Facebook for museums – best practice

Facebook is the biggest social media channel on the planet, with the most active users by far (over 2 billion, followed by Instagram with 800 million). Started as a college network in the mid-2000s, Facebook quickly grew into the behemoth we know today and is used by most people, at least to a degree.

At its simplest, Facebook is a vast noticeboard for a range of content (served to you via the algorithm) from whoever you decide to follow, be that family, friends, businesses and brands. The latter, including organisations, celebrities, media companies, etc. all have a presence on Facebook in the form of “Pages”.

Jump to:

How it works | Typical user audience and behaviour | How to access/use it | Get started | Top tips | Examples | Other support links

Example of a museum’s Facebook Page viewed on desktop.

How it works

Your timeline on Facebook shows a mix of content from a range of people you follow, and Facebook decides on what to show you using a complex algorithm. In theory, Facebook pushes content at you that the algorithm thinks you want to see most (and the way you interact with that content in turn affects the algorithm).

Anything you see on Facebook can be interacted with: you can share the content with your followers, you can “like” it, and you can comment on each post.

Highly customisable privacy settings mean some people’s profiles and activities can be seen by anyone, whilst others are virtually invisible on the platform.

Typical user audience and behaviours

  • Number of users: 2.1 billion worldwide
  • Largest usage base: 25-34 year olds (30%)
  • Fairly even split between male and female users
  • Highest market share of social networks in the UK

Facebook tends to be a much more personal (as opposed to professional) channel for its users and has recently been making people’s timelines more friend and family focussed, meaning content from brands and organisations is harder to get in front of audiences organically [through unpaid distribution].

An example of a museum’s post on Facebook and how Facebook evaluates its performance. (https://www.facebook.com/VADundee/posts/1572996062755840)

How to access/use it

A Page, the Facebook storefront of your museum, can contain text posts, images, videos, events, links and more, which can all be interacted with and shared individually by your audience. A museum wanting a presence on Facebook would create a page, including all their relevant information (who are you, where are you, opening hours, admission prices, and so on).

Facebook’s algorithm means that without boosting your posts [paying money to have them pushed to more people], only about 10% of your followers organically see your content. This means that museums with smaller followings need to work hard on growing that, probably through paid advertising, or at least by spending money on their posts.

Museums with large followings will still reach a lot of people, even if it’s only a small percentage of their audience. Unless your museum is on Facebook already, starting from scratch can be a challenge; it may need at least some financial investment to make having a presence there worthwhile. The good news is that boosting content on Facebook is much more affordable than regular advertising.

Get started

Make sure your Page information is correct and up to date and that you use good, clear images for your profile header and main profile picture. Most museums use their logo or a photo of their building, but it’s up to you. It should be clear, recognisable and distinctive.

Look into your audience (either actual or desired) and research best times to post or who to target. When starting out, it may be best to put a little bit of money into boosting your visibility (this can be targeted to certain demographics). Before you do this, it’s a good idea to make sure you have engaging and relevant content already on your page for people to see when they visit. And keep up a steady flow of posts on your page with engaging content. The more shareable the better; you want people to see your page and feel the need to follow you because you’re offering something no one else is.

Top tips

Paying for posts

The beauty of social media used to be that it was free. With Facebook’s new algorithm, content from brands and organisations needs to work harder to be seen by their followers and putting money behind the posts is an easy way to do that. But that doesn’t mean every post needs to be monetised: if a post you’ve done seems popular, try adding £10 to it to see what happens. Sometimes even a small amount can make a post fly!

If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic, Facebook lets you boost your posts to a targeted group of people. So if you want 16-21 year olds who have an interest in ballet and design to see a particular post, adding £10-£20 to it and selecting that audience will highly increase your chances of the right people seeing your post at the right time.

Experiment

Alternatively, if a post isn’t reaching many people, have a think why that might be. Is the image a little dull? Is the text too long? How can you make it more eye catching?

Analytics

Facebook offers free stats, called “Insights”, both on desktop and the app (the former is more powerful). Using this feature, you can interrogate your promotions, followers, likes, post reach, page views, events, videos and more. You can look at these in a multifaceted way across different date ranges to get a better understanding of how your content is performing and in what ways. This will help inform your approach going forward.

Find out more on Facebook’s help section

Examples

Wellcome Collection

Museum of Broken Relationships

V&A Dundee

Auckland Museum

Hammer Museum

Other support links

Facebook Pages help

Social media image size cheat sheet