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Micro-vlogging: Keeking Up with Social Media Trends

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

Remember when you though Twitter was just a silly fad? (Heck, maybe you still do.) Many people were skeptical about Twitter when it launched in 2006, but that microblog platform took off in 2009 and has turned out to be a popular way for visitors to share their impressions of museums (good and bad), and for museums to take notice and respond. The Warhol Museum was cited by Pew Internet & American Life Project, which noted the museum’s use of Twitter exemplifies how technology is transforming arts organizations, in this case in a manner well suited to the Warhol’s mission to engage audiences in “interesting and subversive ways.” In only a couple of years we’ve gone from debating whether museum staff should tweet, to trading tips on how to tweet effectively. Now conferences stream Twitter feeds behind the speakers, museums stream feeds to flatscreen monitors in exhibits and lobbies, and I use the service to find and connect with some of the best & brightest thinkers in and out of the museum field.

So what’s the next hot thing in social media? Maybe it’s “micro-vlogging” (micro-video blogging.) Think YouTube meets Twitter: micro-vlog posts are a way of sharing short burst of information, the visual/audio version of 140 characters.

I learned about micro-vlogs last week at a workshop I taught in Saudi Arabia for the staff of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. As I’d hoped, I learned at least as much from  the attendees as they learned from me and from my co-presenter, CFM Council  member Garry Golden. The audience was comprised of Saudis, mostly young, doing their rotations within Aramco, as well as expats brought in from the US, Canada, Great Britain, Greece and elsewhere around the world to help the Center jump-start its planning. One of the Center staff cued us into a micro-vlog site called Keek. Apparently, for many young Saudis video is the preferred medium for information. Where we might turn to Wikipedia, they search YouTube for basic info on a topic, so micro-vlogs are a logical next social media step.

Micro-vlogging isn’t brand new—it was being touted as a trending platform way back in 2009. (I know, WAY back, eh?) I don’t think this platform has caught on in the U.S., yet, but that doesn’t mean it might not be the next hot new thing.

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Why should you care? Because most efficient and effective way for your museum to communicate is to adopt the media preferred by your users. Museums are highly visual experiences—and visitors already revel in documenting and sharing pictures via sites such as Flickr and Instagram. Video shorts may be an even better way to share highlights of some kinds of museum experience.

Keek, for example, supports video status updates of up to about 30 sec in length, shot with a webcam or with an app on a mobile device. Keek integrates with other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which encourages users to share content across various platforms. Check out some of the museum-related micro-vlog posts on their site:

Here’s a post that documents a work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney that needs video to capture one of its dimensions (change over time)

And another “moving experience” at the Bishop Museum in Hawai’i

So, do you want people saying “I’ll be keeking from your museum?”

Are these particular clips profound or insightful? No, but they provide a glimpse of what visitors found compelling, and worthy of sharing with friends. That last clip certainly is a nice shout-out to the Atlanta History Center (if I were on their staff it would make me feel warm and fuzzy!).

I’ll be looking for the first museum spokes-specimen to start micro-vlogging on their organization’s behalf (as @SUEtheTrex tweets for the Field Museum of Natural History, or @OWNEYtheDOG for @PostalMuseum)–a sure sign of mainstream museum adoption of the platform.

If your museum has already jumped into micro-vlogging, please share your experiences in the comment section, below, and let us know where to find and follow your vlog posts.

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1 Comment

  1. Great timing for this post with the roll-out (and now (kind of) roll-back-in) of Twitter's Vine app. I'm particularly interested to see how micro-vlogging effects museum word-of-mouth in regard to elevating reputation and therefore potentially increasing attendance numbers long term. Could visitors creating these short videos – perfect for sharing in today's information-dense world- provide a sweet-spot of intriguing visual information that may be a contributor to building interest in a visitor-serving organization?

    I think this heavily depends on the pick-up of micro-vlogging by museum high propensity visitors (generally a "super connected" group)… I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of audience members choose to micro-vlog and how museums highlight this word of mouth to interest other visitors. Thanks for the thoughtful, timely post.

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