survey spotlight a marketing opportunity for museums, who must engage with this emerging audience for art and artifacts. After all, Millennials are the parents of the future, who will (ideally) take their children to museums and galleries, and equally important, they are also the funders, sponsors and patrons of tomorrow.

Seeing and believing

Social media campaigns that focus on visual channels like Instagram and Pinterest are critical for museums. Instagram and Pinterest can be used to engage and influence virtual and in-house visitors alike, with pleasing and compelling images of art and objects housed in the institution—and should include links to the museum’s website, to further pique curiosity with exhibit details, or allow virtual visitors to experience curated online collections.

Building a community

A Web based collection management system will facilitate the crowd-sourced marketing that occurs when museum goers can share links to your collection details via their social media channels of choice, and you’ll be continuing to create your cultural community via Instagram and Pinterest, spotlighting your most treasured, beautiful and inspiring objects and art.

What do the numbers say?

Online auction sites get as much as 40 percent of their traffic via mobile devices, and Invaluable’s Rowe states that’s why “his site’s marketing efforts toward young art fans will continue to center on platforms including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.” In his opinion, “…it’s now more important than ever for cultural institutions like museums …to develop a strong online presence to reach this audience.”

According to Invaluable’s study, close to 40 percent of Americans still visit museums once per year, and 14 percent go once per month. That’s good news, and if you want those visits to continue, or even to increase, recognize that forward-thinking museums must develop strategies (including leveraging collection management software) which include meeting the all-important Millennial audience where they are—and that means going social, mobile, and visual.

Ron Aspe

Ron Aspe

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