How V&A Dundee Found Their Voice on Social Media

After months of Ariana Grande lyrics and Pantone colour palettes, V&A Dundee opened on 15 September 2018. Behind the scenes, Digital Producers Russell Dornan and Amber Keating had been responsible for building great anticipation and a sizeable audience on social media. Seven months later, they shared their lessons learned with the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group:

Flex Your Personality

Prior to the opening, the organisation used a ‘hide to reveal’ approach, which meant that they couldn’t reveal anything until strategic points in the schedule. Without any collections or building updates to share, Russell and Amber used this as an opportunity to ‘flex their personality’ and fill this gap by mixing the tools they had (photos of the exterior) with something fun, including Pantone palettes (sticking to the design theme) and ‘ridiculous words’ (such as quotes and song lyrics). This method proved to be an accessible way to bring people in.

When they were finally faced with more functional tasks (such as opening hours), they made sure to bring this personality into these posts.

Evolve Your Instagram Account

Russell and Amber also set out to make the Instagram account more dynamic and colourful with a steady stream of posts. This included commissioning students for #VADvent with a ‘swipe to reveal’ format.

In 2018, they wanted to create a more ‘design-y’ and official feel with attention-grabbing posts and tiled images which were visually appealing by themselves and on the grid. For the last #VADvent calendar, they only used one artist to help achieve this look (pictured below).

This year, they’re keeping Instagram very focused, visual and chic. If they need to promote something that isn’t as beautiful (or if its temporary – such as selling tickets), they turn to Instagram Stories.

Thoughts on Spout Social

During the lead up to the opening, Russell and Amber were using Spout Social, a social media monitoring tool. Between them and a third Digital Producer, they were able to divide their work into three strands: storytelling, monitoring and responding.

Russell and Amber agreed that Sprout is potentially not the best for day-to-day activities, but great for big events (such as their opening), as they were able to monitor everything. They liked that they were able to pull tags into their feed, track user relationships one-to-one and send emails directly from Spout (for example, if there was a complaint directed towards a certain department).

Tips and Tricks

Throughout their presentation, Amber and Russell shared plenty of other tips. They encouraged us to highlight the darker side of exhibitions/events and talk to other organisations online. They also mentioned running naming competitions – but suggested that we picked the finalists to avoid anything inappropriate. They used Snapchat filters for their opening weekend but warned us that the analytics weren’t great. Instead of an afterthought, social media was also integrated social media into the “A Few Minutes of Play” installation, inviting visitors to share a photo of something they wear and explaining how it explores their identity using #VADwardrobe.

Thanks to Amber and Russell for letting us peek behind the curtain. We’re looking forward to many more Pantone photos and pop culture references.


Header Image Credit: David McLeod

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