Ask a Curator Day is an annual event held on Twitter, dedicated to giving the public direct access to the expertise of curators and other experts from GLAM organisations all over the world.
Taking the form of a worldwide Q&A session, this is the public’s chance to find out everything they’ve always wanted to know, and your chance to engage with your audience in a new way. We’re less than two weeks out from Ask A Curator day, so what better time to post some tips for how to get involved?
Before the day
Of course you can just jump onto Twitter and get involved on the day, but if you would like to do a bit of prep work these tips can help you make the most of Ask a Curator Day.
Add your museum to the official list
Mar Dixon (instigator of Ask a Curator Day) keeps an official list of participating organisations on her website. While you can participate whether you are on this list or not, I’d recommend signing up and adding your name.
Plan some backup content
In the event that you don’t have much engagement on the day, it can be useful to have some interesting content you can post to help spark conversation and get a bit of attention. This could include photos of collections or assets, profiles of experts that are available to answer questions, or even just interesting trivia. Consider using a tool like Hootsuite to schedule this content ahead of time.
Let your followers know that you’re participating
This is definitely not the first Ask A Curator Day, but the concept is still unknown to many. In the lead up to the day promote your involvement, let people know what the day is about and how to get involved.
A lot of people are more familiar with other social networks and might not be too confident taking part in something like Ask A Curator Day on Twitter. To help guide these people, consider posting a message like this on your other social networks (Facebook, blog, etc).
This year’s #AskACurator Day is this Wednesday. To get involved jump on to Twitter and ask questions using the hashtag #AskACurator. You can direct questions directly to us at @yournamehere. Our experts will be online from 9 till 5 (ACST) to answer your questions.
Create a schedule for the day
There are two ways that organisations often get involved on the day. The first is to have a single facilitator managing the Twitter account and sourcing answer from experts as questions arise. The second is to have a schedule for the day, so that you have experts in specific fields available at certain times. If you choose to go down this route consider publishing a schedule so that followers can start thinking about their questions early, and make sure to be online when their preferred topic is being discussed.
On the day
Below are a few tips for how to make the most of the day.
- Answer all questions directed to you. The best way to prompt more engagement is to answer questions. Some of the best conversations I’ve had on previous Ask A Curator Days I have joined in halfway. This never would have happened if the museum had failed to answer the very first tweet.
- Tweet engaging content to spark conversation. Some experts will post interesting trivia or photos of their organisation’s collections using the hashtag to help inspire questions.
- Be adventurous. If you aren’t getting many questions directed at you then get onto the hashtag feed and find your own. Many participants pose questions to the community rather than to a specific museum, so answer any questions that you think you have a good/interesting answer for.
- Don’t be afraid to tweet other organisations. While the emphasis is on the public engaging with the experts, some of the best interactions I’ve seen revolve around the banter between different organisations. Strike up conversations, ask each other questions, even poke fun if you want to (respectfully, of course).
- Keep track of timezones. This is a worldwide Q&A session. Depending where you are in the world Ask A Curator Day might start before you get up in the morning, or it might continue long after you go to bed. We here in Australia will be wrapping up just as other parts of the world are kicking off, keep this in mind when you clock off at night and (if you can) keep at least one eye on the hashtag feed.
- Favourite good responses and interactions. Many organisations follow up Ask A Curator Day with blog posts and social content about their involvement. If you’d like to do this then it can be useful to favourite tweets and interactions that you plan to include in your post.
After the day
Keep the engagement going
Make it clear to your followers that while Ask A Curator Day is over, they are welcome to ask you questions whenever they want to know something about your organisation. While the level of interaction is unlikely to be anything close to what it was on the day you should still make yourself accessible to your audience.
Curate (haha) your favourite interactions
If you had a particularly great day then share it. Half the fun of Ask A Curator Day is reading the questions and answers. Your followers might be interested in seeing some of the questions you answered, or even just seeing what you think were some of the highlights of the day. You could write a blog post, share links on social media, or share some social graphics.
Below are a few of the social graphics I created a few years ago from tweets that I thought were particularly thought provoking, or even just a bit funny.
I’ll be jumping onto our Twitter account to engage with GLAM organisations all over the world. I hope to see you out there 🙂