What Abba Can Teach About Social Media

In the social media course I teach each year at the IAE Aix Graduate School of Management I am pretty sure that I have never once mentioned Abba, the iconic Swedish pop group that peaked in the 1970s before my students were born. But this year I will be adding a case study about the interesting way that their new museum in Stockholm connects interactive exhibits so that visitors can save and share to social media their experiences.

I visited Abba The Museum and interviewed CEO Mattias Hansson in early April, researching an article for Eye for Travel -- Mamma Mia: Look What Happens When a Museum Harnesses Social Media. At the time the museum was still in construction but already it was clear that this is going to be a cutting edge development and an inspiration for other museums and attractions.

Inside the museum there are many interactive exhibits. You can record your own version of an Abba hit, singing along with a backing track in a replica of the original Polar Studios in Stockholm, long since closed and now a gym. You also remix Abba songs using digital copies of the original 24 track tapes, though you will probably find it hard to outdo the classic version by producer/engineer Michael B Tretow. You can also dance on a stage with life-size animated images of the group thanks to a Musion Eyeliner stage illusion, the same famously used to resurrect rapper Tupac Shakur at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. There are many more interactive exhibits, some digital, some physical.

Where Abba The Museum is different is that the audio and video clips of these performances are saved to a temporary personal page on the museum website. Later you can access that page using your ticket ID and either save or share them to social media using conventional sharing buttons. This simple, effective approach means that the museum gives you access to your media clips without requiring any connection to social media site APIs and without any need for authentication to access visitor social media accounts. After a short time -- different sources have given me different numbers -- the temporary pages are automatically deleted so if you just want to try the exhibits and don't want to save or share you don't need to think about it.

This approach to saving and sharing is popular with visitors who are old enough to share their lives to social media and young enough to want to do it. But it also benefits the museum because every share is another free advertisement -- much better than a banner and better than any paid "native" advertising. Since it is also possible to retrofit this technology to existing exhibits -- many of the Abba exhibits have been shown in the past without this feature -- it's likely that the idea will soon be adopted by other museums, exhibits, attractions and much more.

On a roller coaster, for example, you could equip the ride with video cameras so that when you board you present a bar-coded ticket to a scanner then a short video showing your reactions can be saved to a temporary web page for sharing later. Multiple rides could also be connected together to add a new dimension of gamification, allowing users to win a "badge" for sampling many attractions and then share this badge to Facebook. A gym could add bar code scanners to equipment and allow customers to share what they have achieved, golf courses could allow players to share their scores and much more.

Abba The Museum is going to be one of the case studies in my social media course this year and in the months before the 2013 course starts I will be watching for new examples to mention, so if you implement any scheme like this please get in touch. Meantime if you'd like to see Abba The Museum yourself you can book a slot on the museum website -- everyone books a slot time so that there are no lines.


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For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing on this and other topics related to communication visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81 (France) or 0046 730 894 475 (Sweden).

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