Jay Z at the Warhol in Pittsburgh. Photo: Lenny S via Instagram

Jay Z at the Warhol in Pittsburgh in late January 2014. Photo: Lenny S via Instagram

By Abby Mathieu, Point Park News Service:

When hip-hop artist Jay-Z came through Pittsburgh last month, he took the time to check out the North Side’s Andy Warhol Museum and kicked back on a red velvet couch similar to one the pop art creator once owned.

After being posted to Instagram, the photo went viral. More than 7,600 people “liked” it and Endia Howze, a singer in Minneapolis, chimed in with: “Get ur feet off the couch lol.”

In this Internet age of instant access and global reach, The Warhol Museum engages with, not only customers in its building, but also fans of the artist from around the world through social media, museum administrators said.

Writer Abigail Mathieu gets her 15 minutes of fame at the Warhol. Photo: Submitted

Writer Abby Mathieu gets her 15 minutes of fame at the Warhol. Photo: Submitted

Andy Warhol is a figure known worldwide, so the museum’s social media accounts engage viewers living anywhere from New York City to Hong Kong, said Emily Meyer, the museum’s assistant communications manager. Because of this diverse audience, as well as the uniqueness of the brand itself, the museum chose to pave a new road for its own social media tactics.

“It’s an extension of who we are as a brand in engaging people and making them feel like this is their community too,” Meyer said.

Andrew Rinaldi, an independent social media consultant, said social media can be important for any museum.

“[Social media] is a great place for feedback and ownership,” Rinaldi said. “A visitor to a museum will engage and support a museum more if they feel like they had a part in providing feedback or have ownership in something because the feedback they gave was implemented.”

The Warhol signed up for Facebook in December of 2008. During the first couple of years, The Warhol’s presence on Facebook was lacking, officials said. The museum had a substantial amount of “likes” simply because of the name, but the administrators at the time were doing little aside from posting event information every couple of weeks.

When Joshua Jeffery, the museum’s manager of Digital Engagement, began working at The Warhol in March 2010, he was enthusiastic about engaging with the already present community on the museum’s Facebook page, as well as creating a following on Twitter with @TheWarholMuseum.

“It was not a marketing thing,” Jeffery said “My whole strategy was just understanding how people interact with the collection through digital means.”

Jeffery got the creativity rolling on these sites, and in August 2011, he gained some help in organization and strategy when Meyer joined the museum. Now the two work together to keep up with the museum’s 613,619 followers on Twitter and the 63,072 likes on Facebook.

Aside from Facebook and Twitter, the museum also has a presence on Google+.

“It’s new and we’re just trying to figure out the worth of it and how it works for us and what we are trying to do,” Meyer said.

The two help each other to edit posts to ensure the Warhol brand is portrayed in a consistent and effective way. Meyer can see their posts from a marketing and public relations standpoint, while Jeffery can check in to make sure everything is still genuine, creative and conversational. The most important thing to them is keeping the voice of The Warhol Museum consistent on every outlet.

“It helps that I’m in a marketing-PR sort of standpoint,” Meyer said. “Part of my job is to protect that brand and make sure it is consistent.”


The Warhol encourages social media engagement by setting up several iPads linking back to the museum’s website and social media accounts for guests. Photo: By Abby Mathieu, Point Park News Service.

The Warhol uses #WarholQuote to tweet out memorable quotes from Warhol himself and #SoundSeries to promote monthly sound series events. Using these hashtags, the museum sees a great deal of feedback, Jeffery said.

Additionally, the museum encourages social media engagement by setting up several iPads linking back to these sites for guests to use during their visit.

The museum also offers an app for smartphones called “D.I.Y. Pop” that allows users to create their own silkscreen print, just like Warhol, and then post it to social media, tagging the museum.

The museum is constantly looking for new  ways to keep up with its fans and strives to respond to the many fans that tweet throughout the day, Meyer said.

“The brand takes its cues from Warhol, and what is more ‘Warholian’ than social media?” Jeffery said. “Everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame.”

Note: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review re-published this story. A version picked up by the Associated Press appeared in the Houston Chronicle, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other papers nationwide.