The Top 5 Reasons to Follow a Museum Mascot on Social Media

February 27, 2012

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So, I’m back from my wee trip to Edinburgh and I had an absolutely amazing time. Besides catching up on lots of baby-free shopping, eating out and going to the cinema, I finally managed to visit the Museum of Fire, one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems, see the excellent Fascinating Mummies special exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland and, of course, attend the RBS Lates: Night of the Mummy event, the main reason for my visit. But while I sort out my notes and download my photos, I will hand over once more to a guest blogger. To round off Owney the Dog’s series on his Museum Mascot pals last week, the lovely Erin – Owney’s handler, if I may call her that – from the National Postal Museum will sum up her top reasons for following a museum mascot. Big thanks again to Owney and Erin for looking after my blog in my absence.


The Top 5 Reasons to Follow a Museum Mascot on Social Media

By Erin Blasco, public programs and social media at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

As the voice behind a museum mascot on Twitter and Facebook, I try to find the best ways to connect key audiences with museum resources to meet their needs and suit their interests – I just happen to do it in the voice of a dead dog. One of my goals with Owney the dog’s social media accounts is to engage lovers of dogs (and other cute things) with postal history and philately by making that process fun and interactive. In a recent survey, 92% of his Twitter followers said that as a result of following him, they “learned something new.” Of his Facebook fans, 86% concur.

I can’t help but agree with Owney’s constituents – I’ve learned a lot from following mummies, mammoths, and rubber space chickens on social media. Below are my top five reasons why mascots are worthwhile to follow. I don’t try to convince fellow museum practitioners to put their statues, taxidermy beasts, and founders on Twitter – quite honestly, it’s a lot of work and isn’t the perfect fit for every institution. But why not follow and chat with a mascot and see how it goes? Here are my five reasons why and I’d love to hear yours!

  1. They’re fun. It’s like hearing from a knowledgeable, witty friend who just happens to be extinct and living in an educational institution. You might learn something from them but will probably be too busy laughing to notice.
  2. They’re responsive. Got a question? Whether it’s homework, a hobby, a museum visit, or a trivia game that’s inspired your curiosity, they’re happy to emerge from the sarcophagus or museum case to share what they know. (And how many people at trivia night have a curator in their pocket?)
  3. They’re a fun way to take the museum with you. Sure, some museums have fancy apps for on-the-go browsing but many don’t. And they’re not going to let you borrow the dinosaur bones to look at later. Following mascots means being up-to-date on new exhibits, discoveries, and programs. If you love your local museum but don’t get to visit as often as you like or you discovered a great historic site on faraway travels, take the museum with you.
  4. Look smart. On Facebook and Twitter, it’s pretty easy to see who your friends follow. In addition to following celebrities and news outlets, impress your contacts by flaunting your friendship with a T-rex or blobfish.
  5. Flaunt your support. Making donations and volunteering aren’t the only ways to help your favorite museum achieve their mission in the community. Amplifying the museum’s message can have a powerful impact that might inspire all kinds of good.
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In case you missed Owney the Dog’s series about Museum Mascots, here are the links to all three parts:

Part 1 – Three marvelous mummies
Part 2 – A seafaring dog and a sabertooth cat; A tavernkeeper and a miner
Part 3 – Large beasts, short tweets

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3 Responses to “The Top 5 Reasons to Follow a Museum Mascot on Social Media”

  1. Jacque Nodell Says:

    I remember last year tweeting to Owney and receiving a response! It was a little thrill and now I know who to thank! :)

    Reply

    • jennifuchs Says:

      Owney is the best! We’re planning a family trip over to DC next Spring and we’re going to go and see Owney – both the exhibit, and Erin ;-) (though she has moved on to another museum now and is no longer his ‘handler’).

      Reply

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