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How Do You Spell Interactive? T-A-T-E

by on August 12, 2010

Tate Museum is one of the most followed brands on twitter. A blog written by Matt Rhodes on Fresh Networks in June 2010 stated that Tate Museum was the top U.K. brand on twitter; it has since fallen into the top 10 brands on twitter. I found this insight very interesting; that a museum would be the U.K.’s most followed brand (at the time of Matt’s post) and the more research I did, I learned why.

Tate is a family of four museums: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St. Ives, all of which showcase both modern and contemporary art. Tate’s mission is “to increase public knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art through the Collection and an inspiring programme in and well beyond our galleries.” And they are achieving this mission through a host of digital tools, which include a facebook account, a twitter account, a YouTube Channel, podcasts, etc. Tate is truly using facebook and twitter to connect with museum goers and to inform museum enthusiast about new or current exhibits. They way they announce this information is attention grabbing, for example, a post said :

  • “Music and Art, wellies or suncream?! Don’t miss Rude Britannia at THE BIG CHILL festival this weekend…”

And another said:

  • “and the weather forecast for the weekend resembles: ‘Rain Footsteps Siren’ by Julian Opie”

The latter post included a link to a picture about the exhibit which is featured on Tate’s Web site.

Tate has over 96,600 facebook fans and over 136,000 twitter fans. On their facebook page, they have ads about a Tate Summer Sale, an ad announcing a photo contest that they are running in conjunction with an exhibit at Tate Modern, and a weekly Tate debate. There’s no information about the effectiveness about the sale and the contests, but the debate is definitely engaging fans. Last week’s debate topic yielded 59 comments. While this number pales in comparison to their number of fans, I think 59 comments is impressive because it means that fans are really engaged with the brand. They even allow fans to create discussions on their [TATE] facebook page. On twitter, they are tweeting the same type of information as they are posting on facebook. The reason why facebook is so effective for Tate, and probably other U.K. based companies, is because there are 27.4 million facebook users in the U.K., according to facebakers. I was unable to find data stating the number of U.K. twitter users; however, I found an article that said stated that the U.K. has the 2nd highest penetration of twitter users in the world, second to the U.S., so it makes since as to why TATE is using twitter.

Their YouTube channel has 61,079 page views, 630,117 upload views, and 3,016 video subscribers. Some of the videos are an explanation of specific exhibits and some are interviews of the artist, explaining how they came about making certain exhibits; there might be other videos, but these are two prominent types of videos. This channel is adored by YouTube users, comments on their channel include:

  • how do you be so awesome?
    Your videos are so cool, I stayed up till midnight to watch the Wood/Harrison series.
    Man it’s all good stuff!!
  • Hi! You have some great videos there! I love Tate Modern too!
  • The great Tate Modern

There are definitely some irrelevant comments on the channel; however, a lot of the comments are positive about the channel and Tate museums. They also have podcasts; online donations; and an online blog, but [the blog] doesn’t have as much online traffic and interaction as does their facebook and twitter account.

I was able to find statistics about the effectiveness of their digital efforts; however, I’m sure that they increased traffic into the museums. The reasoning behind my statement is because after researching them, I want to visit the museum and participate in the interactive efforts.

Matt Rhodes’ blog post concluded that Tate is so popular on twitter because they are:

  1. Informing –Simple and straightforward information and the Tate is great for that. It uses Twitter to provide a one-stop-shop to find out what’s on, when and where at the Tate. Telling people about what is coming up and what is currently on.
  2. Responding – The Tate uses Twitter to respond to people who have been to their galleries. They ask people what they thought of their experience and respond to the feedback that they give. They also go out of their way to help people who have queries or problems and the manner in which they do this shows clearly that there are real people updating Twitter and interacting with people on it. (See how they have helped @gorgeousuk)
  3. Having fun – The Tate has a clear personality on Twitter and has fun that is relevant to the museum, its galleries and the interests of its followers. From fun photos inside the galleries to fun tweets they show that they are real people and that they really connect with their followers. I particularly like when they compare the weather on a day to pieces in their collection.

All of which is true; all three characteristics also apply to their facebook page. People like to be engaged by brands, they don’t just want to see links to articles, they want contests, debates, etc. – they want that interaction and Tate gives them that. Their approach to digital strategies is well thought-out and executed (with their exception of the blog); other museums, not just in London, should definitely follow suit.  The well-known Smithsonian Institute is using social media in an identical method.

From → United Kingdom

One Comment
  1. Great topic choice again and I enjoyed the way that you offered plenty of evidence to point to why TATE is doing so many engaging things and how it is working for them. What got a bit confusing was your perspective on why they were so engaging and all of this was working so well for them. In this case, the great blog post you found outlining why TATE was so successful on Twitter seemed to limit your own thinking and angle on this point … and your post ended up seeming quite similar in a conclusion to the blog post you mentioned at the beginning of your post without offering your own unique take on it. It is an interesting an easy trap to fall into which I have done myself where you find a great resource and the point of view you read makes so much sense that you internalize it. The next step which this post didn’t quite take was to turn that initial insight into something that could be your own conclusion (apart from what you have read) about what you found that made TATE’s efforts stand apart from everyone else. (4)

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