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Social Media Help for the Small Museum

by Robert Connolly, C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa on

mobile goodLike most small museum directors, I wear many hats. As much as I enjoy facing the diversity of challenges that come my way, I’m not an expert in all areas of museum practices. For that expertise, I often rely on resources that present information in concise summary formats like the AASLH Technical Leaflets and the Small Museum Toolkit .

There’s one hat I wear for which I have limited training: social media. Two years ago I came across a best practices resource for social media – Heather Mansfield’s Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits. Mansfield provides an integrated approach to networking tools such as websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Her book has since become an indispensable guide for our museum’s social media practices.

Last week I picked up Mansfield’s recently published companion volume, Mobile For Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits. This volume updates her earlier book’s content and adds new sections on  how both small and large nonprofits can apply social media and fundraising concepts to their operations.

Whether a small museum focuses on fundraising or community involvement, Mobile For Good’s strategic approach is an invaluable resource to create a holistic social media policy. She divides Mobile for Good into four parts. Each section forms a sequential building block to develop and implement social media and online fundraising policies.

Part 1 lists step-by-step actions for nonprofits to take in a holistic approach toward social media and fundraising. Each chapter includes a list of relevant best practices. Mansfield clearly and concisely presents current and anticipated trends in social media, especially the need for smart phone adaptability. Part 1 also covers the essential role of website and e-newsletter communications, often considered outdated tools in a 140-character Twitter world.

Building on the strategic framework presented in Part 1, Part 2 reviews the types of useful content in social media such as webinars, blogs, videos and more.

Part 3 looks at the social networks that distribute the content created in Part 2. With individual chapters on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others, you can decide which networks suit your needs.

Part 4 covers topics such as digital copyright, social media analytics, responding to trolls, and more.

Mobile for Good is valuable for the small museum professional in several ways. If you’ve never reviewed how your institution uses social media, this book provides a comprehensive starting point. If you have a policy in place, Mobile for Good provides excellent suggestions for updating your practices, particularly as they relate to emerging smart phone and tablet technologies.  At under 300 pages Mobile for Good is packed with information in a jargon-free style that is readily understood and relevant to both the novice and more experienced social media managers.

 Robert Connolly is the Director of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Earth Sciences at the University of Memphis.  Robert can be contacted at rcnnolly@memphis.edu

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