How to Score an Informational Interview: 7 Tips For the Information Age

“Picking someone’s brain” needs an update. Here's how to actually get an "informational interview" in today's world. For years it Read more

The New Trickle Down Effect: Why Nonprofits Are Innovators for Industry

The company for which I work annually invests millions of dollars to help nonprofit organizations better understand and engage Read more

The New Realities of Advertising Costs (Hint: You Are Getting Less Than You Think)

Many nonprofit organizations misunderstand the increasing costs of advertising – and it’s costing them dearly. It’s that season when organizations Read more

Facebook is Firing Nonprofits (And Why We Are Dumb to Let it Happen)

If your organization refuses to spend money on Facebook, then you aren’t firing Facebook. Facebook is firing you. And Read more

11 Strategic Tips to Cultivate Member and Donor Relationships Online

Social media is the new force empowering giving decisions. Here are 11 near-term opportunities that will help more deeply Read more

6 Strategic Reasons For Membership Teams to be Involved with Social Media

An organization’s social media initiatives are every bit as important for the membership department as they are for the Read more

examples

Information Overload: How Case Study Envy Stifles Nonprofit Success

whatever competition does

Between numerous conferences, written reports, podcasts and other resources, nonprofits should have no problem accessing an abundance of industry case studies. And smart organizations actively seek them out in order to appropriately consider precedents. However, too many nonprofits seem to distract themselves from opportunities by making inappropriate comparisons between other organizations and their own. They risk the loss of their own identity when they become too easily seduced by the (alleged) successes of others.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the nonprofit industry – one with an innate value for transparency and a culture that celebrates collaborative knowledge transfer – is so often easily misled by these “success studies.” Arguably, nonprofits are the most communicative of any business sector.  Due to a culture of sharing, organizational risk aversion, and a very mature business model, there isn’t a lot of “secret sauce” in the nonprofit space.

“So how can nonprofits be considered laggards when it comes to building effective ‘business’ strategies?! We’re in constant dialogue. We listen to one another!”

Well, maybe that’s the problem.

Having a lot of information is good. Not taking the time to develop a culture of thinking about it critically is bad. While sharing experiences certainly has undeniable advantages and can positively inform organizational strategies, I’ve noticed a detrimental trend in how nonprofit organizations discuss the operations of perceived industry leaders whom they’d like to emulate. Namely, nonprofits seem increasingly less able to differentiate between models and examples, and this confusion creates unrealistic expectations that may hinder the success of organizations.

When considering case studies and the operations of other nonprofit organizations, it may help to keep in mind the following four items:

1) Many singularly successful organizations are terrible models

IMPACTS collects intelligence concerning 224 visitor-serving organizations in the United States. Data indicate that the US public overwhelmingly considers the Monterey Bay Aquarium to be the “best aquarium in the world.” Increasingly, we hear organizations (and not just aquariums) attempting to emulate the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the hopes of similarly increasing their own reputations, securing their financial futures, maximizing audience engagement, etc.

(I am exploring the category of aquariums (again) because the aquarium industry has a clear, defined market leader. Museums, symphonies and zoos have tighter “line ups” with greater variance in public opinion concerning which is the “best.”)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful example of a world-class organization achieving enviable business and mission successes…but, as far as being easily replicated, it is a terrible model. Consider: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the dominant – and near exclusive – major attraction in a very popular coastal destination.  It is led by one of the most influential leaders in the global conservation community.  It opened its doors unburdened by debt or other financing obligations. The lists of singular superlatives associated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium could go on…but, I think that you get my point. While it is easy to identify the attributes and practices that make the Monterey Bay Aquarium an acknowledged market leader, it is very difficult to duplicate these conditions.

Do other organizations also have some of these things? You bet. Do they have all of them? No. Similarly, your organization likely has its own, unique conditions. (Monterey is the example I am using here to make a point. It is not the only organization with unique conditions and the promise or potential of a successful enterprise).

(Uh oh! I feel a bad analogy coming on…) Other organizations cannot reasonably expect to copy the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “recipe for success” because they aren’t working with the same ingredients (or, for that matter, the same kitchen and same executive chef). Organizations have their own unique ingredients (and kitchens and chefs), and they have to optimize those to best respond to their own unique opportunities.

 

2) But organizations can provide helpful examples

Continuing with my horrible “recipe for success” analogy, if you spot an admired market leader that shares some of the same ingredients as your organization, noting how they successfully utilize these ingredients may help your organization cook up an equally tasty dish. In fact, if you add on to the case study by contemplating and incorporating your own unique advantages, you may end up with something even better (for you) than your would-be model.

For instance, although Monterey Bay Aquarium is a terrible model (again, in the sense that they – like many other organizations- aren’t replicable), their ability to experiment and take on unique initiatives in creative ways provides several examples that may benefit the balance of the museum and nonprofit industry. Examples may be broad and deal with the evolution of best practices, or serve as case studies for engaging the market.

As an aside: Question case studies. Sharing case studies (especially in conference settings) is frequently a way that organizations pat themselves on their own backs, but just because a case study was shared doesn’t mean that the initiative aided in securing donations, getting people in the door, or increasing brand reputation. There are some gemstones, but there’s also a lot of hot air out there. Be wise enough to tell the difference.  (People regularly ask me what are some of the biggest differences that I observe in my work with both for-profit and nonprofit clients.  Easy!  Whereas the nonprofit case studies presented to industry colleagues are invariably sunshine-filled, self-congratulatory success stories, the vast majority of case studies that I observe being presented in the for-profit world are cautionary tales of woe, struggle, and failure.  I don’t know what to make of this dichotomy, but I think it is interesting).
 

3) If you aspire to replicate a model, you jeopardize your relevance

If a similar organization with the same brand equities that you strive to achieve already exists (i.e. if you have a true model), then your organization is probably less relevant and you may be cannibalizing the market and unnecessarily dividing the resources needed to efficiently tackle the shared social mission.

However, a “conceptual model organization” that exists in another market could be a valuable tool – provided that two conditions are met: 1) You understand how this organization (its positioning, reputation and resources) differs from yours and you create a plan for optimizing these same areas uniquely for your own equities; and 2) You understand that successful organizations evolve to meet market needs and opportunities. What was true and a “best practice” yesterday may not necessarily serve as a suitable precedent for tomorrow. Your model will change its operations over time (especially if it is a good model), and you will likely need to change yours, too. Frequently, the best things that a “conceptual model organization” can be are thought provoking and inspirational – its practices may not be transitively applicable. 
 

4) Making nonprofit best practices the basis of your business strategy is a bad strategy

Another disadvantage of the “sharing” nature of the nonprofit industry is that organizations often become more caught up with what other organizations are doing than paying any attention to their markets – which (decidedly unlike the behaviors of other nonprofits) is directly correlated to their financial and social success. (Read: It doesn’t matter at all how many other nonprofits are utilizing social media. What matters is that the market is utilizing social media as its single most influential, go-to source of information.)

Think it’s great that your nonprofit is almost at the industry average for email open rates? Congratulations on being almost mediocre. (Tough love? Maybe. But think about it: You won’t catch successful for-profit companies celebrating benchmark victories…so why do we allow ourselves to frame averageness as “achievement?”) We can do better than simply keeping up with the Vastly-Underperforming-And-Almost-Broke Joneses. It’s important to be marketing your nonprofit and creating programs for the folks that actually matter – not to keep company with peer organizations (a large portion of which may be flailing).

My advice to nonprofits with one eye on their neighbors: Take what you can from case studies as applicable, but don’t get caught up in becoming another organization.  Gosh darnit:

Be yourself oscar wilde

(Full disclosure: As the Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS, I work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium…and, for that matter, with a number of other aquariums, museums, performing arts organizations, zoos and similar visitor-serving enterprise. The reason that I reference the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a specific example is two-fold: (1) Data compellingly indicate its public perception as “best in class,” and thus a natural topic for case study; and (2) It is a frequently cited aspirational “model” suggested to me by other aquariums – as well as several other types of visitor-serving organizations – when they reference a third-party entity.)

Interested in getting blog posts, tips, and some silly social media geekery periodically delivered in your Facebook newsfeed? Like my Facebook page. Or for more regular sharing of nonprofit marketing information, follow me on Twitter!

 

Posted on by colleendilen in Big ideas, Branding, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Museums, Nonprofit Marketing, Nonprofits, Public Management, Words of Wisdom 6 Comments

30 Creative Ways Museums are Celebrating the Holidays Through Social Media

Happy holidays, everyone! This is a great time of the year for zoos, aquariums and museums online. There’s an opportunity to engage with timely, intimate content that already has a personal connection with audiences. It’s also a time to be with loved ones- and zoos, aquariums, and museums are places that people can go with the folks that they care about. There are wins all around.

We are seeing a lot of the expected annoucements online being pushed through social media: reminders that the gift shop has something for everyone on your holiday list, friendly reminders that memberships make great gifts, promotions for holiday programs, and some of those end-of-the-year requests for donations. But there has also been a lot of more creative online engagement this holiday season as well! In fact, I found that often, the museums that had taken on more creative initiatives this holiday season really went for it and took on more than one fun project (hence some repeats in this list). It’s clear that the organizations that took the time to think about engaging audiences this season really capitalized on the potential during this time of year!  Here are 31 ways that zoos, aquariums, and museums are engaging audiences online this holiday season.

Interestingly, I keep tabs on an even mix of zoos, aquariums, and museums.. but aquariums really had a lot going on this season! Getting this post via email? I suggest clicking here to see all of the great videos posted.

1) Turns out Santa takes breaks from managing elves to hang out in the fish tanks of aquariums. The photo above was shared on Facebook by the California Academy of Sciences.

2)   This year, museums have produced some downright silly, touching, and artistic holiday videos. Haven’t laughed yet today? Check out the holiday video below (complete with puppets AND the aquarium’s CEO) by the National Aquarium. My other favorites include this classy video by Museo Guggenheim Bilbao and this nice video by the South Australian Museum. I love that it has an intimate feeling about it with staff members presenting artifacts throughout the museum. Oh, and this holiday video makes me laugh from the Saint Louis Zoo, too!

3) The Smithsonian wants to know: which Santa is the scariest? My vote was for the Wild-Eyed Santa… but A Santa Hold-Up is a tad alarming.

4)   The Tennessee Aquarium highlighted a six-armed Bat Star (typically with five arms) that looks like the star of David. Simple and sweet.

5)   Can a person die of cute-overload? Presenting: San Diego Zoo’s Special Moments of 2011:

6) Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is rocking the holidays on social media– especially in regard to making santa accessible. They conducted a live chat from the museum with him the week before Christmas.

7) The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis also has spunky YouTube interviews with Santa. Spoiler: his favorite cookie? Chocolate chip.  And his favorite reindeer? Olive, obviously.

8) An important aspect of being part of a community is sharing the love and promoting other things that bring out the holiday spirit. So I need to include the Exploratorium’s cool blog post and informal interview video about Weaver’s Winter Wonderland.

9) The Contemporary Jewish Museum is using Flickr to highlight one picture for each day of Hanukkah 2011. It is simple and rather lovely.

10) Speaking of Hanukkah and the Contemporary Jewish Museum… they want to know:

11) Check out the Wreath-cycled challenge conducted by the Shedd Aquarium! Facebook fans could vote for their favorite wreath created by local K-12 classrooms made entirely out of recycled materials.

12) Okay. This one is random. The Museum of Science, Boston has created cup holders (perfect for this cold, holiday season) to promote their Pompeii exhibit. The cup holders change color when they get hot, which is cool… but there’s something about the seriousness, attempted silence, and scrappiness of this Facebook video that makes it kind of funny and rather charming.

13) How fun is this? The Shelburne Museum shows us how to print holiday cards on their 1954 Heidelberg Press:

14) Who doesn’t love Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Herbie Hippocampus? He’s in the holiday spirit and spunky as always.

15) There were LOTS of create-and-send your own holiday e-card options from zoos, aquariums, and museums this year. Some examples: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Chicago Zoological Society.

16) On a related note, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art lets you tap into high-resolution pictures available without restriction so that you can make your own holiday card. Three cheers for image accessibility and sharing!

17) Georgia Aquarium staff conducted a surprise attack holiday dance party on site:

18) They also have a Singing Holiday Grouper:

19) The Smithsonian shared mistletoe facts from one of their botanists.

20) Museums represent! The Museum of Science, Boston asked Facebook fans to vote for them as their favorite gingerbread house. You can vote for the New England Aquarium’s gingerbread house, too. Eek. Stiff competition.

21) The Tennessee Aquarium took members on an expedition to Antarctica this holiday season. That’s cool, right? It’s cooler that they are reporting back with videos from the adventure.

22) A twist on the traditional donation request, the St. Louis Zoo is sharing and promoting an Animal Wish List this holiday season.

23) Love the pictures and little story about Ollie the Otter’s First Snowman from the Aquarium of the Pacific.

24) Simple and sweet, the Art Institute of Chicago says Happy Hanukkah.

25) To celebrate the new year, the Newseum will ask online audiences to vote for the best headline written this year through Facebook.

26) The Victoria and Albert Museum showed off photos of their  stunning Christmas Tree by Studio Roso

27) The Henry Ford has a blog category for weddings and a sweet post and slide show of a “winter-wonderful” wedding.

28) The Shelburne Museum hosted a Brick House Holiday Party for museum members and captured the experience on Flickr.

29) Did you know that the Statue of Liberty has inspired a Hanukkah lamp? I know that now, thanks to the Skirball Cultural Center.  And while we’re at it, who doesn’t want a delicious latke recipe?

30) Santa visited the Shedd Aquarium’s sea otters and, of course, gave them a big disk of fish paste. Yummm…

Do you have more examples to share? Post them in the comments section to contribute to the list!

*A little reminder in holiday good spirit: If you use or reprint this post, please give proper attribution to Know Your Own Bone. Similarly, if you use this post as a significant lead for an article that you are writing yourself, please be kind and show some love.  Happy holidays!

Posted on by colleendilen in Community Engagement, Marketing, Museums, Nonprofit Marketing, Nonprofits, Public Management, Social Media, Technology 4 Comments

38 Ways Zoos and Aquariums are Engaging Audiences Through Social Technology

Shortly after writing 41 Ways Museums are Merging Social and Tech to Engage Audiences, I was approached by a couple of lovely marketing professionals at the Tennessee Aquarium asking if I’d mind sharing current social tech happenings in zoos and aquariums, specifically. Boy, is there a lot going on!

In preparation to facilitate an upcoming workshop on social technology at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Mid-Year Meeting on March 23rd, I’ve put together this list of innovative initiatives that I’ve uncovered with the help of a survey sent to AZA participants. Quite expectedly, the industry’s natural creativity, passion, and aim to inspire and educate are quite clear in zoos and aquariums in much the same way that they are apparent in other types of museums and creative learning environments. Zoos and Aquariums are playing a big part in moving the nonprofit sector forward through social media, crowd-curation, and mobile applications.

Interested in seeing- at a glance- which zoos and aquariums are using social media (or were by November 20, 2010 at least)? Check out this awesome spreadsheet created by  Anthony Brown of the San Francisco Zoo. It lists which zoos and aquariums are using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, as well as basic engagement stats.

Check out some of the classic, creative, charming, and kooky ways that zoos and aquariums are using social technology to make waves in their communities and beyond:

 

Utilizing Basic Social Media Building Blocks.

1. Twitter. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums maintains a twitter list with over 127 accredited zoos and aquariums on Twitter. But from the looks of things, there are many, many more than that. Among hundreds of others, you can follow the Oregon Zoo, the California Academy of Sciences, the Seattle Aquarium, the Fort Worth Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium

2. Facebook. 7% of all humans are on Facebook and zoos and aquariums are effectively using this space to cultivate networks, create interaction, and share information. The Tennessee Aquarium always surprises me with cool facts in my Facebook news feed.

3. Flickr. Holy cow! If there’s one social media platform in which zoos and aquariums are taking the lead, it’s on Flickr. When asked (in a survey I crafted in collaboration with AZA), many zoos and aquariums reported Flickr initiatives as their most innovative uses of social technology. My favorite straight-up use of Flickr? That’s a toughie… but the Shedd Aquarium’s Flickr group is up there.

4. YouTube. There’s so much good stuff here, too. Zoos and Aquariums are mostly using this site to help them give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the institution. I like the San Diego Zoo’s YouTube channel.

5. Website. Have you noticed that many of the biggest and most visited zoos and aquariums feature links to social media pages above the fold on their websites (even if it’s small)?

6. Interactive Pages. Many zoos and aquariums are putting their web-based social and educational resources in one place. Check out the New England Aquarium’s awesome interaction page.

7. Blogging. The Dickerson Park Zoo’s blog posts and short and sweet- and a lot of fun. Speaking of blogs, the Houston Zoo has four of them. They use fun facts and photos to share information on conservation, education and Trunk Tales, a blog covering elephant news and happenings at the zoo.

8. Mobile Applications. These ones by the Woodland Park Zoo, the Memphis Zoo, and the Dallas Zoo aim to make the visitor experience as comfortable as possible by providing basic information on the zoo and the exhibits. They even feature GPS so you can figure out how to get to your favorite animals.

9. Foursquare. Remember to check in when you visit the Sacramento Zoo. You’ll be rewarded with a free carousel ticket- and the mayor gets a free gift.

10. Virtual Conferences. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is on top of creating engaging webinars that allow zoo and aquarium professionals to connect and share stories online. Couldn’t make it to the AZA Annual Conference in Houston? No worries.

11. Podcasts. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s (for instance) podcasts share information about the aquarium as well as news and information about issues facing our oceans and our planet. It’s music to an audible learner’s ears.

But that’s not even close to the end of it. Prepare to be inspired… and learn a thing or two about sea creatures, four-legged friends, the environment, and everything in between…

 

Storytelling and Online Engagement

12.  It’s a boy! This baby gorilla was abandoned by its mother, and then had to be raised by hand and trained with a surrogate mother at the San Fransisco Zoo.  The sensitive situation meant months of no on-site press. But it was no problem for the zoo. They captured the baby gorilla’s pertinent milestones on video. Everything was filmed and edited internally, uploaded on the Zoo’s YouTube channel and then distributed to the press. It worked beautifully and the press used these video links on their own Web sites and in print. Broadcasters pointed viewers and listeners to the YouTube channel and also aired them during newscasts.

13. Talk about streaming cuteness. The Knoxville Zoo’s creative partnership with the Mozilla Foundation raised awareness of endangered species through a 24 hour live stream of two red pandas (firefoxes). Their names, Ember and Spark, were determined by online voters. I cannot lie: sometimes I open this tab on my browser and check-in throughout the day. It’s that cute. (Please don’t judge…)

14. Meet Essex Ed. Turtle Back Zoo’s resident groundhog, Essex Ed, took over the Zoo’s twitter account during the month of February, expanding his prognostication prowess beyond winter weather predictions. Look out @SUEtheTrex & @NatHistoryWhale.This furry futurist was quite charming (even if his lovable predictions weren’t always correct).

15. Turning print materials into links. The National Aquarium transcends the divide between printed materials and the web by using QR codes on printed materials that link to their YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr accounts.

16. Information share within the industry. Impactful nonprofits share their knowledge with others. That’s basically what the San Fransisco Zoo is doing in this video. One thing that I think is cool/important: the zoo doesn’t just leave twitter to the marketing department. They know that many departments should be at least a bit involved.

17. A picture’s worth a thousand words. The Monterey Bay Aquarium holds photo captions contests to engage visitors.

18. Going Meta. The Shedd Aquarium makes celebrating Flickr and Facebook fan engagement through Facebook look easy with their Fan Photo of the Week.  They encourage Facebook users to tag themselves in photos in order to vote for their favorite. It’s a genius voting system. When folks tag themselves to vote, it often shows up the newsfeed for people in their networks, spreading the initiative.

19. Live tweeting… from the ocean? The Birch Aquarium at Scripps took the middle-man out of education-based communication when they created a Twitter account specifically for whale-watching season. Their Naturalists tweet live from the boat!

20. Apes, Elephants, Pandas- oh my! The San Diego Zoo invites you to live stream their apes, elephants, pandas and polar bears! And while you’re on the site, try your hand at the Elephant Odyssey Game.

21. No photographer wants to be photo-bombed by strangers. The Aquarium of the Pacific takes Flickr photo contests to another level and uses it to bring folks in the door. They created regular Photography Nights in which photographers (and photographers-in-training) are welcome to take pictures without worrying about the general public.

22. Let’s tweetup! The Houston Zoo conducts so many of them that they have a separate Twitter account for them.

23. We advise you to visit the aquarium. Got a good rating on Trip Advisor thanks to great visitor service efforts? Flaunt it. Word of mouth marketing is thought be to the most trusted and effective form of marketing. Take a lesson from the Oregon Coast Aquarium: link to your ratings on Trip Advisor and make sure folks know how much your visitors love it.

That little owl icon in the right corner says, "People love this place!"

24. Know your assets! In this case, it’s a Great White Shark. Kind of. I dare you to take a look at this Flickr album of enthusiastic visitors to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and tell me you don’t want to take a picture with this shark.

25. Because “Fluffy’s Daughter” is a bad name for a baby python. And the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium knew it was a lame name, so they called in help from their community. Their naming contest on Facebook resulted in thousands of submissions and 1,200 original names, which were narrowed to five and placed back on Facebook for voting.  Talk about well received; more than 500 people voted in the first 20 minutes and the zoo significantly boosted their “likes” on Facebook! (Spoiler: The name “Hanna” won with 816 votes)

26. The good ole’ ‘Fun Fact’ route never goes out of style. Rosamond Gifford Zoo tweets healthy doses of “Today’s Wild Wisdom,” by popular demand from their online community. A little bit (more) proof that social media works best when educational or exciting information is shared… and not just used as an announcement board for holiday closures.

On the West Coast? Not a problem for the Columbus Zoo.

27. Calling all ‘Mommy Group Organizers!’ Using the social tool Meetup.com, the San Diego Zoo makes it easy to set up playdates at the zoo.

28. Are you on Jumo? The Palm Beach Zoo has a page. No pressure.

29. Cell phone audio guides are a classic. At the Florida Aquarium, kids can listen to birds, fish, alligators, and otters through a cell phone audio guide.

30. State lines are for dummies. The Columbus Zoo offers special distance learning classes to K-12 kids across the country. The program “brings the zoo to you” using standard audio/video teleconferencing equipment.

 

Fundraising, Working the Market, and Strategic Uses of Social Media

31. Mobile devices= tools for donations. The Cameron Park Zoo launched a mobile giving campaign, which allows guests to donate $5 or $10 via text message. .

32. Making fundraising social with new tools. The Museum of Science in Boston uses Fundrazr, a social fundraising tool, to raise funds. In fact, the museum has raised over $2500 for the renovation of the Charles Hayden Planetarium exclusively through its network of online followers.

33. Meet the parents. The Knoxville Zoo knows who makes up a big part of their market- and they utilize a local online social resource called knoxmoms.com to connect with parents in the area.

34. Zoos vs. Aquariums: Who does it better? The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is already rocking the contests tab on their Facebook page to engage audiences- but one of their greatest contests featured a friendly race that pitted them against the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, IA. The race was to see which one–Aquarium or Zoo–could promote their page in order to get the most new likes/fans for their respective Facebook page by the end of the contest on October 31, 2010.  It was close, but in the end, the aquarium lost and had to do a full day of “dirty jobs” for the zoo.  But both organizations were winners in the end because of the increase in fans resulting from the competition.  The Aquarium increased it’s Facebook fan base by 283%!

In the spirit of sportsmanship, zoo employees also agreed to do some "dirty work" for the other team. On Facebook, this photo is titled, "Zoo marketing guy tries working at the National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium."

35. A collaboration to strengthen community. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo partnered with the Division 1 college hockey team in town, the Tigers, to promote both partners’ community-strengthening missions. They agreed to publicize for one another through their social media channels. In exchange, the Tigers promoted the zoo by showing video footage of the zoo’s tigers during period breaks, on the concourse, and on TV big screens at games. The zoo and the hockey team also conducted a successful meet-and-greet with players at the zoo, all the while shouting out to one another and publicizing these events through social media.

36. Make it easier for fans to give. In celebration of National Adoption Day, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo did a two-day promotion in which they significantly discounted their Adopt-an-Animal program. They created a custom package that was smaller than a traditional package (and therefore less expensive for us to produce). The result? An easy way to make an additional $350 for the program while getting the word out and giving their online community a sense of special perks.

37. Don’t forget gift shop sales! Folks at  Clyde Peelings Reptiland say that Facebook is their favorite way to  promote new items in their gift shop.

38. Tapping social technology for active feedback. The first step in evolving in order to best need visitor needs is to know what those needs are. By listening to audiences on social media, organizations can learn a lot about those needs- but the Brevard Zoo is taking an even more direct approach. They created research site that asks visitors how the museum can improve. The site allows them to get active feedback, create focus groups, and engage in private forums.

The Brevard Zoo wants your opinion.

Do you know of any zoos and aquariums utilizing social technology to engage audiences in ways that aren’t mentioned here? Share them in the comments section and add them to the list!

*Big credits to ourfunnyplanet.com for the top two photos.

Posted on by colleendilen in Community Engagement, Marketing, Museums, Nonprofit Marketing, Nonprofits, Social Media, Technology, The Future 5 Comments