Thinking Like A Bear: Building a Social Media Training Plan with a Museum Mascot in a University Museum

Demonstration
Max Evjen, Michigan State University Museum, USA, Erik Rujan, Michigan State University, USA

In Fall of 2016 the Michigan State University Museum launched @MSUMuseumBear, a Twitter Mascot of the Museum’s Brown Bear in an effort to engage the MSU Community (students, faculty, staff) more deeply. The Museum staff recognized this as an opportunity for a student to build social media skills by managing the channel as part of the student’s internship responsibilities. The transitory nature of student work means that the role will experience a high rate of churn upon each student’s graduation. In order to prepare for this eventuality, the Museum staff, with the current student managing the channel, created an ad hoc content strategy and guidelines for the account in preparation for the next student manager. Other challenges include the desire for a youthful, in your face exuberance, even snarkiness, of the sort needed to attract young audiences, that run counter to the commitment of a University Museum to fostering scientifically sober, respectful dialogue. It is a continuing struggle to get the tone and balance right. But even in the face of challenges the results so far indicate the experience provides engagement for the MSU Community and beyond, and provides an engaging way for a student to develop career planning skills more often addressed in graduate students:

Periodic self-assessment of one’s skills and interest
Knowledge of diverse career options and current/future job markets
Ability to investigate necessary skills/knowledge for particular careers
Ability to adapt to a changing environment
Willingness to examine, adapt, and adopt practices, methods, and ideas from perspectives very different from one’s own
Ability to identify and seek advice from a mentor(s)
Understanding of expectations for current position and/or for job advancement

Bibliography:
American Physiological Society, Career Development Skills
http://www.the-aps.org/mm/Education/Publications/Education-Reports/Higher-Ed/skills/Career-Development-Skills

Allie Cline, Social Media Marketing and Engagement, Workshop for Texas Monthly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El7mzCdmMU4&t=91s&es_p=5013037

Ryan Dodge, I Am Not a Social Media Guru, MCN Ignite 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3s8UWveSU8

Russel Dornan, Should Museum’s Have a Personality?, Medium.com
https://medium.com/@RussellDornan/museumpersonality-87ab2112ee9e