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Andy Warhol Museum gives fans their moment

by ABBY MATHEIU Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on February 15, 2014 10:50 AM

PITTSBURGH — When hip-hop artist Jay-Z came through Pittsburgh last month, he took the time to check out the North Side’s Andy Warhol Museum and kicked back on a red-velvet couch similar to one the pop-art creator once owned.

After being posted to Instagram, the photo went viral. More than 7,600 people “liked” it and Endia Howze, a singer in Minneapolis, chimed in with: “Get ur feet off the couch lol.”

In this Internet age of instant access and global reach, the Warhol Museum engages with not only customers in its building, but fans of the artist from around the world through social media, museum administrators say.

Andy Warhol is a figure known worldwide, so the museum’s social-media accounts engage viewers living anywhere from New York City to Hong Kong, says Emily Meyer, the museum’s assistant communications manager. ”It’s an extension of who we are as a brand in engaging people and making them feel like this is their community, too,” Meyer says.

Social media can be important for any museum, says Andrew Rinaldi, an independent social-media consultant. Social media “is a great place for feedback and ownership,” Rinaldi says.

“A visitor to a museum will engage and support a museum more if they feel like they had a part in providing feedback or have ownership in something because the feedback they gave was implemented.”

The Warhol signed up for Facebook in December 2008. During the first couple of years, the Warhol’s presence on Facebook was lacking, officials say. The museum had a substantial amount of “likes” simply because of the name, but the administrators at the time were doing little aside from posting event information every couple of weeks.

When Joshua Jeffery, the museum’s manager of digital engagement, began working at the Warhol in March 2010, he was enthusiastic about engaging with the already present community on the museum’s Facebook page and wanted to create a following on Twitter with @TheWarholMuseum.

“It was not a marketing thing,” Jeffery says. “My whole strategy was just understanding how people interact with the collection through digital means.”

Jeffery got the creativity rolling on these sites, and in August 2011, he gained some help in organization and strategy when Meyer joined the museum. Now, the two work to keep up with the museum’s 613,619 followers on Twitter and the 63,072 likes on Facebook.

Aside from Facebook and Twitter, the museum has a presence on Google+. “It’s new, and we’re just trying to figure out the worth of it and how it works for us and what we are trying to do,” Meyer says.

The two help each other to edit posts to ensure the Warhol brand is portrayed in a consistent and effective way. Meyer can see their posts from a marketing and public relations standpoint, while Jeffery can check in to make sure everything is still genuine, creative and conversational. The most important thing to them is keeping the voice of the Warhol consistent on every outlet.

“It helps that I’m in a marketing-PR sort of standpoint,” Meyer says. “Part of my job is to protect that brand and make sure it is consistent.” The Warhol uses #WarholQuote to tweet out memorable quotes from Warhol and #SoundSeries to promote monthly sound series events. Using these hashtags, the museum sees a great deal of feedback, Jeffery says.

Additionally, the museum encourages social-media engagement by setting up several iPads that link back to these sites for guests to use during their visit.

The museum offers an app for smartphones called “D.I.Y. Pop” that allows users to create a silkscreen-style image, just like Warhol, and then post it to social media, tagging the museum.

“The brand takes its cues from Warhol, and what is more ‘Warholian’ than social media?” Jeffery says. “Everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame.”


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