Museums and Social Media: a SWOT analysis

I have been thinking about museums and social media a lot lately, so I did a bit of brainstorming. Here are the things I came up with.


  • Museums are purpose built for sharing information.
  • Museums are highly visual by nature.
  • Museums reflect the community and its values.
  • Museums have a well-established place in society.


  • There is a tradition of museums presenting themselves as ‘expert-knowers’, rather than being collaborative or interactive.
  • There may be some limits to sharing images e.g. ethical issues and copyright.
  • Museums often have a limited number of staff and tight budgets.
  • Many smaller museums are only known within the cities where they are located, which may make it difficult to compete with large internationally-recognised institutions.

Geo-Cosmos by Yoshikazu Takada
Flickr CC BY 2.0


  • Social media allows for increased participation and interactivity by audiences.
  • New audiences, who may not be aware of the museum, can be reached online.
  • Development of VR and AR will enable museum visitors to access collections, crossing geographical or physical boundaries.
  • Social media helps museums reach a new age group and a new audience.
  • Social media enables museums to share information in new ways, e.g. behind the scenes, live chat with curators or historians, games and virtual tours.
  • Social media meets audiences where they are, and engages them.
  • Social media allows for greater connections with other institutions.
  • Social media may provide increased feedback from visitors about exhibits and facilities.


  • Museums are vulnerable to funding cuts by governments, reducing staff hours.
  • Social media may isolate some audience members who do not have access to technology.
  • Many industries are competing for the public’s leisure time, including on social media.
  • There is a potential for loss of foot traffic (due to increased online access), which may affect a museum’s income.
  • Social media may result in a more competitive market within the industry as museums compete for the attention of a global audience, rather than just their local community.
  • The fast development of new technologies can be expensive and take time to update.
  • Potential for reputation damage if a post is perceived negatively by the public.
  • Negative feedback online is visible to all visitors.

Got anything to add?
Please let me know!


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