Title:Social Presence: New Value for Networked Museum Audiences
Authors:Brian Dawson, Fraser McDonald, Gabrielle Trépanier
Publication:Museums and the Web 2008: Selected Papers from an International Conference
Editors:Jennifer Trant and David Bearman
Publisher:Archives & Museum Informatics

Social networking sites have achieved a critical mass of popularity in an astonishingly short period of time. Sites such as Facebook have become part of mass culture, and now rank among the most popular sites on the Web. These sites are radically changing on-line behaviours in the process. Museums are frequently represented in these spaces, whether or not they actively participate. This paper examines social networking sites as a distinct, strategic point of presence for museums. It studies specific experiments with social media, including a detailed analysis of a Facebook group used by the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation's Membership Program. It applies two theoretical models ? the "Innovation Radar" and genre analysis ? to help analyze the nature of the opportunities for innovation, and to develop a better understanding of the distinctive characteristics of alternate communication channels. It looks closely at the new value that can be generated from such experiments, such as audience engagement and new avenues for research. It explores the challenges of measuring success with emerging media, and how organizational objectives and measures can affect the decisions institutions make in participating in on-line social networks. It also considers how these sites may create both organizational challenges and opportunities by enabling greater involvement in innovation and audience engagement by a broader base of museum participants.