“Social media is one of the primary ways that many people receive information” – Interview with Lauren Scharf, Bartol Foundation Social Media Coordinator
Photo courtesy of Lauren Scharf.
For this post, we are going to turn the tables and interview Lauren Scharf, Bartol’s Social Media Coordinator and a recent graduate from the University of the Arts Museum Communication master’s program.
We found you through an internship fair at UArts a year and a half ago. Can you tell us about your program and why you were interested in working with us?
My program at UArts explores the various audience-building and communication areas of museum work, such as marketing, development and fundraising, audience research/evaluation, and digital media. The program has a strong practical focus; nearly all of our courses involve some sort of hands-on project, often working in collaboration with local museums or cultural organizations.
Back when I first applied to my program, I was specifically interested in learning more about how museums can more effectively serve their surrounding communities. When I learned about the Bartol Foundation, I was immediately drawn to its mission to make the arts accessible to people of all walks of life, funding small organizations that have a big impact on their communities. The position also seemed like a terrific opportunity to hone my social media and digital marketing skills, supplementing my coursework at UArts. Because Bartol is such a small organization, I’ve been given a lot of responsibility and have been able to work on a wide variety of projects—I handle all of Bartol’s social media, I get to attend board meetings, and I even got to work on a big grant application last year.
What role do you see social media playing for a foundation like Bartol? How do you think your work with Bartol has expanded its visibility and impact?
For a small organization, social media is a cost-effective approach to marketing our workshops and events. Social media also allows you to target audiences based on both geographic regions and interests, which provides a fair amount of control in reaching our intended audience—teaching artists in the Philadelphia area. In this day and age, social media is one of the primary ways that many people receive information and stay in the loop, so it’s an important strategy to keep in touch with our audiences.
My predecessor, Elizabeth Clay (a fellow UArts Museum Studies alumna!), did an excellent job setting up all of our social media platforms and establishing guidelines. Since this initial groundwork was done before I got here, my role has been focused on continuing her work and thinking of new strategies to extend Bartol’s impact. As one example, I started an ongoing Q&A series on our blog where we interview different individuals in the broader Bartol community—staff and board members, grantees, teaching artists, workshop leaders, and so forth. This has been a great way of getting to know the Bartol Foundation on a more personal level and communicating the importance of our work.
What advice would you give a teaching artist or grantee who is thinking of expanding their social media presence to spread the word about their programs?
In my Museum Studies courses, we constantly talk about the importance of knowing your audience—and social media is no different. For instance, if you’re using social media to promote your work as an artist or organization, think about who you’re trying to reach and what type of content they’re interested in seeing. Since Bartol’s primary audience is teaching artists, I try to focus on content that will be relevant to their work, such as professional development/job opportunities and resources that they can apply to their teaching practice.
Our fabulous social media consultants at ChatterBlast are also huge advocates for social media as a storytelling platform. If you’re working on a long-term project, it’s important to document the process from start to finish so that your followers have a vested interest in the end result. This doesn’t have to be a hugely time-consuming effort—it can be something as simple as sharing occasional photographs and/or short social media posts over the course of the project.
Anything else you would like to tell us?
Thank you to everyone at Bartol for giving me this amazing opportunity! I’ve immensely enjoyed being a part of the Bartol team over the past year and a half, and I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience or more collegial work environment.