You may have spent lots of time and money refreshing your website, but how well does it actually perform on people’s desktops and mobile devices? If it’s too slow, people will give up and go elsewhere, so loading speed is important to monitor. Thanks to Google, you can test the speed of your website plus receive suggestions for improvement for free. Go to PageSpeed Insights and enter your website address. In a few seconds, you’ll receive a detailed report. EngagingPlaces.net scored 70/100 for desktop performance and if you think that’s low, I checked a couple of my client’s websites and they fared much worse. If you’d like to learn more, watch the Dotto Tech video “Episode #47: Importance of Site Speed” that explains how he redesigned his WordPress website to perform better.
Google has regularly shared findings from studies conducted from various sources (including its own analytics from searches and YouTube) in Think with Google, which I receive as an email a couple times each month as a subscription. They’ve now gathered those studies together in a new Data Gallery which, of course, can be searched by topic. There’s nothing for “museums,” “historic sites,” or “tourism,” but there is lots for “travel & hospitality.” You can also narrow your search by industry (e.g., “travel & hospitality”), by platform (e.g., mobile, video), by themes (e.g., consumer trends, Millennials, U.S.).
A quick browse through the “travel & hospitality” shows the growing importance of video. For example, their research shows that two out of three U. S. consumers watch online travel videos when they’re thinking about taking a trip and nearly 90 percent of YouTube travel searches focus on destinations, attractions/points of interest or general travel ideas. This suggests that historic sites and house museums need to Continue reading →
In this 17 slide deck, the Lukens Company explains how they promoted Teen Night Out at the Seattle Art Museum using social media. Since 2007, the museum has held thirteen Teen Night Outs with over 8,000 attendees. You’ll find that it’s a well-rounded campaign that carefully defined the target audience and used several measures of success. If you want to reach teenagers, you’ll want to check this out.
Like all good museologists, I have a small cabinet of curiosities where I collect things of wonder, inspiration, and imagination. Mine is virtual and sits in Evernote. It’s time for a year-end clean-up, so here are a few that didn’t develop into full blog posts but even in their unrefined state, seem sufficiently interesting to share:
Google is continually looking for ways to get information to us as quickly and easily as possible. The last couple years it’s been creating quick descriptions of places using five keywords–but I’m not sure how they’re derived. A recent search for “historical society near Maryland” in Google Maps associated the American Historical Association with “symbol” and the Historical Society of Washington DC with “celebrities.” Who doesn’t like attention like that? The most surprising, though, is the description of the DAR National Headquarters with Continue reading →
Invention meets social media in a summer camp format. In 2012, MAKE held a Maker Camp on Google+, introducing an online summer camp inspired by the creative and diverse maker culture. It was a six-week program featuring 30 days of projects and activities for teens 13-18. Every day a different counselor posted how-to instructions and hosted a Hangout, giving campers a chance to ask questions and show off their projects. It was free and open to everyone with a Google+ profile.
How can new technologies transform or expand your programs? Can Google+ or Hangout help you work with colleagues to complete projects? Check out what the Henry Ford Museum is doing with Maker Faire Detroit. Can your summer camps incorporate some ideas from Maker Faire®?
Okay, everyone knows about Google but Google+ and Google Places is still a mystery for many people. It may become a bit simpler because the rumor is that Google Places is slowly being replaced by Google+ Local. Or did that just complicate things? Let’s start over.
Google search results for “historic sites in philadelphia”
Google has launched new search results that include the usual title, web link, and brief description, but now adds the address, phone number, shows the location on a map, a link to reviews, and a Zagat ranking on a scale of 1 to 30. In the example to the left, you’ll see the search results for “historic sites in Philadelphia” and that the Eastern State Penitentiary (the third item) received a Zagat rating of 25 (it really is an amazing place) and has 81 Google reviews (wow! their visitors have opinions). This new form of listing doesn’t occur for every city, just those that seem to have enough places to warrant them (right now, this list appears for Denver but not San Francisco). Local information is being integrated across Google (including the Zagat ratings, which was acquired by Google last year), so you’ll find Continue reading →
Independence Hall in Google World Wonders. To protect the statue’s identity, his face has been blurred!
Google recently launched its World Wonders Project, an edited compilation of world heritage sites using its Street View technology to “bring to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world.” If you’re not already familiar with Street View, it allows you to navigate Google Maps through 360-degree images so you can look left, right, up, and down. At present, they’ve assembled 132 sites from 18 countries, including Stonehenge, Pompeii, Versailles, and Himeji Castle. Sites are organized by location and theme, and each site features a large navigable photo with a map and a slide-out window of information, video, and photographs. The World Wonders Project also includes education packages for primary and secondary levels that are linked to specific “wonders,” such as “liberty and the US declaration of independence” for Independence Hall. These are large zipped files, so I didn’t investigate them.
It’s exciting that Google is working with Unesco and the World Monuments Fund to bring attention to this amazing places, but there’s some work to do. First of all, Continue reading →
"What's Next for Social Media" Forum at the National Archives.
The National Archives brought together a diverse panel of practitioners and critics of social media to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for communication with the public in, “What’s Next in the Social Media Revolution?” at its Seventh Annual William G. McGowan Forum on Communications on Friday, November 4. A really informative (and free!) evening and for historic sites there were these particularly useful insights and recommendations:
Social media is not just for socializing, but can inform and motivate. Alex Howard, the Government 2.0 Correspondent for O’Reilly Media, provided a quick history of social media noting that many of them are very new (Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg launched in 2004; YouTube and Twitter in 2006) but the turning point was the Iran elections in 2009, which showed that the use of social media could have tremendous impacts on society. My advice: your organization may not have the capacity to use social media actively right now, but Continue reading →
Yesterday, Google launched Google+ Pages worldwide, which expands their network from people to places. Now historic sites, museums, galleries, organizations, associations, and even advocacy campaigns can have a Page in Google+. It’s similar to Facebook, but you have access to such Google+ features as:
email distribution lists (called Circles), which can help you build special interest groups around your collections or programs
group video chats (called Hangouts), which can help you hold meetings for up to 9 people
sending text messages as a group chat (called Messenger), handy if you’re coordinating a large event and need to communicate with everyone quickly.
Likewise, your members, users, and supporters will be able to more easily connect with you by adding you to their Circles, plus they can recommend your content on Google Search.