Digital Snapshot Q&A | Adrian Murphy

Adrian Murphy, Digital Manager at the Horniman Museum and Gardens talks to us about the value of digital...

We caught up with Adrian Murphy, Digital Manager at the Horniman Museum and Gardens to chat about the value of digital, his predictions for the next year and dinosaurs!


Q: Tell us a bit about your background and current role?

I’m the Digital Manager at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, and I have been working here for just under six years. I lead on website developments, social media and other digital activities and I’m very much plugged into marketing, fundraising and communications campaigns. Before here I worked for a small environmental charity and before that, the Royal Geographical Society, in website roles. I studied Geography and English at university and I did a postgraduate diploma in publishing studies.

Q: What role does digital play at the Horniman Museum and Gardens and what value does it bring?

Digital plays a pivotal role at the Horniman, it’s massively important for our marketing and communications and it provides one of our strongest ways to communicate with our audience. Since 2010, visitors to the website have doubled and pageviews on the website have increased by more than a third. Digital is an integral way for us to be able to communicate with our audience and tell them about the different events and exhibitions that are happening here but also really practical things like how to visit and so on. Increasingly, it’s also important in showcasing our collections to a much wider audience than will ever visit the museum.
Digital allows us, particularly in social media terms, to extend and cement the relationship with our visitors. We hear from our visitors that they really love the Horniman and we see that social media is a really good way for people to make that relationship a bit more visible.


Q: Can you tell us about a specific piece of digital work that you think worked really well?

Just last week we opened a new exhibition called Dinosaurs Monster Families, which is a family friendly exhibition looking at dinosaur families. To promote that we created a viral meme game, where people could take the first letter of their name and the month they were born in and create their dinosaur name. It was very simple for audiences, but behind it there was a lot of research that our Digital Assistant had done into actual dinosaur names (finding 26 and 12 different dinosaur names that you could have and the meaning behind those names as well). Once people shared their names, we wrote back to them and said this is what it means, or gave them a little fact, or just started a conversation with them around their dinosaur names. I think it was successful because for the audience it was very easy to understand, it was playing into trend that already exists out there - such as the create your own Star Wars name - and it got people really excited about the exhibition.

Q: What's the single biggest challenge your organisation faces when it comes to digital?

Time and resource. We are a relatively small team of two and we work very hard to achieve everything that we want to achieve, but sometimes there isn’t time for every idea that we might have. The upside to that is that it forces us to focus on the best ideas and towards the most strategically useful things. It’s a good challenge.


Q: What do you see as being the big digital trend(s) for the next 12-24 months?

I think in social media there is a trend emerging now, of people moving away from very large social networks. It’s a move away from the model that Twitter has where it’s one person communicating to many people. People now seem to be moving towards more contained groups of people on platforms like Whatsapp and Snapchat. I think that’s going to be a trend over the next year or so - I think that will bring real opportunities and also challenges for people who work in communication and marketing.


Q: What advice would you give to an organisation that was completely new to digital?

I would say in terms of marketing, to look to the organisation you are working for and its aims, look to the organisation’s audience (both existing and desired) and then match those as closely as you can to whatever digital activity you are going to do. Try not to get too distracted by just having something on every digital platform, you’re better off doing some of them really well rather than all of them in a piecemeal way.

Q: Finally, books: analogue or digital?

Analogue. I’d like to read digital books, but I don’t really want another device.

Follow Adrian on Twitter @acediscovery / @hornimanmuseum

Photo credit: Sophia Spring