FS: What have your experiences with it been like so far?
WC: Our experience so far has been exciting and encouraging for us and for the museum. It is a tremendous amount of work-hours for Shelley and me, but we have enjoyed getting to know 1stfans both face-to-face and via their online profiles. They communicate with us constantly, and vice versa. It has changed the way our museum interacts with its members.
FS: How many people are 1stfans members?
WC: We have had 262 people join 1stfans since the program launched on December 5. They hail from 14 states, nine countries and four continents.
FS: What is some advice you can share with other organizations interested in starting an initiative like this? What things should be in place?
WC: I don't think we can speak for other institutions, since we are trying to reach two demographic groups that are very specifically related to what we do here at the Brooklyn Museum. Again, we created the program in response to two trends that we were seeing at the museum.
That being said, most museums are trying to figure out how to combine online social media and museum membership, and we feel we have been able to do that successfully with 1stfans.
There are several, very important programs and practices that we've had in place that enabled us to create this new membership program. First, the museum has demonstrated a strong commitment to open and available content online. We knew that if we were going to start a program that offered exclusive online content, we needed to continue to have plenty of other content that is available to everyone for free. Secondly, the museum's mission is community-driven, which means that we didn't want to take anything away from the existing free Target First Saturdays program.
Finally, 1stfans can only work in an organization with the resources to launch and maintain it. That may seem obvious, but Shelley and I both spend our days, nights and weekends with 1stfans. People are used to receiving immediate response to online interactions, and 1stfans [shouldn’t expect any less] just because we work in the museum from 9 to 5.