Whos And Hows Of TikTok For Arts Orgs

By some fortuitous coincidence, I was digging into my news feed backlog and read Seema Rao’s Museum 2.0 post on guidelines for museum Tiktok accounts on the same day Ceci Dadisman put out an appeal to crowdsource a list of good non profit arts organization Tiktok accounts.

Many of Rao’s tips are basic guidelines for all communications employed by non-profits, regardless of medium or platform. They include avoiding insider terminology and only focusing on concepts that appeal to insider interests.

  • Learn their language rather than making them learn ours. My whole challenge is finding analogies between other Tiktok videos and art. If you’re not familiar with Tiktok, you might not know about duets. People reshare other peoples videos with that commentary. I used that popular format but to share ideas about art. Sure, I could have done short traditional videos about artworks. But that is less popular on Tiktok. Why try to get people to my ideas in a way they are less likely to like?

  • Remember people want to learn about art for fun. They are not doing it because it’s good for them. So don’t make it a chore for them. It might be our job, but it’s their time off.

  • Even if people like art, they don’t have much scaffolding. I have a core group of art lovers who know about art. The vast majority of commenters have basic questions or thank me for discussing basic elements. Schools teach less art, and so our visitors have taken less. It makes them no less interested. But it does mean we need to remember that when communicating about art.

  • People don’t care about museums, just the stuff inside them. Museum people, particularly boards, think visitors are excited by museums themselves. Sure, storage, art theft, removing varnish are interesting, but that’s because they look cool. Very few people are jazzed at hearing about the history of your museum.

The one that really caught my eye advised using personal, rather than institutional accounts with the idea that the former was viewed as more credible and personal:

People trust people to tell them about art. While I only recently put my real name, I’ve often had people say they like my approach to talking about art. I’d previously done Tiktoks for a museum account, and I never had as much pick up on videos. I think people want to hear from an authentic human voice rather than a brand.

While all of the accounts on Ceci Dadisman’s list were institutional accounts, the ones that seemed most appealing were those that didn’t seem to be directed by the marketing department. For example, The Royal Opera House and Met Museum pages featured video of artists performing and artworks in a gallery setting.

The Warhol Museum account seems to be entirely curated by their youth creative team and comes at the artist and work from a number of perspectives like how David Bowie and Ozzy Osborne viewed Andy Warhol and the canvas which Warhol had his friends urinate on.

Likewise, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has field researchers talk about collecting ants by sucking them into a tube and the hazards of having them in your mouth if you aren’t careful. (Also, making bad jokes)

And of course, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis collection lends itself to all sorts of opportunities by itself, but the Tiktok account lets folks know the organization isn’t just for kids.

So check out Seema’s post for more thoughts on how to do Tiktoks well and Ceci’s post to add accounts you know of to a Google doc so others can see what people are doing well.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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