As a museum employee, you’ve likely heard these arguments for ramping up your Facebook publishing:

  • “Storytelling is in your DNA.”
  • “You already have plenty of shareworthy content in your collection.”
  • “You can transcend the walls of your museum and get your message in front of the world!”

If only it was that easy, right?

We all know that even the best content is subject to the whims of the news feed algorithm, especially if there are little – or no – promotional dollars behind it.

But what if I told you the platform isn’t all pay-to-play?

Listen, Facebook recognizes that unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg himself, you don’t have billions of dollars to boost your Facebook content. So they offer some free tools (if you know where to look) to help your museum cut through the noise and get your content in front of the people you care about.

Here’s how to do it:

How to engage with audiences beyond your four walls

1: Build Up To 100k Followers from Your Engagement

Did you know there are people who engage with your posts who may not follow your Page? Facebook’s feature for targeting these individuals is hidden in plain sight – and it’s quite simple to execute. Here’s how to connect with those users:

  1. Go to a post on your Page and click on the users who have reacted to the post. A box will appear with all the engaged users and buttons that say “Invite” or “Liked.”2. Now, go ahead and invite everyone who has engaged with your post but who hasn’t already liked your Page. More often than not there will be a handful of users who don’t follow you – and they may not realize that they don’t!

More often than not there will be a handful of users who don’t follow you – and they may not realize that they don’t!

Disclaimer: Once you hit the 100,000 follower mark, the feature is no longer available to your Page. And unfortunately, there is no special button to invite everyone who has ever liked one of your posts. It is a bit of a tedious task, but if you can put aside 15 minutes a day tackle it, it’ll be well worth the effort.

2: Stay at the Top of Your Followers’ News Feeds

Maybe your problem isn’t your number of followers, but the fact that your followers only see a fraction of the content you publish. Museums tend to have a loyal following (i.e. members) that may not want to miss a thing, but with Facebook prioritizing posts from friends over brands, those followers might be missing important information from you. In order to maximize engagement with these individuals, follow these steps:

  1. Ask your audience to go to your Page and hover over the Following tab in the top navigation bar. Then tell them to click “See First” under the “In Your Newsfeed” section. This will ensure that your content is always prioritized in their feed.
  2. The easiest strategy for promoting this is by writing a post asking those who have liked your Page to check this option. Another way is to direct message new followers about it. Either way, make sure to include a screenshot like the one above.

3: Organically Target Posts for Better Engagement

The third and most essential tool is Facebook’s audience optimization feature: preferred audiences. This tool is amazing because it allows you to target your posts to specific audiences like you would in an ad, but for free! Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, you need to enable audience optimization for your Page. Go to your Page and click “Settings” in the top navigation bar. From there, open the “General” tab (above) and click “Edit” next to “Audience Optimization for Posts.” Check the box allowing preferred audience selection and make sure to save the changes.
  2. Once your post is ready to publish, click on the compass-looking button in the bottom navigation bar that says “Choose the preferred audiences for your posts.”
  3. In the “Preferred Audience” tab, you can narrow down who sees your posts based on their interests. Let’s pretend you’re the Adler Planetarium and you’re posting about your monthly 21+ event Adler After Dark. The theme is Geek Chic VI and it is geared toward people who love all things space adventure. In your targeting, you’d include interests like Adler Planetarium, Star Wars, Star Trek, International Space Station, NASA and outer space. 
  4. In the “Audience Restrictions” tab, you can further limit who sees your post. At this point you may be thinking “Wait, I want everyone to see my post!” Remember that the more targeted your content, the more likely it is to garner engagement and your desired outcome. So go ahead and choose age, gender, location and language targeting.

The Adler After Dark event is geared at millennials so you’d select all genders and an age range around 21-40. Since the Alder Planetarium is in Chicago and you realize people won’t travel much more than an hour to the event, you’d choose the Greater Chicago Area as your location.


Don’t forget that these tools are only part of the Facebook marketing solution. The real challenge is building thumb-stopping and highly shareable content – or what Facebook now calls “meaningful experiences.” You can build an impressive following and be skilled at targeting but it all means nothing if those people don’t find your content compelling enough to engage with it.

In my next post, we’ll explore how to connect with your museum’s audiences using Facebook advertising and the difference between boosted posts and Facebook Ads. Stay tuned! If you’re looking for more information on Facebook content or audience building strategy, drop me a line at [email protected].

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