Friday, February 14, 2014

MFA Shares Love of Impressionism Across Digital Platforms

An email invited me to participate in a contest. The “Boston Loves Impressionism” exhibit would be curated by MFA members, who would select the paintings to be exhibited. It was a great concept, well executed.

I saw the original email, but I’m not much of a contestant, so I hadn’t tried it out. Making a visit to the MFA during the contest, it was hard to avoid. This card graced our table with a QR code connecting to the contest page. Each week for 4 weeks a set of impressionist paintings was posted and visitors to the page were allowed to vote for their favorites. The museum has a set of computers that allow visitors to look for information—great idea--and it was easy to vote from them and people seemed to be doing so while we were there.

Your vote not only counted in determining the paintings to be hung, it qualified you for an invitation to the opening weekend. The MFA has built an entire weekend of activities around the opening. There are valentine-themed activities as well as gallery talks about paintings and painters featured in the exhibit. I should note that the special Valentines Day dinner at the Bravo café is already sold out! The MFA has long been a meeting place for upscale singles as well as having many family and children’s features.

The invitation email featured all of the above as well as a link to the Pinterest posting of the paintings to be exhibited—just in case you can’t make it to the museum. Note that the newsletter has the usual sharing icons. It mirrors the page on the museum site which also prominently features sharing opportunities. As might be expected this “crowdsourced” exhibit drew considerable favorable publicity. The Globe reports that 10,000 people voted in  the third week of the contest.

This contest made great use of MFA resources and its digital marketing abilities. It has been a wonderful membership engagement—and thank you—activity. I have just two suggestions.

I forget things like going to a site to vote. When I first voted, I would have happily opted in for email reminders each time a new set of paintings went up. In terms of voting itself, the number of votes for each painting were displayed on the page. I would suggest hiding the current vote tallies until the visitor has voted. Seeing them while you are voting makes you wonder how much you are being influenced, even if you are trying hard not to be.

I repeat. It was an excellent concept in the annals of social media for good. It was well executed, and I’m sure the exhibit, which of course starts on Valentines Day, will be a great success!

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