Home Instagram #DollyPartonChallenge : The real social-media message for museums

#DollyPartonChallenge : The real social-media message for museums

It was like any other day – except that instead of Friday-Feeling memes, #dollypartonchallenge was trending. But wait, what IS this challenge?

The Dolly Parton Challenge:

On January 21, Dolly Parton had social media on fire when she posted this 4-photo collage:

View this post on Instagram

Get you a woman who can do it all 😉

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton) on

The collage echoes how users show different sides of themselves on social media. The trend was quick to become a hashtag-challenge with celebrities joining in.

What we loved about the #dollypartonchallenge was how it got museums to join in! Take a look at some of our favourites from the western world:

If you think The Getty was spot on, check out these from the Royal Academy of Arts, UK & the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna:

Indian museums weren’t far behind. This was yet another opportunity for our museums to show off their fun side. Take a look:

First up is CSMVS Mumbai:

Art & Humour aside, the crucial message of the #DollyPartonChallenge is yet to be taken up by most museums : Social Media Marketing.

The Dolly Parton Challenge sparks the need to understand why content for each platform needs to be different. Let’s take the above mentioned social media platforms, and replace Tinder with Twitter (for the sanity of this post) : each of the platforms offer museums the widest possible reach.

The key, is to understand the audience you have on social media platforms & the content-style of each medium: this will help museums target better, and engage audiences. #DollyPartonChallenge #EmbraceDigital Click To Tweet

Customization is key – in the era of the #DollyPartonChallenge :

Museums will need to tailor content suited for different social media platforms according to it’s user base. [*Edited to Add* ] It is by no means necessary for museums to sign up on every platform.

  • While Facebook is great for building communities [think groups / events / and even contests], YouTube could be great for sharing all those Lectures / Panel Discussions. Youtube’s most popular videos are the “How To” ones : again, I would say, a great way to showcase how you got that conservation project right!
  • Twitter would be a better place to highlight quotes from those lectures / conferences and engage with industry peers and respond in real time to audiences. Twitter’s strength however is it’s international reach : with events like #AskACurator or #MuseumWeek being more popular on Twitter, this is a platform to engage with the international museum community.
  • As seen in almost all these DollyParton challenges, Instagram is the place where you get all aesthetics in, and appeal to the playful, yet curious side of your audiences. In the year to come, Instagram-shopping it set to become huge and museums can use the powerful feature to promote their stores and generate revenue. But results on Instagram aren’t achieved overnight.
  • Let’s also not ignore LinkedIn : this is one of the best platforms, along side Medium, to connect with peers from the museum industry, and have those longer discussions that Twitter might not allow for. It’s also a good place to share upcoming conferences, or after-thoughts; case studies or simply ask for professional help. Needless to say, it is a great place to RECRUIT.

Will museums take up the real #DollyPartonChallenge ? We can’t wait to see!

What we can say with full confidence though is : “Get you a woman who can do it all” [sincerely hoping Museum-Leadership takes to this; social media cannot be an extension of existing roles at museums anymore!]


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The Heritage Lab
The Heritage Lab
The Heritage Lab is a digital platform connecting museums & citizens through campaigns, public-engagement programs & free access content for youth, families and kids.
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