Category Archives: Social Media

Out and About

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, partly because WordPress was playing up on my laptop and partly because I’ve been out of the office and generally very busy these past few weeks.

I’ve been busy beavering away on setting up collection highlights for our properties for the launch of our Collections Online, which means our Collections will be accessible to the public.

I’ve been working on Collection Highlights like this Meissen porcelain tea pot and cover displaying a ‘Chinoiserie’ style of oriental flowers and gilding created by Johann Gregarious Höroldt, Meissen’s chief painter and director. Höroldt created a wide variety of imaginary designs in a Chinese style for the European market through the mid 18th century. Part of the large collection of Meissen owned by Mrs Greville.

As well as writing collection highlights, I’ve also been out and about keeping my eyes peeled for anything digital media related. I’ve attached a picture of my favourite idea below. It’s from Sainsbury’s and it highlights the fact they have a local facebook page. I think it’s a great idea as I think most people wouldn’t think they would! It’s big, bold and eyecatching and you instantly associate it with Facebook. 

A good idea at Sainsbury's, this sign not only tells me that they have a facebook page but also why I should join it! Something that could potentially be used anywhere, including Museums and Heritage Sites.

What I also like about it is the fact it not only tells you that Sainsbury’s have a facebook page but also why you should add Sainsbury’s on Facebook; to recieve news, deals, recipes and top tips. These are all fairly good reasons and the page currently has around 290 likes, which isn’t bad for a supermarket. I think something which inspire more emotion like a good heritage site or museum should would do a lot better!

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Filed under Collections, Social Media

the web is what you make of it

I was watching TV last night and saw the new U.K Google Chrome Advert, it was a really good advert and well worth checking out. Apart from highlight alot of googles services, it really made me think. I think in many ways it sums up so much about the ways we are increasingly using the web such as photo sharing/video sharing etc. It also had the fantastic end line of ‘the web is what you make of it’.

Way back at the begining of the year I posted a overview of the ones to watch in digital/social media. One of the main things that was predicted is that online photo sharing would become more popular. Well I think we can say that this definitely probably true. Last week Twitter dived into the photo and video sharing experience with a native picture/video sharing function. You can check out what this will look like here.

Of course just like the google advert says, the web is exactly what you make of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter, maybe because not many of my friends are on Twitter. However I can see the huge potential these new functions. My interests are in collections, so you post your top ten objects using a #tag to your twitter followers, or perhaps have an object of the month #tag. I think the potential to crowd source lots of interesting photos which is really exciting! You could do with anything hashtagging pictures of peoples own favourite objects through to pictures from events or even favourite landscapes.

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Filed under Social Media

Where did the images come from?

I’ve not posted for a while having been on holiday been dragged around potential wedding venues, not always a major chore when the venues include Fountains Abbey and Gibside. I did however manage to get away long enough to check out the new Northern Spirit Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

It was a good exhibition and has already been reviewed by the Museums Journal so I won’t recover old ground. There were a couple of features that touch upon my special interest of all things social and digital though.

Firstly, and I didn’t take a picture of this as it was against Tyne & Wear Museums photography policy, there was digital access on touch screen devices which provided more information about the objects on show.

A projected image from a photo competition on Flickr

However the major thing I was impressed at was a projector of images just outside the exhibition. The projector was showing images which had been collected via flickr as a competition. There was also a touch screen showing a map allowing people to click on locations and view the images. What was most interesting about the projected images was how long people stood around looking to see if they knew where it was.

I think it was a fantastic example of a linked up approach with use of social media and a real world presense. There was certainly a real sense of dialouge and user interaction, which really impressed me.

People (alas my brother and sister in law) trying out the touch screen interface

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Filed under Collections, Social Media

Asking the right questions?

Facebook released a new version of facebook questions on Thursday which can be used on brand pages. The new version of Facebook questions has a couple of interesting features, as opposed to asking questions of people you don’t know, the whole set up of facebook questions is aimed at asking your friends. It also seems to have developed quite a response on facebook and number of questions already.

Just like using this Edwardian telephone to ask a friend for some advice or to answer a question, facebook friends allows you to ask all your friends any question you want! © National Trust / Andrew Fetherston

When asking a question, users can not only create a poll but also ask a question with an open ended answer. For instances like ‘a place to visit on a rainy day’ where the answer is short, users can use a web page or a place for the recommendation. For more open ended questions the response builds using the comments. With the increase in respondents the bar fills up blue as shown in the picture below. Questions that people answer automatically appear in their news feed and can be shared with their friends. A really popular question can generate lots of interest on the web.

The potential to gain information from your friends about your brand is certainly useful. Especially when considering one of the questions I always get asked when promoting social media is how do we know if people visit our properties after seeing a facebook update etc. Well now you can ask and the helpful folk at mashable have created this handy guide!

Interesting to see that Mac isn't far behind the PC in this response to a facebook question yesterday, also worth noting is the just over 22,000 respondents in only 15 hours.

Of course with everything it’s all about the type of responses you get, if a question is open you may not find out anything but if it is closed to restrain the diversity of response. Although you will get really useful information you also get silly responses too if a question is open ended.

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Filed under Social Media

The Elephant in the Room

I was at a digital media conference last week, and one of things that was mentioned is that Wikipedia is probably the first source of information people use in looking for any topic.

There is also a general assumption that wikipedia unreliable, it has in recent years made moves to correctly insist on correct citations for the information on the site.

Last year the British Museum had a Wikipedian work on site for 5 weeks to improve the standard of articles relating to objects in its collection. The Brooklyn Museum embraced wikipedia with it’s seductive subversive wikipedia work and Imperial College London have been in the news in the last day or so and they too are starting to embrace Wikipedia.

The start of the visitor journey? Our National Trust website is top but Wikipedia is 2nd. Which do people click?

The visitor journey framework is often used in talking about the overall visitor experience, our websites are often the first place we assume people visit who want stimulation or planning information. However where does a visitors journey really start? With Wikipedia’s growth as not only a search result but a developing reputation for a source for a quick and general information on any topic. Wikipedia has perhaps become one of the first places where a visitors journey really starts?

Wikipedia is here to stay and with a readership of 365 million per month it may very well the best place to start if you want to engage an online audience.

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Filed under Social Media, statistics

Video is Everywhere.

I’ve been giving the idea of video sharing a bit of thought recently, mostly since I’ve been editing a conservation video for Clandon Park, in fact I’ve attached the test version. Video sharing isn’t a new idea by any means, the often quoted fact is that youtube is the second most used search engine on the web.  What is new and is noticeable every time you go on facebook is that social networks are being used increasingly to share video between friends. I find the growing trend interesting for a couple of reasons.

Firstly it marks a growing change in the way we view videos, increasingly we are sharing videos via social media and the number of unique view from places like facebook and twitter are on the rise. If you want to share a video the best place to start it would appear is on these social media sites.

Secondly there is a growing trend to create ‘playlist’ of videos on social media websites for the benefit or your friends online. These tend to come in the form of music videos that the user likes or in some cases favourite film clips but people are also sharing videos that interest them and hopefully online friends. I find it interesting because these users are curating video clips and sharing them online.

With growing bandwidth it is now easier than ever to stream high quality videos at home. The increase in 3G enabled smartphone has also seen the increase in the idea of watching videos on the move. This doesn’t stop with the ability to watch videos through youtube or other social media sites though. As network access/speed increases and cameras get better in mobile devices the ability to make videos and upload them on the move will grow.

I really like the idea of user generated videos made on the move and uploaded via smartphones  and shared socially.  It could be used in any numbers of ways, like navigation by recommendation or even a crowd curated video competition.  In 2o11 video will be everywhere!

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Filed under Mobile Video, Social Media, Youtube

Ones to Watch in 2011

As ever at the start of the year, various media outlets produce a list of top picks in 2011. Mashable the news website and blog which focuses on all that is new social, mobile and web wise have rather helpfully put together a list of the 95+ predictions for the web in 2011.

They’re all worth a read, however I picked out a couple which I think are the most interesting with regards to museums and heritage and in particular collections.  I’ve also dropped in a few examples and ideas how they could possibly benefit our work in engaging new audiences.

My first pick of the 95 predictions is in the category of predictions for social networks in 2011. I think the most interesting is number 6; that ‘mobile photo sharing will become all the rage’. I think this has loads of potential, especially when you consider the increasing relaxed rules with regards to photography at some of the trusts places.

I instantly thought of a blog entry written by Nina Simon about navigation by recommendation. The question she asked of the visitors at the museum was what they recommended they saw. However the main thing I liked was the pictures of people with their favourite object. I love the pictures of the visitors with their favourite objects, especially the chap in the AC/DC t-shirt with his favourite armoire.

When you think about it, the surge in numbers of people with smart phones (3 of the 4 people who I regularly share an office with currently have an Iphone) mobile photosharing means this sort of activity is far easier to do and is instantly sharable. You could even create a challenge on foursquare or scvngr for people to take pictures of their favourite object. I think it’s a bit more interesting than the traditional ‘collection highlights’.

Which brings me to my next interesting prediction from the 5 predictions for mobile in 2011. The most interesting thing I noted was the prediction of the increased use of the Ipad and the use of tablets.  I can’t really justify buying one myself (yet!) but they do however provide a relatively cheap way for places to engage digitally with audiences.

Major institutions are using them to display specifically designed app’s. The Brooklyn Museum took a simpler approach and updated 25 wikipedia pages with research they had gathered during the production of the seductive subversion exhibition. The information was displayed on an ipad during the exhibition for visitors to access. A simple but effective way of using new technology!

I suppose ipad’s bring me neatly to my last pick from the e-book predictions. The use of tablet devices and smart phones has also saw the rise of the e-book.  Way back shortly after I started this job in July I talked about if e-books could ever replace the real thing. It seems increasingly likely to me that e-books will replace your standard paperback novel, as sad as this will be for many people with new technology there are always opportunities. E-books and Ipads have made it relatively cheap for museums to digitize books/manuscripts  in storage or behind glass cases in a way not generally possible previously.

So those are some of the ones to watch in 2011 and a couple of possible applications. What are you’re ones to watch in 2011?

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Filed under Collections, Ebooks, Ipad, Social Media

A trip to the tower

I was off work a couple of days last week to visit London with some friends, for most of us it was the first time we’d made a trip to the capital for either a long time or at all. The trip was interesting for a number of reasons; primarily the things we saw on our visits and secondly how often we used app’s and mobile web to plan where to visit and how to get there.

Taking in some of the interpretation panels in the Tower

I’d read an article someone had linked about guidebooks facing extinction a while back, but it hadn’t really hit me till I was in London over the weekend how true this statement was. We were planning on visiting some places which the guidebook told us were shut over the weekend, a quick search of google told us they weren’t. The guidebook had only been published 4 years ago; however it was already out of date.

Having made our plans, our next stage was finding somewhere to eat. Where traditionally we may have looked through a guide or the information in the room (we looked at this after our phones), instead out came the Iphones. Using App’s like Yelp and Around Me, we were able to quickly not only find a restaurant we’d like to go to we also were able to look at tips and reviews people had left about the place.

We eventually settled on a Tapas restaurant down the road, which was again quite interesting due to it’s door handle. I’ve attached a picture below;

Even something like a door handles can become a talking point.

What was interesting about the door handle was it became a sort of social object when one individual mentioned ‘how much they liked the handle’ it inevitably started a conversation among us about the handle too! It was interesting to see how such a small thing can create such interest in people!

A bedroom fit for a king, inside the Medieval Palace

Our trips during the day took us to the Tower of London and the Imperial War Museum, again using our Iphone to check opening times, the nearest tube station etc. I thoroughly enjoyed both visits; I particularly liked the interpretation of the medieval palace at the Tower.

In harsh conditions to punish them for wrong doings - 381821 votes

I’ve tried the App’s out in lots of different places, and certain ones did work a lot better in London than other places. Polesden Lacey currently has 4 tips on Foursquare, one is a general comment, two are largely positive and one is negative. However with the growth in the numbers of Iphones and use of Android OS etc, I’m sure using App’s to find out this sort of information and leave comments and tips will become the norm. Of course there are still some places where getting a signal is not brilliant, one of the issues we have at Trust properties.

Our Iphones finally fail us on the Tube in London.

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Filed under App's, Social Media

The Mountains of Web 2.0

I was updating the title bar for my blog yesterday, as you will see above with images from our collections as opposed to the books which came as standard (which I’ve been meaning to do for the last few months). On logging on to wordpress I saw this featured blog. The geeky but very popular webcomic xkcd produced a new map of online social communites.

It’s an interesting if not entirely scientific representation of based on how popular communities are based on social interaction as opposed to total membership.  Another similar version of the above was also carried out by marketing firm Flotown, both show what has become the pre-eminence of facebook. What is really interesting is if you compare it to the 2007 version below.

Look at how small facebook is compared to Myspace, similarly twitter is notable by its non-existence, something that is hard to believe these days.  One of the other interesting things you notice about the 2010 version is the enlargement of size of things like farmville, social gaming is increasingly popular (as anyone who has a facebook account and is constantly spammed by request to join friends in games will know!).

One of my own favourite things is ‘the plain of awkward social family interaction’ as older users have flocked to facebook in recent years, it appears that the younger audience has dropped off. Maybe having your mother comment on your pictures proves too much for some!

Talking about facebook, it also has provided a platform for a new page for Edward Hussey III of Scotney Castle. The page will be updated a couple of times a week with information from Edwards diaries etc from Maidstone Archives between now and Christmas. It will add snippets of information about the construction of the new house at Scotney and also contain links to images in the collection. So if you want to know Edwards 13 objections to the old house at Scotney, please check out his page!

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Filed under Collections, National Trust, Social Media

Second Life Museums

One thing about driving for a long time is after the first couple of hours the conversation turns to surreal topics. One of the topics of conversation that did come up was about 2nd life during my trip to Fort George. Having seen it installed on my brothers laptop before we set off (he tells me he doesn’t play it though!) we inevitably talked about it being in the news a couple of months back. My brother was explaining to me about Universities were giving lectures using 2nd life as it was a cheap way of doing distance learning.

However being a bit of a geek I was interested in if anyone had used it for building Museums. So I typed ‘2nd life Museum’ into google this afternoon and not too much to my suprise lots of people had got there first. Heres a video of the 2nd life representation of the Natural History Museum in London:

It seems I’m not the only one who has had the idea, heres an interesting article from 2007 Museums and the Web Conference. Much like real life, 2nd life has its very own museum community.

The whole thing has got me thinking could we use 2nd life too? You can create anything you like in 2nd life according to the website. So why not an entire digital replica of one of our properties?

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Filed under augmented reality, online exhibitions, Social Media