MERL on Twitter #2: #MuseumWeek & beyond

The dust has settled and I’ve just about managed to catch up on the work that was sidelined as I spent #museumweek glued to Twitter! It seems to have been a hugely successful initiative according to @TwitterUk themselves in their summary, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to try out some new ideas.  Coverage was clearly dominated by the highlights from @HRP_palaces and @V_and_A and there was definitely the danger that the smaller museums could get lost amongst the ‘big guns’ with their millions of followers. But I think there were also advantages for the smaller museums such as ourselves in tagging our posts with top-trending hashtags and appearing in timelines alongside Henry VIII and dinosaurs. When I met up with @ACallaZoo to talk about how @ColeZoology could join in, she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do enough, with so few staff and so little time, to participate effectively. In the end, it was this amazing #museummastermind picture from @ColeZoology which appeared in a Storify summary, thus attracting attention beyond the end of the week.

Cole teeth

My colleagues at the Cole Museum and the Herbarium  both reported increased followers as a result of the week, with some really useful contacts amongst them. ‘Tweepsmap‘ congratulated @MERLReading on gaining 211 new followers over the week as opposed to a more usual 30ish. There were definitely lessons to  learn from the week of frantic tweeting. We all agreed that the posts with pictures were the most successful and that actively encouraging followers to engage by asking questions really does work! Our #dayinthelife posts were very popular, proving that people appreciate that opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Selecting objects

Selecting objects from the store for a new handling collection #dayinthelife

I was also amazed at the number of people who took up the challenge to identify our mystery object posts on #museummastermind day.

Mystery object3

What are these? #museummastermind

So is there a lasting advantage to having invested in this opportunity? It was a lot of work and to be honest, after the first couple of days when I got little other work done, our involvement in the later hashtags dwindled. For my colleagues who don’t have dedicated Marketing Officers on site, it will be even harder to maintain the momentum. (I’m considering setting up a new account to cover all the Museums and Collections at Reading in one place to help increase exposure for the smaller collections…) For MERL, it’s meant that I will be thinking much more about encouraging interaction, rather than just posting links to events and blog posts. We’ve already introduced the #TuesdayTool to highlight a part of our collection that doesn’t get much exposure whilst engaging our followers, (if you’ve missed them so far, we’re storing them on our Pinterest and Facebook pages too) I think I might continue #WheresJethro too, bringing our popular family trail online!

Jethro MAE


If you have any ideas on what you would like to see MERL and the other University collections tweeting about, please comment below!