Mused for iPhone


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When people arrive to specific locations, such as your museum, many often pull out their smartphones and use a social check-in application to let their friends know where they are. Before you dismiss this as purely a silly teenage activity, I must insist that it has become quite a sensation for people of all ages. Many of the applications offer people additionally functionality with their checkin, such as sharing photos of their experience, or seeing deals that are nearby.

Some businesses even pay the check-in services to offer a deal or coupon to people when they check in. For example, a restaurant chain named Chili’s gives away free chips and salsa to people who check in on the Foursquare service with their phones when they arrive and show the waiter the check-in screen. The value for Chili’s is that people are essentially announcing their presence at one of their locations to all of their friends… it’s indirect advertising, and it costs nothing to participate.

If you are a popular museum in a relatively popular area, it is very likely that someone has already submitted your museum to these check-in services. If so, you should login and claim the listings and be sure the information in your listing is up to date. Otherwise, you should create accounts on each of the check-in services and submit your museum. It will provide additional exposure and bring new people in.

As with the other services mentioned, you should login at a regular interval (every 3 months?) and ensure that your information is correct. Put it on your reoccurring tasks list. The last thing you want is a potential new visitor going to the wrong location and becoming annoyed and avoiding your museum altogether. Doing this is simply an extended form of good customer service and shows that you care about your online customers.

Social check-in services that you should have a presence on:

1) Foursquare
2) Gowalla
3) Facebook Places
4) Google Places

How to claim and update your listings:

Foursquare: Visit the Claiming your business on Foursquare page.
Gowalla: You can not currently submit or claim your museum. They are working to fix this.
Facebook Places: Go to the Facebook help page on Claiming Places and follow the directions provided.
Google Places: Visit the Add Google Place page.

Remember, these services are not the same as social networks. They are often a subset or related to social networks, and they offer the ability to connect with other people. Just know that they are different than social networks, which were described in a previous article called Create Social Network Accounts. You need to be sure that you’re set up on these check-in services as well as the social networks. Making an account on Facebook does not automatically make a listing in Facebook Places. You are responsible for taking charge of your museum’s accounts and listings.

People like to show off where they are. If you’re not on these social check-in services, you will miss out on the free advertising you would get when people tell their friends "I’m at the ____ museum." And that is a missed opportunity.

This article is part of a series titled Improving Your Museum’s Marketing Efforts. To learn more about the series and to read the other articles, visit the series introduction article.


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It is simply fantastic to see more museums using QR codes to label their exhibits so that visitors can get more information with ease. This is precisely why we built in QR scanning support into Mused (but with a twist, allowing museums who do not yet have a QR code program to make and track QR codes with ease using the Mused Curator Portal).

What will be interesting is seeing whether or not QR codes have the staying power necessary to bring them to critical mass. In some ways, it’s still yet an experiment.


UK’s National Archives now working with Wikipedia UK in the GLAMwiki (galleries, libraries, archives museums) project -


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Just goes to show that most museums aren’t able to tap into the same deep funding opportunities as the big ones. I feel for the small struggling museums that are at risk of closing the doors. I’m still learning about museum funding, but I’m wildly interested in the topic.

[The majority of arts funding supports large organizations with budgets greater than $5 million. Such organizations, which comprise less than 2 percent of the universe of arts and cultural nonprofits, receive more than half of the sector’s total revenue. These institutions focus primarily on Western European art forms, and their programs serve audiences that are predominantly white and upper income. Only 10 percent of grant dollars made with a primary or secondary purpose of supporting the arts explicitly benefit underserved communities, including lower-income populations, communities of color and other disadvantaged groups. And less than 4 percent focus on advancing social justice goals. These facts suggest that most arts philanthropy is not engaged in addressing inequities that trouble our communities, and is not meeting the needs of our most marginalized populations.

Troubling findings in the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s new report, “Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy”, which was released Monday. (via iteeth)

(via )


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One of the driving forces behind creating Mused was to help museums connect with a new market of individuals who will visit and consider donating. The down economy took a significant pleasure of pulling funding from museums because it affected how individuals and governments were both able to contribute. So, we’re trying to make it fun to visit museums, especially for people who might have found them to be a little boring. It’s a different segment, but it’s one that will help museums.

And not that it’s all about the museums… the public needs to benefit too. Everything I’ve seen over the last 3 years in the museum-space is that museums have been working around the clock to become more innovative, more connected, more relevant, and more fun. And ultimately, that benefits everyone.

So while museumuse delivers bad news at the moment, I hope that we can make a significant impact in helping to connect people with museums and help to foster a new set of relationships so that museums remain a staple in the cultures of the world.

The museums win, the public wins. Everyone wins. Have you visited a museum lately?


Bad news at the moment, but a hopeful outlook for the future. While donors are giving less money now, there are more of them. If the economy picks up in the future, this hopefully means we will see an increased amount of donations from an increased number of donors. 


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Social networking is, generically speaking, a way for people to communicate with others on the Internet. Several large services, namely Facebook and Twitter, allow people to share bits of news and updates to each other in realtime. Social networking has been ‘all the rave' over the last 5 years or so and many companies have taken advantage of the marketing opportunities these sites provide.

By having a presence on the popular social networking services, you provide an opportunity to have a conversation with your patrons. You can stay in their minds as you provide daily or weekly updates, such as announcing a new exhibit or highlighting a favorite visitor. In return you can begin to generate some buzz about your museumwhen people share (or reshare) information about it. You will also be able to peek into the minds of your customers as they tell their friends (and the world!) how they felt about their experience when they visited your museum.

Just like having a website, having a presence on social networking sites is very necessary. Setting up your presence on these services is much easier than setting up a website of your own (though it should not replace it) and there are many guides on the net that will help you setup accounts.

Social networking services that you should have a presence on:

1) Facebook
2) Twitter
3) Google+

How to Create Your Accounts/Pages

Facebook: Visit the Create a Page website.
Twitter: Visit Twitter’s website and fill out the Sign Up form.
Google+: Visit Google’s Google+ website and create a Google account.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these services, and struggle to create these accounts and pages, I will have more in-depth information in the future about how to do this step-by-step. In the meantime, please feel free to ask me a question by clicking the Have a Question? link on the right side of this website.

This article is part of a series titled Improving Your Museum’s Marketing Efforts. To learn more about the series and to read the other articles, visit the series introduction article.


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“It’s going to be hard for museums to be plastering their objects and displays with QR codes at the same time as attempting to restrict the use of the only device that can make sense of a QR code (a digital camera).

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“I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.
Stephen Wright

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As a consumer, you either love Yelp or you hate it. As a business (profit focused or not), you need Yelp. For those of you not yet familiar with it, Yelp is an online website for consumers to write reviews about businesses. It’s not the only game in town for helping consumers share ratings and reviews of businesses on the Internet, but it’s definitely the major player. Businesses or consumers can submit new locations into their database so that others can read reviews about it. There are even people using their mobile app who will review your museum immediately after their visit.

Submitting your museum into their database is free. They do offer premium services that give you more tools, such as the ability to reply back to people who submit reviews for your museum, as well as the ability to list your museum on competitor’s Yelp pages. Depending on your budget this might be something valuable to you. Some businesses find that Yelp forces them to subscribe and makes them feel like they need to undercut their competition, and thus is a bit forceful. I’m not here to promote Yelp’s premium services or not, so you make that decision.

But at a minimum, you need to be sure your museum is listed for free on Yelp, and if it is, you should make sure the information they have is up to date. If your listing is not up to date or it is missing information, you need to claim your listing and then submit the correct information. Check your listing on a regular basis (perhaps every 3 months).

The real value here is that you can make it fun for users to discover your museum by reading the ratings and reviews from other people who have visited. While negative reviews are obviously a possibility, you can use these as an opportunity to improve your offering even further. If visitors are complaining about poor customer service or lack of new exhibits, at least you will be able to consider addressing it. Don’t be shy. Negative reviews will occur on anyone’s Yelp business listing. Just focus on making positive experiences for your visitors and you’ll begin to see shining 4 and 5 star reviews on Yelp.

If you decide not to spend a few minutes to list your museum on Yelp you will certainly miss out on some new foot traffic. If you think by not creating a listing you are avoiding negative reviews, think again. A consumer can submit your museum to Yelp at any time, and it’s possible they were going to leave a negative review. It might be a good idea to get listed first, so that you can encourage your visitors to leave a positive review. This will give you a nice head start.

Create or Update Your Yelp Listing Now

This will take you less than 5 minutes to complete. So why don’t you jump on it now?

To get started, go to Yelp’s Add Your Business website. You will be walked through 3 steps to either create a new business listing, or claim an existing one (in case someone already added you in).

This article is part of a series titled Improving Your Museum’s Marketing Efforts. To learn more about the series and to read the other articles, visit the series introduction article.


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I’m quite jealous that Lori Phillips recently hosted Jimmy Wales, of Wikipedia, at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It really sounded like a lot of fun. This is one example of how museums are embracing and collaborating with companies (such as Wikimedia) in order to benefit the public. Additionally, Lori’s post makes it clear that museums like hers are continuing their embrace of technology and the web. She also happens to be the new in-house “Wikipedian" at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, a first for any museum.


This morning I had the pleasure of hosting Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

This came about because my boss bet that I could magically convince Jimmy to stop by the museum while he was in Indianapolis for another conference. I had to prove her right!…

Read more about it at Lori’s article.


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It may seem obvious to many of you, but after reviewing thousands of museums there are still a considerable number of museums that have very few ways to contact them. I have been so shocked that so many museums do not have basic ways to get ahold of them that I felt it was necessary to make this brief article.

Consumers want choice. Give them many ways to contact you. It will require some effort, but it is a worthwhile effort. Nothing upsets a person more than not being able to reach another human being when they have questions or concerns. Being contactable is an important piece of having good customer service. Do not overlook this!

At a minimum, your museum needs to have:

» a phone number
» an email address
» a physical mailing address 

Chances are high that you already have those things. But really, that’s not enough. You should also be contactable via some additional ways:

» a website contact form
» a fax number
» an account on Twitter
» a page or account on Facebook

I know the facsimile has been a dying technology in the USA and UK for a long time now, but it’s still used in so many parts of the world. And really, there’s no excuse not to have one. If you don’t want a dedicated fax device and phone line you can pick up an Internet based fax service that emails you any faxes you receive as image attachments, such as eFax, MyFax, or my favorite, HelloFax. Some of these services even let you receive faxes for free, not requiring a paid subscription.

Setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts are generally pretty straightforward, although I’m sure it can be challenging for people who are unfamiliar with these services. Create an account and then spend some time reading their introductory material. Both of these social networks are free and will not cost you anything but your time.

Getting setup is the easy part. The challenge then becomes how you manage your contact points. This may be obvious to many of you (and I’m sorry for sounding redundant), but you will want to:

» answer the phone when people call
» write back to people who fax or email
» visit Facebook and Twitter on a regular (daily/weekly) basis to answer any customer questions
» write back to people who send you inquiries in the mail

Museums that really care about customer service and treating their visitors with respect are already doing these things. There are thousands of examples of museums doing all of these things. Just look at their websites. If you’re not doing each one of these things yet, that’s OK, I’m not here to shame you. But get on the bandwagon and do it now.

This article is part of a series titled Improving Your Museum’s Marketing Efforts. To learn more about the series and to read the other articles, visit the series introduction article.