The Emerging Stars of Museum Social Media – A Pandemic Journey

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in a multitude of ways, from the mundane and obvious to the more surprising.  One of the sectors that has taken social media by storm is, shockingly, the heritage sector.  When we think about museums, we think of educational school visits, highbrow tourism, and parents desperately trying to keep their kids entertained during the summer break.  Museums are usually a highly visual activity, such as spending hours meandering the halls of the Louvre or basking in the art in the Hermitage.  Sometimes they are interactive and engaging, with lots of hands-on exhibits and things we can touch.  When we think about museums, though, the online component is not the most obvious.

Like many industries, the heritage sector has taken a major hit as a result of yo-yoing lockdowns, stay at home orders, and social distancing.  Many museums are running at limited capacity and most smaller institutions have closed down completely for the duration.  Without visitors, it could signal a death knell for a museum if they are not able to retain public interest.  So, in this era of social media, the museum nerds have done what nerds do best.  They’ve taken to the internet and spread their passion for their subject to the world, in a variety of quirky ways.

A Friendly Rivalry

Museums across the world have used the pandemic as an excuse to show off some of their collections online using media such as Twitter and Instagram.  Over the course of several months, curators have built up a friendly rivalry when it comes to their artifacts, with so-called ‘curator battles’ taking place on a regular basis.  Started early on in the pandemic, the Yorkshire Museum in the UK challenged its international colleagues to a series of battles of the best objects, with hashtags such as #BestMuseumBum, #CreepiestObject, and #SassiestObject trending on Twitter as part of the #curatorbattle.

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With so many obscure and attractive objects, it’s hard to say who won each of these battles.  Enthusiasts the world over can’t wait to see what sort of themes they come up with next!

An Unconventional Star

With museums’ doors closed for the foreseeable future, staff are working at home as much as possible, which adds an added layer of complication when maintaining a vibrant and relevant social media presence.  One museum in the United States found a good solution to the problem of their staff not being on site.  The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City made the unusual decision to delegate their social media posts to the one employee who is always on site – the head of security! 

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Tim the security guard has become an internet sensation with his appealingly naïve posts on the museum’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.  For the museum’s followers, it’s been an entertaining voyage into the technological awakening of a social media novice, with Tim learning such skills as posting photos, tagging people, and using hashtags.  Over the last twelve months, we’ve learned more about Tim in these posts that we have about the museum, and people are loving it.

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Audience Participation

It’s not just the museums themselves who have become involved in social media trends to stave off pandemic fatigue.  The general public have embraced the opportunity to break up the monotony of lockdowns by engaging in making their own art replicas.  The trend of people creating elaborate setups in their homes to imitate famous artworks has swept across the world, with efforts ranging from the half-hearted to the epically brilliant.  Instagram and Twitter have become awash with Mona Lisas, Girls with Pearl Earrings, and Screams. 

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Searching Instagram for #mettwinning, #betweenartandquarantine, and #gettymuseumchallenge can provide hours of fun for the art aficionado and casual scroller alike.

What Next?

As the pandemic shows no sign of dying down any time soon and people are spending another winter in isolation, museums are continuing to innovate and bring entertainment to the masses in the form of online virtual tours, webinars and lecture series, and interactive challenges.  What’s coming next, you may wonder.  If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that human beings with nothing to do will find ever more creative ways to keep themselves entertained.  If they can learn a little bit about culture any heritage along the way, then so much the better.  So, when you’re scrolling through the internet on a chilly afternoon in lockdown, think about the wealth of online offerings from our world’s greatest cultural institutions and consider getting involved in the latest sensation brought to you by our emerging social media stars.

If you’re looking to get involved in the art challenge, you can find more information on Facebook.

For upcoming lectures by the Bytown Museum, you can find more information on Twitter.

References

Bruner, R. (2020, April 10). People Start Trend to Re-create Classic Art Amid Coronavirus. Time. https://time.com/5817117/coronavirus-art-history/.

Dafoe, T. (2020, July 16). A UK Museum Challenged Bored Curators Around the World to Find Art History’s ‘Best Bums.’ See Their Cheeky Responses Here. Artnet News. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/newest-twitter-challenge-uk-museum-called-arts-best-bums-see-cheeky-responses-1895028.

Guardian News and Media. (2020, April 20). Museums hold Twitter showdown to find world’s creepiest exhibit. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/apr/20/museums-hold-twitter-showdown-to-find-worlds-creepiest-object.

Home Page. Yorkshire Museum. (2021, January 14). https://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/.

Oklahoma City, OK. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. (2021, January 12). https://nationalcowboymuseum.org/.

Pesce, N. L. (2020, March 27). This security guard at a cowboy museum is learning the ropes on Twitter, and it’s everything right now. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-security-guard-at-a-cowboy-museum-is-learning-the-ropes-on-twitter-and-its-everything-right-now-2020-03-27.

2020: Was It the Year of All Things Social Media?

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

We have officially made it to 2021, a year of recovering and hope, a year that seemed to have taken it’s sweet time getting here. 2020 was a devastating year to many, it was a time where the world was locked in their homes, away from friends and family, leaving them to turn to social media to connect. This was the biggest year for social media according to Hootsuite, 3.8 billion people, or 49 percent of the planet’s population, were active on social media. I would be lying if I said looking at my screen time these days didn’t alarm me, I devoted most of my 2020 year to watching TikTok video’s and planning out my Instagram feed, as I am sure many of you can relate.

For a year that was mostly distanced, I did find it one of my most social, I found myself on Facetime, Imessage, and Messenger more then ever before. I had nothing but time to reach out and check up on what some of my friends and family were doing, it confused me as I had never been closer to people, despite the physical distance. The amount of new apps that were downloaded on my phone in 2020 was at an all time high, I had downloaded TikTok the week of the first lockdown, I truly believe it was one of the only things keeping me entertained, as my attention was only needed for a 15-60 second video, until I would swipe to the next, which I did for countless hours and days. I don’t believe that the app would of had as much success as it did if it wasn’t for the pandemic, people chose to laugh and bond over an app that helped escape the reality that was 2020.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

With much of the world in a stay at home order, many people lost their jobs or had to work from home, you could say that people involved in social media work were quite lucky as it was almost like business as usual, but in their pyjamas. Influencers also had the ability to continue working almost as normal, with people turning to their phones more then ever, the attention was on them to grow and promote. Online shopping was heavily abused throughout the year, I can promise I made up a good chunk of that percentage. With people constantly scrolling through their social apps and seeing all the brands and influencers posting about the latest trends, and with nothing on the calendar to look forward to, why not order a little something to keep a lookout for in the mail. In many ways, social media had a hand in keeping 2020 afloat.

So if 2020 was the year of all things social media, what is in store for 2021? Will we top the numbers from the year before? How will this affect us once we return to our normal routines? Will we be doing TikTok dances at our desks? These are the questions I am left asking myself. I am hopeful and excited to see what is to come for 2021 on all things social media and our normal lives. What app did you spend your time on in 2020? What do you think is to come from all of this in 2021? Share your thoughts below!

Sources :

https://www.hootsuite.com/

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201216-how-tiktok-changed-the-world-in-2020

Clean & Fresh – Bidets are the BEST!

Wanna know the first thing my husband and I ordered as soon as we knew that we were going to start looking for our first home? BIDETS! Yes, you heard me right, Bidets – PLURAL. For those of you not in the know, bidets are a handy and slightly controversial bathroom fixture that helps you freshen up after “using the facilities” via a jet of water (sometimes cold or sometimes hot).

And the options are endless – never before could you customize your “clean-up” process to the extent that you can now! Cleanup via a handheld nozzle? Separate Fixture? Simple toilet-seat attachment? Or all-in-one? The choice is yours! Heated Seat? For sure! Want a soft, blue, calming night-light? Whynot! Customized music playlist? OBVIOUSLY! It’s like a spa for your derriere – so why are you STILL using toilet paper down there?

Image by Pillar Resources

The fact is that Bidets are very common in other parts of the world (they’ve been around since the time of Napoleon) and it’s only just now that North America has started to take an interest; probably has something to do with the fact that we all went so overboard with over-purchasing toilet paper that we created a shortage…but also due to brands like Omigo, Brondell, and Tushy making them more readily available.

Tushy in particular has a huge social media marketing campaign and have deliberately made their eco-conscious brand voice upfront and in your face with slogans like:

“The modern bidet that saves your ass, saves your money, saves the planet and saves the world,” (https://hellotushy.com/).

I freaking love my Tushy 😉 It was probably one of the most affordable, easy to install, and space efficient of all the options we considered. Although I get a lot of startled reactions I’m happy to say I get just as many curious or grateful reactions when they learn that bidets are available in our home.

So, whaddya think? Are you willing to consider lessening your ecological footprint, saving some money, and having a cleaner derriere? Join the rest of the World – You’ll Love it Over Here!!

Find me on Facebook and Twitter for more wacky opinions and posts @shesanoddball

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Sources:

Galamba, E. (2020, March 18). A brief history of the Bidet, an Italian passion. Retrieved from https://www.wantedinmilan.com/news/a-brief-history-of-the-bidet-an-italian passion.html#:~:text=Napoleon’s%20bidet%20was%20designed%20for,on%20all%20of%20his%20travels.

Hello Tushy. (2020). Retrieved from https://hellotushy.com/

Breaking Bread Through Social Media

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Has your social media feed been bombarded by people baking lately?  Mine has! Everyone seems to be trying their hands at this age-old tradition, and I have to say that I am guilty of taking part in the craze myself.

Like many, we are looking for things to do while we are self-isolating during this covid-19 pandemic. From jigsaw puzzles, to baking, to even TikTok videos, we are all just trying to cope and have fun AT HOME during these uncertain times.

Baking has become so popular these last few months that it has been challenging to find some pantry staples in our grocery stores.  Ingredients like yeast and flour are like gold when you find them.  Food rationing and “fear cuisine” has not been part of our generation’s vernacular.  However, during the Great Depression and World War II this was a very common sensation as ingredients, in particular sugar and butter, were just not available (Julian, 2020).  One of the outcomes of this rationing was the creation of a chocolate cake recipe called “Wacky Cake”, it turns the most basic ingredients (i.e. flour, cocoa powder, vinegar, etc.) into a yummy dessert (Julian, 2020).

What differentiates us from those living during the Great Depression or World War II, is that we are not making wacky cake, we are making sourdough with a side of dalgona coffee it seems, and we are sharing our creations, and even our fails, on social media.  Hashtags such as #covidbaking and #covidcooking have popped up, and show a slew of tasty treats, some prettier than others.

With the craziness of what is going on around us, there definitely is something so comforting about the aroma of baked bread or cake wafting through the house, and sharing those treats (albeit virtually right now) to stay connected to those we miss and to inspire others to do the same, because sharing is caring, right?

What tasty treats provide you comfort, and have you shared them on social media during this pandemic?

Source:
Julian, S. (2020, May 05). When cooks in the Great Depression had no eggs and butter, they baked anyway – The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/05/05/lifestyle/when-cooks-great-depression-had-no-eggs-butter-they-baked-anyway/

Social media posts:
Twitter: Let them eat cake (or bread, or anything else I am baking during a pandemic). https://bit.ly/2XeYQWd #covidbaking #covidcooking #baking #bread #covid19

Facebook: Let them eat cake (or bread, or anything else I am baking during a pandemic). Food still unites us all during a pandemic. https://bit.ly/2XeYQWd #covidbaking #covidcooking #baking #bread #covid19

A Virtual Call to the Cross

A Virtual Call to the Cross

When was the last time you jumped on the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page of your local church? Traditional churches often view social media as the great unknown, but also a necessary part of life today. Did social media and the recent COVID-19 pandemic push the church to a change that it so desperately needed? 

Image Source: Shayla from Pexels

The genesis of the church and social media: Social media felt like it popped up overnight, one day everyone was talking about The Facebook and how it would change the world of communications. The use of social media promised the church a way to communicate with our local communities and those outside the church walls. While social media certainly enables us to do just that, the church’s greatest downfall was the lack of proper use or knowledge of this wonderful new platform.

Like every other great idea in the church, it was quickly followed with the question, “who will do it?”. Your church may have been lucky enough to have a tech savvy clergy who saw social media as part of their ministry, or maybe you had some youth members with an interest in social media, but more often than not, the inevitable would happen, the dedicated 70-year-old volunteer would step up to the plate. The volunteer would try, they really would, but Facebook messages were left unanswered, posts were really just clip art posters of the next community dinner, and everyone would wonder, “why is this not working?”. 

The 48 hours that changed it all: The coronavirus quickly took over our media in January 2020, National Post reminds us that January 27th was Canada’s first confirmed case (National Post, 2020, para. 1), but it was not until early March that we really began to take notice and see the virus had hit our local towns and cities.

While we watched the media closely, and talks of shutting down the economy were happening, March 13th was the day the churches never saw coming. As read in this letter (Germond, 2020, para. 2), the Anglican Bishops of Ontario collectively shut down the church buildings effective Sunday, March 15th – public worship was no more. Like it or not, the 48-hour countdown for church leaders to learn social media, was on. 

Over the following 48 hours, clergy self-taught, YouTubed, and prepared to worship online come Sunday morning.  Many tried pre-recording their service and uploading it to YouTube, others discovered the “go live” function on Facebook and Instagram, and still others went to Zoom and held their worship there. Some clergy did a simple morning prayer, some services still had organ music, but the one thing that each service had in common, was the fact that clergy were finally learning how to best use their social media platforms, and interact with not only their congregation, but the community at large. Whatever their new strategy, they had 48 hours until the inevitable Sunday morning, when social media would change the church as we knew it.   

In an interview with Rev. Jon Martin of The Anglican Parish of South Dundas, he reflects, “The 48 hours were a fantastic challenge. Suddenly all the superficial and not terribly important things fell away, and we had two days to focus on one thing: connecting with the people we serve.” (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

Within 48 hours, these clergy did the one thing that the world needed most – in the midst of the chaos of a global pandemic, they provided hope and a virtual safe space for their communities to gather.

Image Source: Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Facebook Post. Created by Danson, Heidi

How long will we worship in our pyjamas? Every Sunday morning for the past ten weeks, I have gotten out of bed, poured a cup of coffee, and tuned into a virtual church service – very rarely at the same church as the week before. The pandemic has not only made church services easily accessible to all, but it has given us the option to go to church around the world! A unique experience brought to us by social media. While we all ponder the question, Rev. Martin answers,

“How long will we worship in our pyjamas? As long as we need to. We have connected with people who might never have darkened our door. We have become part of their weekly lives. To abandon those relationships, in ways that are meaningful to our online viewers, would be inconsistent with my understanding of Christian hospitality, and would give up an excellent source of discernment and revelation for the church. We have finally been welcomed into the homes of our neighbours. Let’s not waste the opportunity.”  (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

Bishop-Elect Shane Parker mentions in this Crosstalk article (Williams, 2020, pg. 10, 12) that there is a lot to be learned from this pandemic in terms of communications, and that this will help us form better communication plans for the future.  

It is clear that social media has worked wonders for the church during this pandemic. Had social media not been an option, perhaps congregations would have remained in contact, and phone trees would have been established to check in on fellow parishioners, but as Rev. Martin says it best, “I don’t think we would have been anywhere near as capable of reaching into the homes of people who were not already members.” (Martin, J., personal communication, May, 22, 2020).

From the Facebook page that was nothing more than an online version of the announcement sheet for the church, to a full blown, online only worship experience, reaching people we never thought possible – how quickly the church has changed and adapted in only 71 days, all thanks to social media. 

Tell us about your online worship experience in the comments below! Have you tried online worship? What about a zoom bible study? And if you haven’t, why not? 

Sources:

Anglican Diocese of Ottawa [Danson, Heidi]. (2020, March 16) [Facebook Post] Retrieved from www.facebook.com/OttawaAnglican

Canadian Post, The and National Post Staff. (2020, January 27). First Canadian coronavirus case officially confirmed, second is presumptive, 19 people under investigation. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-confirms-second-coronavirus-case-the-wife-of-the-first-case

Germond, Anne. (2020, March 13). Written letter from The Office of the Metropolitan of Ontario – The Anglican Church of Canada. Retrieved from https://9ef5c27f-7387-4dd8-862b-ad696f6d1746.filesusr.com/ugd/5893ce_fa19996cd7c34dbcaa6f61f901cc21ce.pdf

Williams, Leigh Anne. (2020, May). A conversation with Bishop-Elect Parker. Crosstalkpp.10, 12. 

Promotion

Facebook: “We had two days to focus on one thing: connecting with the people we serve.” Read about how social media and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the church to the change that it so desperately needed. https://bit.ly/3ehuSqt

Twitter: Did social media and the COVID-19 pandemic push the church to a change that it so desperately needed? #ChangingTheChurch https://bit.ly/3ehuSqt