If we are lucky, we have people that love everything about your museum! They come to everything, they talk about the museum on social media, they own endless affinity items, and they tell all of their friends. With a little effort, you can make the most of these valuable relationships. For this article, we will refer to these individuals as ‘advocates.’

Advocates are a source of high-quality curated marketing. They promote your offerings to their circle of influence, which is often more impactful than any ad you could have purchased. In the information overload world in which we currently live, people assign value to a small number of information sources typically made up of friends, social influencers, and a few ‘trusted’ organizations. We value these sources of information at different levels. For example, if my brother recommends a movie, I’m going to see it a very high percentage of the time. If someone whose podcast I follow suggests the movie, I’m interested, but I made need more of a nudge. This is where your museum advocates are especially helpful. Museum created communications are critical, but they do not have the same decision level value a recommendation from a trusted source. When someone I know personally and respect recommends an activity, the recommendation holds significant weight, not just because I trust them, but also because they are putting their name and reputation behind the recommendation.

The key is maximizing the involvement of your advocates. You want to treat them like they are staff. Give them exclusive access and make them feel like they belong. Here are a few recommendations to build these relationships:

  1. Recognize when they promote museum programs: Like and comment when you see they have posted about something at your museum. Also, occasionally forward their post to the museums own social media. This makes them a star.
  2. Give them special access: For example, one museum I spoke with lets their advocates come in the night before and take “sneak peek” pictures. One of the best versions of this I have ever seen had to do with exhibit promotional videos. The museum would create an exhibit promotional video, like an early movie trailer, and give their advocate’s access to it a week before the museum posted it on social media. The advocates were the first look marketing team, and they got to brag about their special access in the process.
  3. Give them a special designation, such as “Museum Advocate Team” with a digital decal, a shirt, and a unique name tag that shows your logo, their name, and says “Museum Advocacy team.”

Treat your advocates well and they will give you thousands of dollars of high-quality marketing free of charge. For museums, these kinds of curated communication are golden.

Article by Frank Bennett. Originally published at www.worldclassmuseum.com.