Digital Culture NYC: Breaking Down the Walls at MoMA

Amanda Bird is Brand Manager at 360i. You can follow her on Twitter at oiseau678.

I was really looking forward to last night’s event at MoMA and the panelists did not disappoint. As a hard core public radio listener and an art lover and with memberships to most of the major museums on the panel, I was excited to hear first-hand from those who are helping me and other art/music/literature/knowledge lovers connect with the inspirational content coming from these world-renowned institutions. The panel was moderated by Tina Roth Eisenberg of and featured panelists included:

  • Karen Karp, The Metropolitan Opera
  • Victor Samra, The Museum of Modern Art
  • Benjamen Walker, WNYC Radio
  • Shelley Bernstein, Brooklyn Museum
  • Josh Greenberg, New York Public Library
  • Amanda McCormick, Film Society of Lincoln Center

The first half of the session focused on learning more about each institution’s forays into social media. Some of the programs I was already familiar with (if you don’t follow @brooklynmuseum, I highly recommend you do!), while others were new to me. There were six panelists so for the sake of brevity, I’ll just provide a few of my own personal highlights from what I learned about their current efforts in social media:

  • MoMA on Facebook and Flickr – MoMA’s social media presence is not limited to just these two channels, but their Facebook and Flickr presence stood out to me because they both revealed an important lesson – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (or have them join you!).Victor recounted his story about getting MoMA on Facebook. Before setting it up a few years ago, MoMA had previously wondered “Why should we do it just because everyone else is on Facebook?” Once convinced it would be a worthwhile effort, they set up a Facebook page only to discover shortly thereafter that a MoMA page already existed on Facebook…and had roughly 12,000 fans. Turns out that while MoMA was debating whether it’d be worthwhile, fans of the museum answered that question for them, devoting time and effort into setting up a page themselves. So in the beginning, the official MoMA Fan page was competing for traffic and fans with the older, more established Fan page. Victor got in touch with the admin of the original fan page (a college freshman without much free time on his hands) and was granted admin rights to control and add content. Later he worked with Facebook to combine the two pages seamlessly, resulting in a page that currently has over 240,000 fans, including yours truly.Similarly, fans were already contributing content about their experiences with or at the museum on Flickr. MoMA has established a Flickr group where people can contribute their photos from visits to MoMA directly to the group and draws from these to find images to feature on its own Web site.
  • The Brooklyn Museum on Building Community – “Community” was a prevalent theme during the panel. Who is the community you’re trying to engage? Accordingly to Shelley, for the Brooklyn Museum they are focused on building a community around the people who are physically local to the institution (aka Brooklynites). For MoMA, their community is lovers of design, photography and modern art globally. To build up your presence in and among the community you have to both listen and proactively participate in the dialogue regularly – dialogue means both responding to your community and providing valuable information to them. Shelley pointed out that having a sustained conversation with your community does not translate to a 9-5 M-F job – she tweets on weekends, in the early morning, late nights – as often as she can in order to quickly and readily answer the community’s questions or put out the insights that they crave from @brooklynmuseum. In addition, the tweets are always from a “person,” such as Shelley herself or one of her colleagues and they make clear that there is a person with a unique POV behind their tweets.
  • The New York Public Library on their Blog – The New York Public Library recently relaunched their site, which they chose to build in Drupal to more effectively aggregate and link their various content sources across their site architecture, according to Josh. He mentions that only 5% of their site visitors are going to the blog, yet those that do are spending twice the amount of time on the site. To keep folks engaged when visiting, they’re getting some serious new blogging efforts off the ground. Josh’s goal is to have all of their staff trained and contributing content to their various blogs. No small feat for an institution with hundreds of staffers.
Shelley Bernstein, Josh Greenberg and Amanda McCormick (from right to left) discuss how they’re using social media to connect people with their institutions.

These are just some of the highlights and there were valuable insights from all involved. I’d recommend visiting or participating with any of these institutions and, of course, they’re all on Twitter at @NYPL @WNYC @filmlinc @brooklynmuseum @MuseumModernArt and @MetOpera respectively.

‘What is your $ocial Music Currency?’ Presented by SoundCtrl; Sponsored by dotMusic 2/3/10

dani1About this Social Media Week Guest Blogger: Dani Klein is Founder and Blogger at, Founder/Consultant at SocialCity Marketing and Social Media Director at StandWithUs. You can follow Dani on Twitter @YeahThatsKosher.

Ironically held in a space known as “Former Tower Records Space” on Foursquare, ‘What is your $ocial Music Currency?’ discussed the role of Social Media within the music industry. The event was sold out / standing room only, which sure makes me glad I had a press pass.

Admittedly, the music industry is not where I consider myself super-knowledgeable, thus I decided to focus on the words of wisdom relating to social media, marketing and business (which I have a background in).

While the event was advertised as discussing Social Media currency, specifically within the music industry, the panel didn’t really touch on it as much as I would’ve liked. The term “currency” wasn’t really used. Rather they discussed either their personal experiences using social media, mainly Twitter & blogging, or the recent changes to the music industry [caused by technology].

questlove panelThe panel consisted of:

    ?uestLove* – Drummer from the Roots and the Jimmy Fallon Show
    Andrew Katz – Sr. Marketing Manager for Pepsi
    Marisa Bangash– Co-Founder of Uncensored Interview

  • The panel was moderated by James Andrews* – Co-Founder of
*I found ?uestLove and James to be quite interesting characters.

?uestLove discussed the idea that there is little success in the music biz without a tribe / crew / group surrounding it. Even solo artists have their groups. Today, an artist’s crew could be online (especially with the emergence of social media). Andrew added that the world doesn’t need another Britney Spears or Beyonce. As a brand that is entrenched in the music industry, Pepsi is involved in connecting audiences to different tribes. Artists today need their own social network for them to have worth to brands. Are they involved in the network? Do they embrace social media? Brands are looking for those that do, and piggy back on their success.

?uestLove sees the music labels as the middlemen of the music world, which in essence they are. Marisa added that globally, labels aren’t necessary anymore. Due to the emergence of social media, artists can bring their message directly to the consumer. However, ?uestLove added that as an artist today, you need to do a lot more than just spin or produce… Can you blog? Can you represent your brand? He implied that beyond being a good musician you must also be a good marketer / promoter.

Pepsi uses music to find new ideas. Ideas get voted on, and receive grant money from brand. Artists are encouraged to use their social networks (blog & tweet) to gain votes. Andrew claims that Pepsi is new to Social Media (he named Facebook & Twitter specifically), but an upcoming crowdsourced campaign should boost their presence. According to Andrew: Brands are curators (of content). It is easy to sponsor content, much harder to be a creator of content.

Marisa discussed the licensing of indie music by big brands. Brands & bands can go hand in hand, especially if it is organic and authentic.

As a popular tweeter, ?uestLove (~1.3M followers) has been approached by companies to tweet, which he deemed a bit scary. A quarter million dollars is a large carrot to push a brand’s content. (It seems he hasn’t taken a bite, although he said he may sell eventually sell out to Twitter, but not yet). ?uestLove uses Twitter to push new music & bands, and demos that come his way. Causes are important, but can be problematic if they are not properly vetted. This is similar to what I heard Monday evening at the Social Media & Haiti event.

In response to an audience question, ?uestLove noted that Business, Art, and Commerce are a dirty combo. Concerning blogs he mentioned that journalists / writers today are lazy since they are copying content from popular music blogger and just re-purposing the content. This leads to writers not forming their own ideas, which is dangerous. Andrew added that blogs are the new [music] charts. Marisa added that blogs have replaced print and magazines; magazines folded because of blogs, which today has become a crowded space.

And finally, to wrap up the review of the event, the best quote went to an audience member: “Fans today are no longer clapping, but rather are Tweeting.” Too true.