As Instagram is the social channel that guests are most likely to interact with a museum before, after, and during their visit, it pays to keep on top of the trends. Actively maintaining an Instagram account is a first step in the right direction for museums who are looking to connect with their modern visitors.
Most museums have mastered the classic Instagram photo post, but Instagram Stories and Reels are a great way for museums to connect with their social followers in a more authentic way. Plus, Reels are Instagram's top performing feature as more people move to short-form video content.
Here are six tips for museums to promote their exhibits, connect with their audience, and increase social engagement using IG Stories and Reels.
1 | Give behind the scenes access to new exhibits or collections
As your museum is getting its newest exhibit installed and ready to unveil, take photos and videos of the behind the scenes action to get your followers excited about the exhibit. Film your crew unloading the trucks, cleaning or preparing artifacts, and hanging up installments to show off how much work goes into the presentation of a new exhibit. People like the idea of exclusive access, and going behind the scenes will help you connect with your eager-to-learn audience.
2| Promote everything your museum has to offer
At your museum, you might have alternative programming and revenue streams outside of exhibits and admission fees. Do you rent your space for events, or offer children’s camps and workshops? These offerings are interactive, visually exciting, and create great content to be promoted on your Instagram account.
When there is an event happening at your venue, share it with your audience. If it’s not your event to broadcast, sharing snaps and videos of the setup is a good way to remind people that they can rent the space. Sometimes until someone sees your museum set up for a wedding or conference, they could never have visualized it.
3| Embed CTAs that link to your website
A great feature of Instagram is that it allows you to link to web pages with CTAs - with certain parameters. If you have over 10K followers you can use the 'swipe up' CTA for your Stories, and if not, you can create your own CTA by using the new 'link' option to add your own URL as the CTA. When it comes to Reels, you can put the CTA in your caption or lead them to 'link in bio'.
Whether you’re adding links to invite your audience to enter a contest, learn more, or buy tickets to an exhibit, you can encourage visitors to take action right from Instagram while you have their attention. This is a great opportunity to create measurable engagements that can be attributed back to your social media efforts.
4| Repost UGC Stories from your visitors
If your visitors tag you in their Instagram Reels and Stories, you have the ability to repost them to share with your followers. CrowdRiff makes it easy to get the rights to videos and images from your audience so you can authentically show off what people are loving at your museum. It truly is the most powerful type of word of mouth marketing!
5| Use the poll and question features to increase audience engagement
By including polls in your IG stories, you encourage audience participation and learn more about what your followers are most interested in. This will ultimately help inform not only your social media content, but potentially museum content strategy as well. The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany does a great job of engaging their followers through polls. Using the voting feature, the museum asks their audience for input when they are about to restore a car. One time, 15,000 people voted on a poll asking which tires the museum should use for a car restoration, which proves that the technique was successful in engaging their audience members. After the results were in, the museum continued to post about the progress of the car, which held the voters’ interest as they felt more invested in the restoration after contributing to its early stages.
Another great example is The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, who used Instagram Stories and polls to increase engagement on its Stories during their Jolly Days exhibit.
The museum's social media team has created a tradition that gives the Jolly Days characters some extra attention each year with a “takeover” campaign. Their larger-than-life stand-up comic elf Zazzelz was further animated with these engaging Instagram story features.
6 | Use Highlights to keep your most important content at the top of your feed
Instead of having your Story content disappear after 24 hours, save select Stories to the top of your profile in a ‘highlight’.
Many museums choose to group saved highlight Stories by theme, topic, or even exhibit. Pick the Stories that were viewed and interacted with the most, since you know it’s great content that will continue to perform well.
The Canadian Museum of Nature created eye-catching covers for their highlight reel to enhance the appearance of their profile
Use Instagram Stories to Connect with your Visitors
Instagram stories are an opportunity to connect with your followers in a more interactive, in-the-moment fashion than regular posts, and attract more visitors.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on how you can get creative with visuals in your marketing campaigns, read our Guide to UGC for Travel and Tourism Brands, an eBook created in partnership with Skift. It’s full of actionable ideas, tips on getting rights to photos, and examples from global museum, airline, resort, and destination brands.