Museums are captivating guests with videos, before, during and after a visit.

In this digital age of constantly connected cell phones and media streams, it can be hard for museums to capture the attention of potential visitors, especially young children. That is why video and interactivity are becoming essentials for many museums. Here are several ideas you can use to market your museum better and increase guest engagement.

It Starts Even Before They Step in the Door

Museum marketing videos can be as direct as a promoting a new exhibit or as in depth as a walkthrough of the museum or exhibit space. How cool would it be to see a time-lapsed video of a new installation going in? Or get a 360 degree look at an exhibit? Hear an interview with the artist or curator? Give potential visitors a small taste of what the museum has to offer and prepare the viewer for what they might experience inside.

Deciding where the marketing videos will be shown is essential to their success and should be decided before production even begins. This determines the video’s reach, preferred length, and audience perspective. Are you marketing to die-hard museum fans, or trying to tickle the fancy of someone who doesn’t identify as a museum lover?

While commercials and online videos are two of the major reach points, also consider placing a TV monitor in a front window of the museum to give potential visitors a sneak peek at what’s inside. This can draw in pedestrian street traffic that might otherwise pass you by.

Keeping Their Attention During a Visit

For the longest time, museums and informational exhibits were constrained to text and static illustrations. Over the years, audio tours and short videos have been added, but now we are seeing more and more interactive concepts and the use of interpretive video.

These days, most visitors would rather watch a video about a subject than read about it. And you can do much more with a video then you can with a plaque of text. You can truly take your museum guest inside the story of your exhibit, providing context and behind-the-scenes information.

For example, imagine that you visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and are viewing some of the artifacts. Wouldn’t it be compelling to see a video that shows how the objects were used or see re-enactments of what conditions might have been like in a military hospital at that time? We’re not talking take it to “Mercy Street” realism levels, but give your visitors something that can really take them into the environment.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine: Artifact Minutes – Amputation Kit from Digital Bard on Vimeo.

What if you don’t want to install a TV in your exhibit? This is where mobile technology comes into play. A scannable icon or QR code can allow interested visitors to view the video directly on their phones. And, if operating in a more peaceful environment, captioned or videos with images and text only can keep them grounded in their own search for more information.

Museum video can be especially helpful for exhibits that don’t have physical locations,  like a walking tour of buildings or battlefields.

It’s great to have tour guides to be able to take visitors around to different locations and impart their knowledge to your guests. But, what if you don’t have enough tour guides or the buildings are closed to the public?

With a mobile app or mobile-ready videos, you can take the visitors inside those buildings, give them the information, and provide historic images and video that truly take them into the historical significance of that location.

It Continues After They’re Gone

The experience of the museum doesn’t have to end when the visitors leave. You can extend their experience, influence their return, and ensure they spread the word, by … (You guessed it) … VIDEO!

As with your initial marketing outreach to potential visitors, a follow-up video that allows your visitors to continue their discovery is just as important. It can be as simple as providing a link or code on the back of your tour pamphlet or a follow-up email if they purchased their tickets online.

These videos should be focused on providing more content to take those interested deeper into the world of your exhibit. Consider videos on the restoration of a painting, interviews with the archeologist who discovered the artifact, or an in-depth look at a related item that might not currently be on display.

Giving your visitor access to something that they can use to continue their experience at your museum, makes them more likely to return and share their experience with others who might be interested in the same subject matter.

Video Keeps Information Alive

Educational videos are the second-most popular genre of web video content—50% of all online adults view educational videos on the Web. As technology continues to evolve, video will become an even bigger part of museum marketing and help bring exhibits to life. It also expands access to your museum, whether the guest is on a virtual visit from the other side of the world, or the object is otherwise sitting unloved and unappreciated in your back artifact room.