Social Media Handbook: for Cultural Institutions & Professionals




The importance of social media for a cultural professional cannot be ruled out in an age where the focus is increasing on better ways to engage audiences. According to Smart Insights, 3.8 billion people have access to at least one social media platform, globally. This makes it one of the best ways to reach your audiences and market your museums digitally. But we know that already.

When eggs are breaking the internet and when Dolly Parton is sending challenge-vibes across the world, how do you ensure the attention of your audience? Social media might seem overwhelming, and it can take a while to convert your audience into a community; or get your followers to move from likes to love… to share… to contribute!

Enter…the Social Media Handbook for museums and cultural professionals.

This social media handbook for cultural institutions and professionals covers strategy-making & best practices about Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and other platforms.

I decided to publish this handbook after speaking to museum professionals in India and Germany. Some commonly heard social media blues that I came across:

This is not my job – the museum has a digital team “

Social media use is a personal choice really. However, in the interest of your organization and professional growth, social media can help by fostering connections with peers; build access to credible information for audiences and generally keep up with industry conversation and trends. From the perspective of a cultural organization, having key employees / Curators / Directors active on social media only helps take the brand voice further in an authentic manner.

↗️ This handbook will help you develop a social media policy for employees

Social media takes up so much time

Yes, that is true – though there are many tools that can help make it a breeze! If you are using social media for professional or personal use, you can choose to spend as little as 1 hour and as much as 6 hours on it!

How much time should you spend on your institutional account?

Depending on the size of your institution and team, developing social media content can be a monthly / weekly task. Dedicated time however, must be spent on engaging and interacting with audiences, listening to them and keeping track of your posts. Tracking your posts and their reach / effectiveness helps you plan content and indicates your strengths / loopholes. Without tracking, social media posting is equivalent to throwing messages in a river, hoping it will reach the right person. 

This said, it is important for museums (no matter their size) to dedicate human ( & financial) resources to social media marketing. It is NOT a side-job.

The interns handle our social media – young people ‘understand’ digital 

Many small museums echo this sentiment. However, while social media needs a savvy eye, it also needs vision, and community building skills. Interns can always help with social media through taking pictures, designing graphics, creating editing videos. These tasks though, must be guided by a strategy / plan or schedule. It is important that cultural institutions define their social media goals in advance to be more effective. 

↗️ This handbook will help you develop a social media strategy

The ‘Social’ part of Social Media

Take a look at this screenshot from Internet Live Stats (which will become stale data by the time you read it) highlighting the increasing volume of content on the internet by the second.

Your message is likely to be lost amidst those rapidly changing numbers. So how do you stand out and make a difference? It is crucially important to recognize the “Social” part of social media, and think of it as a way of building your community and nurturing relationships.

Once you have understood your audience, and the strengths of different social media platforms, it becomes easier to craft a message that will reach your community & serve its purpose.

↗️ This handbook hopes to be of help if you are just starting out or wondering how to grow your followers, what to post or simply wondering which platform to sign up on!

Download the Social Media Handbook here.

Download Navigating Twitter

?‍? More resources are coming soon! Watch this page

Don’t forget to review your Social Media Use

?? Using Analytics & Insights for each channel, review what mediums are working best for you or your institution

?? Review what type of content is working : video / images / blogs / funny content / informative content, etc.

?? Analyse platforms you are currently not using – are there any platforms you should use?

?? Conduct surveys or focus group discussions with your visitors and online audiences to understand their social media preferences. 


Anke Von Heyl [Specialist in visitor orientation, participatory methods and social media in culture], who took a look before anyone else did and contributed as well!

Ro Rode, [Digital Marketing Manager at Museum of Life and Science, Durham North Carolina] for contributing the Social Media Policy of her museum

Jasmin Hoffman and the entire team of ICOM Deutschland

Mahima Kaul and Payal Kamat of the Twitter India Team & my wonderful Twitter-mates

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Medhavi Gandhi
Medhavi Gandhi
Passionate about public access and engagement with cultural heritage. Always looking to learn and collaborate; firm believer in the power of the internet. Digging stories rooted in culture.

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