Social Media Spotlight: The Guggenheim and YouTube Play

Welcome to the third installment of the Social Media Spotlight, our monthly feature focusing on arts organizations’ social media strategies.

This month’s spotlight is the Guggenheim Museum’s strategy with YouTube Play, the recently debuted biennial celebrating creative talent in the realm of online video. The response leading up to Youtube play was massive, with over 23,000 video submissions and over 46,000 subscribers to the YouTube Play channel. The channel, to date, has been viewed over 23 million times. 25 videos were selected by an esteemed jury and celebrated on October 21st with an event at the Guggenheim in New York that was live streamed worldwide.

I recently had a chance to chat with Associate Curator Hanne Mugaas about YouTube Play:

Where did the idea originate for the Guggenheim to team up with a social media site like YouTube?

The Guggenheim had already collaborated with Google on Design It: A Shelter Competition, where on the occasion of the exhibitions Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward and Learning By Doing, the Guggenheim and Google SketchUp invited amateur and professional designers from around the world to submit a 3-D shelter for any location in the world using Google SketchUp and Google Earth. Ideas for new collaborations originated from this project, and a celebration of online video became the next step.

Instead of using their existing YouTube channel, the Guggenheim decided to create an entirely new channel for YouTube Play. What drove that decision? Did it have a positive effect on your original channel?

Since the project is a collaboration between YouTube and the Guggenheim, we wanted a channel for Play content exclusively. The fact that it is a biennial (the project will continue every second year) is another reason why we wanted a separate platform. The project has certainly had a positive effect on the Guggenheim YouTube channel, and it has made it possible for us to reach new audiences.

Since its creation last May, the YouTube Play channel has gained over 46,000 subscribers. How did the Guggenheim cultivate such a large number of fans?

The project is unique in its global scope, which has generated extensive interest. We got 23,358 submissions, which is unheard of in a traditional art context. The pairing of YouTube and Guggenheim made people curious about the outcome. Most importantly, the shortlist and the top 25 videos have a diverse range of high quality works; videos that make you want to spend time on and revisit the channel.

In addition to YouTube, the Guggenheim also has a major presence on other social networks and social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, & Flickr. What roles did these other sites play in your social media strategy with YouTube Play? Did the fact that YouTube Play culminated with a specific event affect your overall social media strategy?

The social media sites were important in getting the word out, and to drive submissions. We also started a blog, The Take, which contextualizes the project through writing by art, film, and Internet experts. We did frequent YouTube Play updates on Facebook and Twitter to keep people informed about the progression of the project. These were certainly important tools for the event, especially to make people aware of the live stream, and the external projections on the Guggenheim building in New York.

Speaking of events, the Guggenheim took full advantage of YouTube's new streaming service to live stream the YouTube Play event from the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  How was your experience with streaming video?

The live stream was a very important element given the global scope of the biennial; this way, anyone anywhere could watch the event live. It was a successful experience for us, and the feedback has been very good.

What advice would you give to other, smaller arts organizations that want to experiment with live streaming their own events?

Streaming video is a great way to make your content available to a global audience, either it’s an event, a panel or a talk. To watch a live stream is special, and as a cultural producer, it is a great asset to know that people around the globe are watching.

Thanks again to Hanne Mugaas and the Guggenheim Museum. Visit the YouTube Play channel to check out the 25 selected videos from the exhibition and view selected clips from the live streamed event.

Is your organization doing exciting work in social media? Leave us a comment and let us know. We may feature you in an upcoming spotlight!