For years, institutions have treated social media as a necessary extension of their day-to-day work. On meagre budgets, the keepers of these accounts have been expected to amplify the voice of museums beyond just those who visit them, picking up a retweet or two along the way.
But pandemic-induced closures have redrawn traditional museum frontlines. Almost overnight, social media became the receptacle for all questions, complaints and criticisms.
Expectations have grown internally and externally for greater outputs of digital content, and standards have been driven upwards.
Despite shrinking budgets and workforces, museums have transformed themselves into social media monoliths this year.
Initiatives such as #CuratorBattle captivated the country and brought new audiences and fans to view collections all over the globe from the comfort of living rooms. It takes a broad set of shoulders to answer for an institution, to represent its values and history, and to try to embody its identity in every post cast into the public sphere.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t wear each negative comment, reel at each spelling mistake and carry every criticism with me long after I’ve left work. The importance of social media to the sector has changed irreversibly. It is time attitudes and resources caught up.
Jack Yates is the communications officer at the Royal Armouries