It’s no secret that a smart social media presence can help any brand—even one as entrenched as the Metropolitan Museum of Art—to expand and engage its fan base. Most companies employ social media coordinators to plan and carry out these efforts, but one man is now working pro-bono with some of New York’s largest cultural institutions to build their Instagram followings.
The New York Times profiles Dave Krugman, a 26-year-old professional photo retoucher from Brooklyn, who became involved with the Met after writing an unsolicited letter to the museum, articulating a comparison between “what the printing press did for books and writing and what Instagram has done for photography and visual arts.” He eventually met with their online community manager, with whom he generated the #emptymet hashtag and strategy. He now leads after-hours guided tours where friends and fellow social influencers can explore the empty museum, seeking fodder for their accounts. This has helped the Met’s own account gain followers, boosted traffic to the museum’s website, and built awareness and excitement around events and exhibitions. He also went behind the scenes at Frieze New York, using the tag #emptyfrieze.
Krugman, with his nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, is now considered the go-to guy for museums and libraries hoping to increase their presence on the photo-sharing platform, which counts more than 200 million active users. According to the Times, “The New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, among others, have all used Mr. Krugman to find their voices on Instagram and attract a coveted younger demographic.”
Krugman, who believes Instagram is successful because it is “much stronger than pushing out normal P.R.,” also stated that thanks to his new-found reputation, he is likely to begin charging money, so if you’re a major cultural institution looking for thousands of followers, better get your checkbook out.
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