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MA Project | Online Exhibition: The Girls

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, art institutions around the world are temporarily closed, galleries and museums rely on their websites and social media platforms to keep serving the public, such as collections database, online exhibitions, curator lectures, virtual tours and more. Nowadays, more and more galleries and museums have a better appreciation for digital content. Meanwhile, they also face question such as how to expand the experience of visitors with digital tools. In order to examine social media use in art museums and develop effective social media strategies for enriching the visitor experience, the project will create and promote an online imaginary exhibition called “Yimiao-The Girls”, whilst building a social media eco-system based around four different platforms: Blog, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Event Poster

Works by Yimiao Liu

Blog is the central part of the eco-system, which produces all contents related to the exhibition. Other platforms (Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) are aiming to disseminate contents and drive traffic to the blog. Specifically, Twitter aims at raising the awareness of new events and creating conversations with audiences. Instagram is used to communicate with visitors based on its highly visual characteristic. YouTube has a more actively participatory culture that allows museums to effectively engage visitors (Russo et al., 2008). Besides, these three social networking sites also offer new content to the blog by interacting and co-creating with visitors. The whole system creates “more genuinely participatory, dialogic and inclusive spaces” (Kidd, 2010), enabling art museum to enrich the visitor experience continually.

Social media content calendar for the imaginary exhibition

The figure above shows a detailed content plan for all social media platforms during 28th of July to 8th of August. From the view of content type, the blog offers comprehensive information about artworks and artist, as well as multimedia content, such as curatorial essay, virtual tour and more. For Twitter, it focuses on content that encourages interaction with audiences, such as live chat with audiences through successive posts. For Instagram, it aims to engage audiences by presenting high-quality images of artworks. For YouTube, it tends to show the preparation of the exhibition and the process behind artwork.

From the time perspectives, the imaginary exhibition occurred from 1st of August to 8th of August. Aside from publishing content during the event, effectively using social media before and after the event can engage with audiences and make for a better experience (Roach, 2019). The following summarises content strategies for different phases of the exhibition.

Before the event

1) Create an event page on the blog to invite audiences and direct them to relevant information about the exhibition.

2) Publish countdown posts on Instagram and Twitter to remind people that the exhibition is about to open.

3) Share a few artwork pictures and posters on Instagram and Twitter that get people excited and entice them to visit the blog and find out more.

4) Post a teaser video on YouTube to build up the hype and provide audiences with necessary details about the exhibition.

During the event

1) Upload all works in the exhibition to the blog and add interpretations for each painting.

2) Produce multimedia content related to works in the exhibition, like pictures and videos of the creative process, and share them on all social media platforms.

3) Create a participatory activity on Twitter, like a live Q&A session, which provides an opportunity for audiences to ask questions and get responses directly from the artist or curator. Firstly, tweeting about the session with the specific hashtag #askyimiao a day beforehand to tell users how to participate in the activity and when they should attend. Next, on the event day, finding questions by searching for the specific hashtag, then answering the question and retweeting. This way, all followers will see interactive details in real-time and get more personalised contents about the exhibition.

After the event

1) Create Q&A summaries for audiences who could not attend the online activity in-person and add more image contents that inspire that ‘it-is-like-I-was-there’ experience.

2) Save Instagram Stories to Story Highlights to view and share contents long-term.

3) Upload all digital contents to the virtual gallery and produce a virtual tour video. This way, audiences will engage with the exhibition again and obtain an immersive visiting experience.

Overall, I produce rich content within the social media eco-system and took advantage of different characteristics of four social networking sites, as well as enhance the visitor experience of learning, social, and leisure. However, some types of content need further improvements. Firstly, I should have hosted a giveaway on Twitter or Instagram, because social media giveaway activity could raise awareness of the exhibition and help convert followers to event attendees (Roach, 2019). Secondly, I should have posted more entertaining content such as behind-the-scenes with backstage pictures and video, because entertaining content could appeal to the emotions of the target audience and increase engagements (Verschueren, 2017).

In future practice, I will aim at further expanding participatory experience incorporates both online social networking context and offline museum space. For instance, combining social media with mobile technology to build more engaging learning experiences by directly facilitate interactivity with artworks through portable and networked nature of mobile technology (Naismith & Smith, 2009).



Kidd, J. (2011). Enacting Engagement Online: Framing Social Media Use for The Museum. Information Technology & People, 24(1), 64-77.

Naismith, L., & Smith, M. P. (2009). Using mobile technologies for multimedia tours in a traditional museum setting. Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training, 247-264.

Russo, A., Watkins, J., Kelly, L., & Chan, S. (2008). Participatory Communication with Social Media. Curator: The Museum Journal, 51(1), 21-31.

Roach, M. (2019). Social Media Event Promotion: The Complete Guide. Retrieved from

Verschueren, N. (2017). Content marketing on Instagram. Retrieved from


For more detailed information about the project, please visit the website at:


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