The Brooklyn Museum has launched a new members only program called 1stfans. For $20 a year, this "socially networked museum membership" connects 1stfans members using Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. I received a membership for a Christmas gift and was very excited to see that the first event was with the street artist Swoon.
The $20 price tag for permission to view a protected Twitter feed and to be a member of private Flickr and Facebook groups is absolutely brilliant! Who else is making money in this manner with Twitter? There are discussions about how Twitter should monetize or how to advertise via Twitter, but not much about how companies can actually monetize their presence on Twitter. (If you know of any good monetization examples, please let me know.)
Maybe museums and cultural institutions are just different than brands and corporations. People understand the museum membership model, therefore a social media membership to the Brooklyn Museum kind of makes sense. People are already used to paying a museum for exclusive content, members-only lines at the museum and a tax deduction. This model does not transfer over to the typical big brand, which spends millions of dollars a year trying to get people to listen. However, there is no doubt that a thoughtful presence (membership or not) on Twitter has helped brands like Zappos and Dell.
But with so many brands clamoring to seize the opportunities provided by Twitter, what expectations do people have of companies or institutions? What sort of return will I get via the social media itself? That's what I'm most interested to find out. I've got another blog entry in the works about the first few weeks of my 1stfans membership -- what's been working and what hasn't.
Something to Think About: Museums might be able to convince people to pay for a protected Twitter fee, but those folks are going to expect a Twitter feed worthy of that fee.