Top 5 Museum Marketing Trends for 2024

Top 5 Museum Marketing Trends for 2024
Photo by Viktor Forgacs / Unsplash

The museum world is constantly evolving. Like any industry, certain trends emerge and fade with time. While it's tempting to jump on the latest bandwagon, the key to long-term success lies in staying true to your museum's identity and mission. In this blog post, we'll explore the top museum trends for 2024, offering a guide on how to integrate them strategically while preserving your unique brand voice.

Trends can be fickle, much like those bell-bottom jeans that somehow make a comeback every few decades. Yet, some trends transcend time, becoming enduring staples – think of the timeless elegance of a little black dress or a classic Hermes tie. 

The world's most iconic museums, like the Louvre, the Met, and other top 10 most visited museums, understand this balance.  They've achieved their status by consistently showcasing their strengths, not just chasing fleeting fads

As Elizabeth Merritt observes in her Trends Watch report, the overarching theme for 2024 is "volatility" – how does your museum adapt while staying true to its core?

With every recommendation ask yourself: will this help me get more visitors in the door, boost membership enrollments, and increase my donations? Check out our trends checklist if you want a tool to help you assess the right opportunities for your Museum.   

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#1 Turn Visitors into Active Participants with Interactive Storytelling

There are several tools you can use to shift visits from an observer state into a two-way conversation. 

  • Create custom landing pages to tell an in-depth story about an exhibit, create story corners, and have media hubs set up where guests can add their own stories or the impact the exhibit had on them.
  • Keep exhibits and gift shop items fresh and ensure people can get a taste test online, to increase temptation.
  • Sell limited-item gifts in gift shops, this helps create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
  • For museums that don’t have a team of technical experts, seek no-code software solutions like memoryKPR to get up and running with digital storytelling, QR code integration, donation links, and social media integration. 
  • Use hashtag campaigns to shift your story from a presentation to a dialog. 
    • The pros of hashtag captures are that, when people are using hashtags, they are reaching beyond your walls to tell your story, 
    • The cons are that social sharing is on the decline, according to the Era of We report. This decline means you are limiting your approach to a smaller audience by relying only on hashtag campaigns. 
    • Focus on meaningful interaction instead of just social reach.
a man and a woman looking at a cell phone to explore interactive exhibit
Photo by Catgirlmutant / Unsplash

Engaging your audience in extras, like images of artifacts not on display, audio messaging about the display, and or progressing storylines linked to a display, will help you ensure people keep coming back for more.

#2 Discover New Revenue Streams for Museums

There are some simple but important things to do, to maximize revenue: 

  • Run contests to grow email marketing lists - yes as social media marketing effectiveness is on the decline, email marketing is still performing, here are 5 email marketing tips to help you grow
  • Host workshops or events - workshops are all the rage, and who doesn’t love a good night at the museum scavenger hunt?
  • Ensure you have links to your e-commerce for gift shops and in every digital story you publish 
  • Seek an aligned sponsor for exhibits, or adopt an artifact campaigns
  • Make donations easy, often, and non-intrusive, an example of this is using a memoryKPR story and enabling the story monetization feature. This adds a donations button on each story you build on the platform.

#3 Extend Your Museum's Reach into the Community

There is a decline in people visiting Museums, so we have to go beyond our walls to reengage with the public and entice them back. 

Embrace the Museums without Walls approach to insert the museum into your community. Regina Eco-Museum demonstrated great civic engagement by collaborating with schools and a senior citizen's home to capture dozens of stories to go alongside a community exhibit on the history of general stores. Capturing senior's stories allowed for a more meaningful exhibit, but also a larger reach in their community that helped grow interest and support in their museum.

Picture showing the Regina Eco Museum Exhibit
The Regina Eco Museum - Museum Without Walls Exhibit

The Western Development Museum was also recently recognized for two programs that took museum stories and activities into the community. First, with a blacksmithing course passing on knowledge and expertise. The museum also created memory boxes that traveled the community with local stories.

Having a QR code attached to exhibits beyond your walls, that teases how much more there is at the museum is a great way to tempt people to visit. Allowing people to see themselves and their ancestors in your exhibits is highly effective in gaining support as it creates a personal relationship between the guest and exhibit.

Art museums are using QR code stories to not just show the art but also capture the behind-the-scenes of the art making process, the backstory of the artist, and to invite guests to share their interpretation of the art.   

Allowing these stories to be captured digitally also allows you to broaden your reach and intrigue the masses in dialog about art pieces. 

#4 Museums as Pillars of Trust and Authenticity

A report by Impact Experience states that 73.3 % of Americans believe that museums are trustworthy, which is 53% higher than the trust index Americans have in politicians (landing at just 20%). Embrace this, showcase yourselves in the community as a pillar of truth, host dialogs, engage with schools, and share the knowledge you are the keepers of. 

Decide where you stand when it comes to Artificial Intelligence.  AI is presenting significant opportunities to make your lives easier, your tasks go faster and for you to stay more organized, as we know Museums have limited time and resources. We see the trend of AI streamlining your workflow continuing. 

Ensuring AI is not used in creating content, or storytelling is an important stand to take if you wish to remain a trusted source for truth. I anticipate more legislation similar to the European Union regarding the disclosure of AI-related content to be implemented more broadly around the world. It's my belief (take it or leave it) that if Museums want to retain the trust of the community, they need to be very careful to ensure their storytelling is true, their content is safe, and that privacy remains a priority, whether it be in person or online storytelling.

memoryKPR is one of the few platforms that ensure you always have access, control, possession, and ownership of your digital content. Be sure to ask any provider you work with, their stance on these data sovereignty principles. 

#5 Build a Thriving Museum Community Online

So often in the Museum space, we think of the community and we think about our annual gala events or our social media channels - but do either of those make you feel like part of an exclusive club? 

Doing a good job at building an online community will drive loyalty and advocacy for your Museum. 

Hubspot suggests that while Social Media may be dying, people still want to connect with friends. However people have sales fatigue and a shortened attention span on social, resulting in them logging on and engaging less on social media.

On the flip side, we see a rise in private communities, like that of memoryKPR, Mighty Networks, or custom-made solutions, that allow members to have a special place they can gather. Creating an online community for your Museum doesn’t take much time and shouldn’t require extra work, it's more about being thoughtful and adding value. Using a platform that is more private than Instagram or Facebook will not only help you access the visitors that are not on social media, but you will also see members become more honest and share more easily, knowing it is a safe private community. 

Tips for having a great private online community include: 

  • Tell more meaningful stories, don’t do the short snippet approach of social media
  • Use voice features (like in memoryKPR) to add stories to images, bringing them back to life with ease
  • Encourage engagement by doing surveys, asking insightful questions, or engaging in dialog
  • Provide teasers that the public doesn’t get to see, like behind the scenes at the exhibits, making members feel like they are part of an exclusive club to drive conversions and retention
  • Remember this is not social media, dig deeper into meaningful stories, and don’t use content that may look like an advertisement

As your audience changes, your patrons will become more comfortable with a private online community. This is a trend that isn’t going anywhere. 

graph displaying percentage of internet users who have not visited an online community site
Source GlobalWebIndex Nov 2019

Keeping the culture, art, and history of a society is an important job, albeit difficult, but I encourage you to not take yourself too seriously; tell stories, have fun engaging with others, try new things, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep fighting the good fight. The work you do matters.

memoryKPR is an easy and affordable way to publish no code gallery pages, add flavor to your stories, link digital stories on-premise with the use of our quick generate QR codes, and it also allows you to accept donations, gather user-generated content and capture an audience larger than social media.

Our platform is built on privacy and choice - ensuring cultural assets are yours, not ours. We observe data sovereignty principles that ensure you always have access, control, possession, and ownership of your digital assets.

Transform Your Museum's Digital Presence with memoryKPR

Schedule your free demo today and take the first step towards a more connected museum.

Book a Demo

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The team at memoryKPR is passionate about helping museums and heritage sites leverage technology to tell compelling stories. Contact us today to discuss how we can support your mission.