This is the first post in a three-part series dealing with the concept, implementation and outcomes of the Mattress Factory's SCREENtxt project. View post #2 HERE.
I think it's safe to say that social media has revolutionized the way arts organizations are communicating with their constituents. Most would agree that social platforms like Weblogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the like – when used properly – are valuable tools for organizations operating under limited budgets as they attempt to facilitate an engaging dialog with audiences.
Emerging technologies have made the potential for instant and meaningful communication a realistic possibility. And with a little bit of creativity, these days, the sky's the limit.
I have been Tweeting on behalf of the museum for some time now. And don't get me wrong, Twitter is great. I enjoy being able to wax artistic with MF tweeps from all over the world, but what if a dialogue like this could extend beyond the percentage of people currently using Twitter into the realm of any MF visitor with a cell phone? The idea of communicating with visitors while they are on-site about the art they are viewing has been an attractive audience engagement concept for the museum. More than that, it would be even better if visitors could continue the discussion about MF art with past and future visitors after they've physically left the facility.
So that's what we're attempting to do.
Through a partnership with BrightKite, the location-based social network, we're launching an initiative we call SCREENtxt. Basically, SCREENtxt is a live text message (SMS) and photo stream populated by messages sent by Mattress Factory visitors and museum staff.
UPDATE (2/23/2009): As of February 23, the BrightKite wall now integrates with Twitter. This makes it very easy for existing Twitter users to post directly to the wall without registering with BrightKite. Now, any Twitter post containing the hashtag #MFtxt will appear in the Mattress Factory placestream. This also makes it very easy for those off-site to communicate with visitors on-site. We are currently revising our collateral material to reflect this new option.
We've hung a 42" flat screen TeeVee in the museum lobby that will display text messages and photos sent by museum visitors. When available, and when appropriate, museum staff can pop into the conversation to answer questions or engage in the discussion.
Participants will also be able to send direct messages to one another as long as they're opted-in to the service. All SCREENtxt activity can be viewed online via a sidebar portal here on the MF blog that links to this dedicated URL, the idea being that a participant who visited the museum weeks ago will be able to communicate with someone currently on-site about their MF experience.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This is an experiment. Much like the MF iConfess project, we have no idea how this is going to turn out. I anticipate that we'll be learning and adapting along the way. I look forward to sharing our experiences with you. As always, I love to hear from readers. Hit up the comments or shoot me an email. Up Next: Part II - Implementation
Posted by JEFFREY