Making Bad Social Content History

by Georgia Sanders

Andrew Marcus, head of communications, Museum of London, gives us his unique insight on how companies should approach social content.

What is the most valuable tool for the Museum of London’s social content?

If you look at a lot of advertising for museums, it’s an object against a plain background. We really don’t want to do that; we want to show the surprising and irreverent nature of a visit to the Museum of London. We saw video as a really great alternate opportunity to tell our story.

When we displayed the world’s finest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobian jewellery, The Cheapside Hoard – a smash hit exhibition – we had Carol Walton, the chief editor of Vogue, on video talking about what an excellent collection it is. Similarly, when we held the Sherlock Holmes exhibition, we had Sir Ian McKellan talking about why Sherlock Holmes inspired him. We might have one of our experts talking about a topic in three minutes in a way which stretches our thinking on London.

What effect has the video use had on the museum team?

Something we’ve moved into is using video for corporate communications. A few years ago we launched a new strategy for the Museum of London with five objectives:

  • Reach more people; dramatically increase our footfall at both sides.
  • Become better known; raise our profile
  • Stretch thinking; encourage our visitors and others to have new perspectives on London
  • Stand on our own two feet; generate more income ourselves
  • Engage every school child.

Naturally, we use video as central to the role of that. Similarly, when we announced our vision to relocate from London wall to West Smithfield, we launched it in two ways. We had a big dinner with stakeholders and VIPs; simultaneously, we set a video live telling the world about that vision. Since then, because we are so excited about Smithfield, we commissioned a three-part documentary for our YouTube and Facebook channels, to really show people what an amazing area it is. It’s got history spanning over a thousand years, and today it’s really amazing and vibrant, and a truly wonderful and inspiring place.

How do you develop valuable content?

The challenge for us is not content, the challenge for us is being focussed, which is why we developed what we call our ABC tool kit. ABC toolkit stands for audience, brand and content.

I’ve worked in PR agencies before, where proprietary planning tools are your bread and butter. I don’t believe that any other museum – and a lot of other in house brands – have these kind of tools. It’s really powerful for us – it plays out in literally everything we do.

Is there a notable ROI from your use of video marketing?

In January, we opened an exhibition about tattooing in London, and we launched it with a video. The video was hugely successful, ran alongside a traditional PR campaign, and with some paid behind the video as well, but a really modest investment.

The subsequent Saturday had doubled the footfall from the previous Saturday, so we’ve got really tangible results.

We have experimented much less with paid on Twitter, so our Twitter reach is predominantly organic. What we are seeing is that when we are putting paid behind our content on Facebook…it doesn’t take a huge investment to do really well.

How can you ensure your brand personality is included in all the museum does?

When we rolled out the ABC toolkit, we spent a lot of time and effort rolling it out properly. We’re a living organisation; people come and go, but we need to maintain ABC at the heart.

Audience, Brand and Content are not owned by the comms or content divisions, it’s everybody’s.

We trust our staff to represent the brand, and they are amazing at it. I would encourage other marketers to do that. Brand personalities are everyone’s responsibility.