One of the biggest hurdles for all museums, especially museums in larger geographic areas, is getting first-time visitors. In today’s world, we are inundated with advertisements, according to sources, the average person sees between 5,000 and 10,000 advertising images per day. This volume of messages makes it harder than ever for our museums to make a valuable impression with prospects. One of the ways organizations are breaking through the advertising message haze is by partnering with social influencers.

A social influencer is a host on social media who has established credibility in a specific area and has access to an audience they can persuade by virtue of their authenticity and expertise.  Organizations frequently pay social influencers with audiences that match their prospect profile to endorse their products. As the social influencers have built trust with their followers, these efforts often produce conversion numbers significantly higher than other forms of advertising.

While working with global influencers can be quite expensive, there is a way to get a meaningful result from working with influencers without breaking the bank. Most people that live in your town get much of their information from a handful of local websites and well-known people in the community. The local ‘event and calendar’ style websites are typically run by a handful of people that are highly active in the community. The individuals with larger followings are often not ‘social influencers’ by traditional definition; they are simply people with well-developed networks that frequently post on their social media. I have found that frequently, many of these influencers have jobs in the local media, hold regional political offices, have highly visible jobs, or hold a key position in a local civic group.

To do a regional influencer campaign, first, get your team together and brainstorm a list of people in your community that have a high number of local followers. In large metropolitan areas, in addition to your brainstorm, you can also simply Google “Chicago Social Influencers” and find links to articles on the subject. There are websites the offer opportunities to purchase lists of influencers, but I don’t recommend doing this for regional campaigns. You will have more success doing this organically and building your list. Second, make an additional list of area event and calendar websites and brainstorm if people associated with your museum have relationships with anyone that works at these information sources.

Once you have the list, create a VIP behind the scenes special tour of the museum for these individuals. Send the influencers a snail mail special invitation to your special event. Make sure it is a unique experience that has been created specifically for them. When they arrive for the experience, tell them they can post to their social media in any way they wish, including live streaming.

As the influencers go through your experience, they will be telling their followers about your museum. This will introduce thousands of local people to the museum that otherwise would have never considered visiting. You will get more from these influencer posts that you would get from thousands of dollars in advertising.

Final note, make sure you send each influencer that attends a hand-written thank you note and add them to your email lists. Often influencers that attend these types of special events become ongoing social media advocates on behalf of the museum.

The cost of a regional influencer campaign is minimal, and it always brings new visitors to the door.

Article written by Frank Bennett, originally posted at

Thank you for reading! I write, consult, and speak on museum topics with the goal of positively impacting 10,000 museums. If you enjoyed this article, please do three things:

  1. Forward to your friends.
  2. Sign up for updates at my Facebook, Twitter, and at
  3. Implement immediately – Knowledge isn’t power; it’s potential power; make sure you implement quickly.