TikTok for Museums : Tips and tricks

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As part of a long-term mission with a client (as all of my clients, it is a museum), I started using TikTok a few months ago. I have been using it for some time now. After I made some mistakes, had some successes and learned from these cases, I can share my experience with you. Do you need to go on TikTok? How to start creating content? What you should and shouldn’t do? Let me share my experience with you.

My TikTok Experience

I was managing a digital engagement project for a museum. There was a mini-site where participants could share their content with us. The objective was to foster user generated content. We had some participations coming in but nothing from a young audience. We thus decided to go on TikTok to reach that particular audience. I contacted the France app team directly and they agreed to organize a challenge based on our project’s concept: #FoodWeHate. Everything was free. The only cost we had was the fees of the influencers we contacted to promote the challenge — we contacted a few to create a momentum. We were on the “Discover” page of the app for a week during which the hashtag was used 251k times and the challenge viewed more than 85M times. That was in February. A couple of months later, the TikTok team contacted me to organized a live event with the museum. We did one in June, giving insights into our temporary exhibition. This made us gain more than 5k followers on the app.

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#FoodWeHate challenge on TikTok

Why Using TikTok?

On TikTok, you can share educational content with a young audience!

First, you need to ask yourself: do you need to go on TikTok? We are often working in small teams in museums and managing the existing social media platforms is already a lot of work for the people in charge (sometimes one person or a percentage of someone’s job description). Consequently, it can seem to be just more work added to the long list of things to do in one day. It clearly depends on your museum or your mission/project but remember that more the 40% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.

Moreover, TikTok wants to develop their educational content (#tiktokacademie,#LearnOnTikTok). They organize challenges and promote contents that are educational. This means that your museum might have its rightful place on the app. Do you have educational content to share? Can your audience learn something from you? It can be anything! Give practical advices, share your experience, share tips and tricks…

Once again, it depends on your situation and context but TikTok can be a great way to reach an audience that is not as present on other social media platforms. Plus you can use it to share educational content in a funny, original way! Let’s see what content works on the app.

What Type of Content to Publish?

On TikTok, share dynamic, lively content in the form of short videos that convey one idea at a time.

What is TikTok content that works? Do you need to develop special content for the app? Can you use a content that you already have in your catalog? Once again, it really depends on your museum. In my case, after the challenge and the live event, we decided to continue publishing on the app to keep the relationship with our audience. And we decided to develop special content to adapt to TikTok’s dynamic style. We wanted to create videos that would resonate with what is being created on the app and with the audience that is present there. While being sometimes really successful, this method is time-consuming and the content can bea flop. Building a community on any social media app takes times. You can use content that you already have and adapt it for TikTok. You just need to follow a few rules:

  • A video needs to be no more than 60 seconds. You have videos that are 5 minutes long or more? You have a series of images that tell a story? Create short videos with it that will have a impact in just a few seconds.
  • Your video should impact the viewer in 3 seconds. After, the viewer might zap. Think about what the viewer sees first.

Now that you know what rules your content needs to follow to pop on the app, let me share with you what I have learned during these past few months.

Tips and Tricks to Create Great TikTok Content

Being mindful of time and resources which, in the museum world, are always tricky, there are a few things you can do to make your TikTok content pop right away.

  • Use trending sounds. On TikTok, you can see which sounds are trending in your country. Use them to create your content.
  • Use trending effects. Same as for the sounds, using trending effects will help with TikTok algorithm.
  • Use the text tool. Write text on your videos. It will help the viewer get your message right away.
  • Participate in challenges on the discover page. It will help you get noticed and you will have fun doing so!
  • When something works, use it again. If you have one video that gets noticed, gets more views and likes than the others, re-use the concept (but make minor changes to it so it’s not the same!).

You’ve understood: follow the trends of the TikTok community and your content will get noticed quicker! But remember: make it your own, make it educational and convey your message. There is not only one way to do it. Experiment and find your voice! Museum content can be dynamic and fun while still being great museum content! Let me share with you some inspirations.

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Examples of inspiring museum accounts

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, @carnegiemnh — This account is a great reference. The team successfully built a community with their funny videos showing Tim Pearce, the head of the Section of Mollusks, telling snail jokes. They grab the attention of the viewer who can then browse their profile full of educational videos about biology and nature. The whole team participates.

Uffizi Gallery, @uffizigalleries — The team creates great content using what is trending on the app. The content is not educational per se, but it is funny, engaging, and give original insights into the collection. Great inspiration!

Prado Museum, @museodelprado — The museum publishes great content giving access to behind-the-scenes, curators presenting the collection, guided tours of the galleries, performance in the museum, etc.

Now you know everything that you need to know to create great TikTok content for your museum. You just have to start! So, will you go on TikTok?

Written by

Digital Engagement Consultant helping cultural institutions meeting their communities online and developing innovative digital projects.

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