Back in July I began collecting data as part of my dissertation looking at the role of social networking sites in audience development, using Twitter as a case study platform. As I have previously posted thank you to everyone who has taken part in this project so far (I couldn’t have done it without you!)

Now the ‘results’ are in I thought it was high time I started sharing some of the data/findings back. So first up size and scale…

Ninety one museums in total participated in the survey of which 71% are using one or more social networking platform on behalf of their institution – still leaving a significant proportion of museums not operating in this space – which might be a relief to those of you that think “everyone’s doing it!”

Taking a closer look the top five most popular platforms were…

1) Facebook86% – Maybe not a great surprise but the third most populous ‘nation’ on Earth ranked as the most used social networking site by the museums that took part. Due to the size of the Facebook community I can understand why any brand let only museums want to be there. However managing a Facebook page takes a lot of TLC . Leaving me to wonder how many of these organisations have profiles and are having meaningful engagement via them?

2) Twitter77% – Making a strong showing in terms of its popularity. More to come on how it is being used another time.

3) Flickr57%

4) YouTube40%

5) Other – 23% – Responses included Audioboo, Postourous, WordPress, Blogger, custom built networks, Blogspot,, ipatter, Digg. As well as Trip Advisor which I hadn’t previously considered as a social networking site but certainly gave me something to think about.

6) Foursquare15% – One of the newer kids on the block but already making it’s presence felt. In contrast location based platform Gowalla was currently only being used by 3% of respondents.

7) Vimeo14%

8) Myspace9% – Despite the death of Myspace calls some museums are still reaching out via this platform.

9) Delicious8%

10) Ning6% – Social media gets a lot of love, especially from the not-for-profit, for being largely ‘free’ to use. It will be interesting to see whether the new costed model for Ning means even fewer museums will consider this custom social network builder in the future.

Image c/o Caro’s Lines licensed under Creative Commons.