How social media enlivens The Field Museum

An IRCE 2013 nonprofit speaker gives tips about crafting a social media plan.

Thad Rueter

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago may operate as a nonprofit, but it still strives to use sophisticated social media tactics to reach science fans, tourists and other consumers, says Jane Hanna, the organization’s social media strategist.

She will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in a session entitled “Finding a social media strategy that works for you.” The session is part of the conference’s inaugural nonprofit workshop on June 4. During the daylong affair, nonprofit executives will talk about how they thrive online, building enthusiasm for their organizations and causes, in some cases selling products, and in most cases attracting donors, even when resources may be more limited than is the case for e-retailers.

Hanna will be joined in the session by Carie Lewis, director of emerging media, Humane Society of the U.S.,  and David Oksman, head of marketing, for The Life is good Co.

Social media helps The Field Museum expand past its physical boundaries, Hanna says. “With over 25 million specimens in our collection—less than 1% of which are on display at any given time—we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to content,” she says. “Social channels have allowed us to enhance and extend the experience of a museum visit, and tell stories which exceed the capacity of a physical exhibition.”

During her session, Hanna will talk about how the museum reaches a variety of audiences though such tactics as social media posts that detail behind-the-scenes workings at the natural history hotspot, and how social media helps the organization build long-term relationships with supporters and even stimulates the scientific discovery process. She also will talk about social check-in service Foursquare’s new ranking system and how helps cultural institutions compete for tourist dollars. “It's a powerful and often overlooked tool for reaching out-of-towners who are just visiting, and one that we'll be ramping up our engagement with in 2013,” she says.

Some of the lessons the museum has learned about social media certainly apply to e-retail. “Social messages can certainly motivate action and boost attendance, but it's important to remember that social media interaction with your audience takes place in digital space,” Hana says. “Grab their attention in such a way that demands sharing, commenting, and other e-actions on the spot. Start by getting them to move their thumbs and index fingers before you try to get their butts out of their seats.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Hanna to speak because of her experience in arts marketing, publishing and new media, a background that informs her current work in creating social media buzz. She manages and monitors a broad portfolio of social media applications for The Field Museum, which is active on such social networks as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter and Foursquare.  



foursquare, IRCE 2013, Jane Hanna, m-commerce, mobile commerce, natural history, nonprofits, social marketing, social media, The Field Museum, web advertising