After our Friday Night Live pilot series in the spring of 2012, the senior management team was looking for a way to visually engage visitors throughout the museum via social media. We had used traditional text-based twitter walls during the initial spring series but we wanted something that was visual and would encourage people to interact with it and share their experience. More specifically, we wanted a twitter wall that would display photos in real time.
After a little research I was surprised to find only a few service providers and Sharypic had all of the capabilities we needed. At first, people weren’t really sure what to do with the photo wall but soon people started to see photos up on the wall from personal twitter accounts and from @ROMToronto. The engagement picked up as people began to realize that we were streaming their photos in real time. It was great and somewhat amusing to see people taking photos of their photos on the photo wall. Some people even tweeted those photos and tagged them with #tweetception, a popular hashtag on Twitter. People began to share photos of objects they found interesting in the galleries or the fun they were having in the Discovery Gallery, while trying on costumes and digging for dinosaur bones. They also shared photos of their friends and their food and drinks - things they really enjoyed. There was also a lot of photos of groups of friends or couples on dates which was great to see, it let us know who was visiting and why, for a date night or just a fun time with friends.
The first night we had the photo wall in one of the galleries but there was limited engagement. We also had the photo wall on the screens behind the admissions desk and behind one of the bars on the main level. People noticed but it wasn’t really ‘in their faces’. The second night we put it on the biggest wall in the museum, front and center in the main area and the engagement took off! We also decided to use the photo wall to display programming information and key messages, like when the bars closed, what artists were playing where, etc. This combo of having the photo wall on the main screen and displaying key messages from the museum really ramped up the engagement and we continued this model for a few weeks. Also, the real time aggregation of both Twitter and Instagram photos was the key feature for us. Having the ability to gather, post and share those photos in real time was exactly what we were looking for. Also, the ability for the live cascading photo wall was equally important, it is great to be able to gather the photos but to be able to post a large photo wall live at the event was epic!
Next we moved the photo wall to a smaller screen but front and center on the dance floor. There was slightly less engagement than when the photo wall was on the larger wall but people still shared a lot of content. If you want to have a lot of content shared you have to display the wall where people will see it for long enough to figure out what they are watching. People always want to ‘see their name in lights’ so once they understood how to get their content on the wall, that’s when the engagement took off. Over the 8 week season, 947 people contributed over 2,000 photos!
As for moderation, Sharypic offers two forms of moderation but I didn’t really use it to its full extent. I trusted people wouldn’t post inappropriate content from personal twitter accounts on the wall and, ultimately, the content was being viewed by an adult audience (Friday Night Live is 19+) and I knew I could always hide something if I felt it was inappropriate. We did get a few (maybe five over the whole series) spam photos but nothing serious or disturbing. This is territory a lot of museums have not yet ventured so the option of the two types of photo moderation was also a key component for us, explaining that to my bosses put a lot of minds at ease!
I hope you were able to make it out to the fall 2012 season of Friday Night Live and take part in the photo wall. Let me know if you think we should bring it back or try something new for the return of Friday Night Live in May, 2013!!