…a Facebook fanatic. For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s how Facebook describes itself.
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.”
You can link to Facebook’s info page by clicking here.
Honest to goodness, I can tell you exactly where I was standing the first time I heard of Facebook. It was the fall of 2006 and I was talking to the IMA’s PR Manager. Hanging out in her cubicle on a slow morning, we were reminiscing about Indiana University in the autumn (we are both alumna of IU). As we were nostalgically recalling the good times in Bloomington, she abruptly asked me “Do you Facebook?”
It was a jarring question. It seemed like such a simple thing that she asked me, but I had no idea what she was talking about. I was clueless.
A lot has changed since that conversation. It took me about a year to fully understand the capabilities of Facebook and it wasn’t until this past fall that I acquired my own profile. Now, I use Facebook as my primary means of communication with my friends. Through spending time on the site and understanding its capabilities, I’ve discovered it potential as a networking tool for museums like the IMA.
About a month ago, Facebook created a new way for nonprofits to use their site. Click here to find out more. Our Facebook Page allows for us to broadcast information such as videos, photos, and blogs (once ours become syndicated). It also allows our Facebook “fans” to post comments or recommendations about the museum. If you have a Facebook account, you can sign up to be our fan by searching for the Indianapolis Museum of Art on the site. When we show up in the search results, click “become a fan” in the right hand column. Right now, we have 44 fans. Honestly, most of them are my colleagues or friends. However, I have hope that by the end of the year we’ll have a much larger fan base built virally through the network of our current fans.
Beyond building our fan list, a big priority right now is making the content of our page more robust. It’s been a bit difficult. Facebook pages for museums are not nearly as dynamic as personal profiles. Many applications that will work for my personal profile (such as My Flickr and YouTube skins) aren’t available for the IMA’s page. However, I think a lot of that is due to the newness of these pages. Over time, I’m sure the museum will be able to do a lot more.
For many people like myself, Facebook is just a part of their daily routine. Like checking email and text messaging, it has emerged as a basic form of communication. I’m excited about this new form of audience engagement, but I’m also wary of the effects of marketing on Facebook. Personally, I don’t want my interactions with friends to be overwhelmed by the static of commercial messages. I think the possibilities of Facebook for communication are astounding, but I’m also aware that what we do on the site has to be authentic and personal. It’s a tightrope walk of communicating an institution without sounding institutional. I’d love to hear your feedback about the IMA’s new presence on Facebook. Let me know if you have questions, concerns, or compliments by leaving me a comment.