Museums do not only engage visitors in the physical space anymore. It has extended into the digital realm. Visitors are able to participate before and after their visit. They have become more participators or partners of the museum. Museums are growing and becoming more as social hubs and communities.
In 2008, Forrester Research released a “social technographics” profile tool to help businesses understand the way different audiences engage with social media online. Forrester suggests six categories that online audiences fit into based on activity. The categories are the following: creators, they produce and upload content in the form of blogs, videos, and web pages; critics, this group comments on social media sites as well as post ratings and reviews; collectors, who organize links and form content for absorption; joiners, those who have created and continue to use profiles on social networking sites; spectators, they observe by reading, watching, listening and visiting information on social sites; Finally, the inactives, this group does not participate in any of the listed activities. These categories are not black and white, they are grey and blurred with many people belonging to several categories at once. Users shift between these categories depending on demographics, social and personal circumstances, and comfort.
Museums have started to use blogs as a way for visitors to reflect on their museum experience. Visitors are able to discuss with other visitors, and sometimes museum staff, about certain topics, themes, and questions. It is also a way for museums to keep visitors up-to-date with what is new and reveal some behind-the-scenes information. Tumblr, is one such blog, or digital tool, museums have started to use. Tumblr lets its users customize and share everything. It is a fine example that incorporates the different participatory categories previously discussed. Users are able to create and publish blogs, blending pictures, text, audio, and videos into each post. Personal blogs are able to be customized and ‘designed’ to reflect the personality and philosophy of the blogger. Tumblr’s dashboard, or personal homepage, reflects and displays other blogs users follow based on personal interests and hobbies. Published posts are organized by user tags. This folksonomy of organization makes it easy for users to search and navigate. It allows for easy access to content and the ability to follow and reblog your favorite blog posts. Users are able to like, share, and comment on different blog posts, both on tumblr and other social media sites. Users have the option to belong to all these categories, even if they are not a part of the tumblr community, just casual observers.