Practical tips for event organizers

Get the best from your events: guidelines, stories, testimonials

User Profile: The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

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We asked Ryan Dodge, Social Media Coordinator at the Royal Ontario Museum, some questions about his experience of using sharypic in the museum. He provided us with a rich account of how the live PhotoWall enhanced their Friday Night Live series of events.

1 - What were you looking for when you discovered sharypic?  

After our Friday Night Live pilot series in the spring of 2012, the senior management team was looking for a way to visually engage visitors via screens throughout the museum. We had used traditional text-based twitter walls during the initial spring series but we wanted something that was visual and would encourage people to interact with it and share their experience. More specifically, we wanted a twitter wall that would display photos in real time.

2 - How do you think the PhotoWall impacts on your guests’ experience at your events? 

At first, people weren’t really sure what to do with the photo wall but after a few hours people started to see photos up on the wall from the personal twitter accounts of other visitors and from the ROM’s account. Also, the ads in that cascade through the photos explaining how it works really helped as well. As people began to realize that we were streaming their photos in real time the engagement picked up. So much so that people were taking photos of their photos on the photo wall. Some people even tweeted those photos and tagged them with #tweetception, a popular hashtag on Twitter!

People began to share photos on objects they found interesting in the galleries or the fun they were having in the Discovery Gallery and hands-on areas, trying on costumes and digging for dinosaur bones, for example. They also shared photos of their food and drinks - things they really enjoyed. There was also a lot of photos of groups of friends or couples on dates which was great to see, it let us know who was visiting and why, for a date night or just a fun time with friends. I think it was also an added value for our visitors, once they found out about the wall and how to interact with it, the engagement seemed to really pick up!

Photo by @pmisir via Twitter. 

3 - Did using sharypic affect the reach and publicity of your events?

I am not sure how to measure that but I will say that I think it had a part to play in enhancing the social media publicity of the event. This series of events was almost exclusively communicated via social media, Twitter and Facebook. After each event I posted the link to the photo wall on the facebook event page and tweeted the link to the photos on the sharypic.com website. People with huge networks also took notice and having them share a photo of the wall in action really helped spread the word both about Friday Night Live and the Sharypic PhotoWall.

4 - What do you do with all the collected photos after an event?

In addition to sharing the album via our social networks directly after an event, we are working on a few projects with the photos we collected (over 2,000!) over the 8 week Friday Night Live series. We have plans to download the best shots and create an album to embed on the ROM website and use for future promotion of the Spring 2013 series of Friday Night Live. We’re also looking at the possibility of creating themed albums from the photos, one on food, drink, experiences and maybe even ‘date night’.  

5 - What features on sharypic were the best in terms of helping you to have a great event?

The real time aggregation of both Twitter and Instagram photos was the key feature for us. Having the ability to gather, post and share those photos in real time was exactly what we were looking for. Also, the ability for the live cascading photo wall was equally important, it is great to be able to gather the photos but to be able to post a large photo wall live at the event was epic! This is territory a lot of museums have not yet ventured. The option of the two types of photo moderation was also a key component in the platform, explaining that to my bosses put a lot of minds at ease.

6 - How did your usage change during the series and did this affect the results?

The first night we had the photo wall in one of the galleries, there was limited engagement, mostly because people were hanging out in the gallery watching a jazz performance. We also had the photo wall on the screens behind the admissions desk and behind one of the bars. People noticed but it wasn’t really ‘in their faces’. The second night we put it on the biggest wall in the museum, front and center in the main area and the engagement took off! We also decided to use the photo wall to display programming information and key messages, like when the bars closed, what artists were playing where, etc. This combo of having the photo wall on the main screen and displaying key messages from the museum really ramped up the engagement and we continued this model for a few weeks.

Next we moved the photo wall to a smaller screen but front and center on the dance floor. There was slightly less engagement than when the photo wall was on the larger wall but people still shared a lot of content. I think if you want to have a lot of content shared you have to display the wall where people will see it for long enough to figure out what they are watching. People always want to ‘see their name in lights’ so once they understand how to get their content on the wall, that’s when you see high engagement. As for moderation, I didn’t really use the real time moderation fully. I trusted people wouldn’t post inappropriate content from personal twitter accounts on the wall and, ultimately, the content was being viewed by an adult audience and I knew I could always hide something if I felt it was inappropriate. We did get a few (maybe five over the whole series) spam photos but nothing serious or disturbing.

Thanks Ryan for that very insightful account! If you woul like to try sharypic in your institution, or discuss ideas for how we can work together, get in touch!