The Getty Museum Challenge: A Social Media Campaign Inspiring Re-creations of Masterpieces

Examples of #thegettychallenge re-creations.

Bringing people together through art. Based in Los Angeles, working globally,” is the running bio description throughout all of their social media platforms and is a testament to their dedication to art education and awareness (Getty, 2020). Due to the nature of the current pandemic, the J. Paul Getty museum needed to find a way to engage and promote their artwork and educational services from their physical location to online. Over a series of months, they were able to inspire the nation with a timely social media challenge that utilized their vast digital art gallery, without setting foot in the museum. The Getty Museum was able to increase their outreach using social media to promote their online campaign.

The Getty Museum’s social media challenge, #gettymuseumchallenge, was initially inspired by the Instagram user Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine. Based in Amsterdam, this Instagram page began re-creating artwork at home, as a means of entertainment during her time in quarantine. The Getty repurposed this idea, while crediting the original source, to bring awareness to the vast library of artwork specific to their museum. This challenge encourages participants to use their favorite works of art as inspiration to create their own versions. The Getty staff wanted to increase the online presence of the museum by focusing on social media initiatives that created conversations or garnered participation from their audience. The museum’s goal was to publish “uplifting, inspirational” content while focusing on “creating community through art” (Potts, 2020). They were able to achieve this goal by focusing their efforts through their social media campaign, bringing the community together with this entertaining and imaginative challenge.

Campaign

On March 25th, 2020, the Getty museum announced their version of the quarantine art challenge through their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages (The Getty Museum, 2020). The format of the posts were all identical and laid out a few simple rules: choose your favorite artwork, find three things lying around the house, re-create the artwork, and share it with the museum. Participants were instructed to visit the Getty’s virtual archive of artwork and choose from their favorite artists to replicate their work. The simplicity of the challenge rules, combined with the endless possibilities for replication, made this an appealing activity for people stuck at home to participate in. There was a high degree of user-engagement with this social media challenge; it brought traffic to the museum’s website and encouraged followers to share their recreations.

The Getty Museum has a wide target audience with a broad range of demographics, all centered around education or a love for art. According to the J. Paul Getty Museum’s official website:

Getty is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy…serving both the general interested public and a wide range of professional communities in order to promote a vital civil society through an understanding of the visual arts. (Getty, 2020)

Centered in the Los Angeles area, many young educated adults, families with children, and art connoisseurs fall under their audience. For this social media campaign, the Getty focused their outreach towards their online audience, those who follow the museum’s social media platforms and may not be their typical museum-goer. The challenge invited anyone from anywhere to participate, broadening their audience to anyone with access to the internet. This challenge was a perfect match for art lovers young and old and gave anyone the ability to engage with the museum. It did not require any special tools, traveling, or expertise; only the creativity and imagination of the participant, along with the Getty’s library reference of artwork.

Image 1: Comparison of Campaign Introduction on the Getty’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

After the initial challenge announcement, the Getty started posting and sharing user-generated content to promote their campaign. User-generated content allows brands and companies access to costless material that help promote their brand authenticity and create a stronger relationship with their audience. As this is a photo-based challenge, all posts incorporated at least one photo of a re-creation and often included a link to the Getty’s blog or online artwork library. The images chosen served as inspiration for followers and included captions that encouraged more user-generated content to be created. While most posts were copy and pasted from each platform, the way they received engagement from their followers differed with each interface.

Figure 1: Comparison of followers on the Getty’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Twitter

On Twitter, the Getty has over 1.3 million followers, making it their most followed social media channel. Around 44% of U.S. Twitter users are adults between the ages of 18 and 24, meeting a specific portion of the Getty’s young and educated target audience (Cooper, 2019). The tweet that first introduced the challenge received the most engagement of the entire campaign: 26,700 likes, 14,500 retweets, and 4,900 replies in total. The Getty used Twitter threads to stack user-generated content onto their introductory tweet, extending the value of the tweet after it was published. On most tweets, the Getty also included links to their digital art collection so followers could view the original artworks that the content was inspired by (Image 2). The social media team was also able to utilize Twitter to directly interact with their followers through @replies, often commenting on photo re-creations tweeted to the museum. However, engagement on Twitter declined heavily after the first few weeks of the challenge. This can be contributed to the way the platform works. With the lifespan of a tweet being around 15 to 20 minutes, it can be easy for posts to be buried among the Twitter stream and yield less interaction with followers (Wilson, 2019).

Image 2: Adding a link to the work of art with re-creation on Twitter.
Figure 2: Post engagement on Twitter in relation to #gettymuseumchallenge.

Instagram

The Getty’s Instagram profile is their second most popular social media channel, with over 530,000 followers. Instagram is a photo-centric platform, making it ideal to use for a challenge that is based on the creation of photo content. Instagram’s largest demographic includes users between the ages of 18 and 34, reaching young single adults and adults with families (Chen, 2020). The type of content posted on Instagram for this campaign consisted of swipe-able carousels featuring user-generated photos. Once again, the photos posted acted as inspiration for followers with a call-to-action; find a work of art, re-create it, and tag the museum’s Instagram. The Getty also highlighted art re-creations dedicated to specific background stories, with captions offering insight behind their conception.

Even though Getty posted less on Instagram, compared to the other platforms, it received the most consistent engagement. The quantity of likes stands out; most exceeding 10,000 likes per post, as seen in Figure 1. Instagram is based primarily on the visuals, with direct follower engagement being limited to likes and comments. The Getty team did not interact with followers as directly or often as on other platforms. However, there is a significant amount of user-generated content found on Instagram when searching through the hashtag #gettymuseumchallenge. While there are a few hashtags associated with the challenge, the hashtag #gettymuseumchallenge alone has been used over 51,000 times by users who have posted their own re-creations on their social media profiles (Image 3).

Image 3: Search results for #gettymuseumchallenge on Instagram.
Figure 3: Post engagement on Instagram

Facebook

Facebook has one of the largest user percentages among social networks, with 71% of American adults using the platform (Newberry, 2020). Yet, Facebook is the Getty Museum’s least followed social media account, with just over 361,000 followers. The type of content published on Facebook was primarily photos of re-creations and links to the Getty blog website. When compared to Twitter and Instagram, it received the least amount of campaign engagement with under 30,000 hits overall, as calculated by collected data. Figure 4 details the decrease in engagement since the initial post in March. However, what Facebook lacks in quantity, it makes up with quality. Followers were able to directly reply to the Getty’s Facebook posts with their artistic recreations through the comment section. This allows users to engage directly with the Getty’s staff and showcase their recreations to a broader public audience. The museum then began compiling some of the user-generated content sent to them in a digital album for public viewing. The Facebook album was sporadically updated with additional photos and acted as official posts, reiterating the challenge throughout the months (Image 4).

Image 4: Example of Facebook photo album.
Figure 4: Post engagement on Facebook.

Reddit

The challenge became so popular, a Reddit community page was created by a group of random citizens (Image 5). The purpose of the Reddit page; to allow people to openly share photos they created for the #gettymuseumchallenge or share photos they favored the most. In this Reddit group alone, r/GettyMuseumChallenge, there are 17,500 members and over 600 individual subreddits containing user-generated content. This is a strong example of the ability for a campaign to reach new audiences without putting in any additional time or effort. The Getty is not officially associated with Reddit but the challenge was still able to transcend to another social media platform and reach a wider community of art enthusiasts.

Image 5: Screenshot of Reddit community page

Results

The Getty’s social media campaign was successful in attracting large amounts of media attention and public participation. It was able to piggy-back off of an existing social media challenge while highlighting and bringing attention to their business of art and education. When asked about the volume of submissions the museum received for the challenge, a Getty representative remarked that, “they keep coming! More than 100 a day…” (Grinevičius & Keturka, 2020). While most of the posts were copied across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Getty was able to repurpose their content specific to the needs of the platform. With an exception of Instagram, the posts with the most engagement were the initial introduction posts explaining the challenge. Regardless of the measurable engagement on the Getty’s social media platforms, the amount of individual user-generated content created from this challenge is immense.

Front cover of “Off the Walls: Inspired Re-Creations of Iconic Artworks”

The museum received so many individual submissions and replies to their challenge, they were able to bring together a collection of the user-generated content to create a book filled with re-created artworks. Off the Walls: Inspired Re-Creations of Iconic Artworks was published by Getty Publications in July for public purchase, a few short months after the challenge was started. They used their social media pages to source photos, announce, and promote the book to their followers. This is a distinguishable success because they were able to use the results of their social media engagement to create a sellable book, without any of the startup costs generally associated with producing and selling published media. The profits of the sales were donated to Artis Relief, a charity that supports artists with financial difficulties during the pandemic (Stephan & Warldorf, 2020).

The #gettymuseumchallenge is a great example of a successful social media campaign that took an idea and made it work for their own means. The museum was able to create an interactive social media challenge that captivated audiences and influenced community and national participation. It also garnered a large quantity of press coverage, local and national. With more than 100,000 submissions posted onto social media, it is hard to determine just how much content was created by the community (Stephan & Warldorf, 2020). A museum representative explained, “The online challenge has reached many people around the world who may not be in a position to visit Los Angeles or Getty. We hope they’ll be inspired to come when they get a chance.” (Grinevičius & Keturka, 2020)

Conclusion

The Getty was able to take advantage of user-generated content to promote their collection of artwork and engage their audience online. With such a successful campaign, the museum could begin a series of smaller challenges of similar qualities to continue their efforts to educate and bring attention to famous art collection. The Getty has a foundation in education and could create a program or curriculum around this challenge to teach younger generations about famous and esteemed artists. The “hands-on” approach with the #gettymuseumchallenge could lay the foundation for more activities that incorporate their art collection. Additionally, depending on the success of the first book, there is also the possibility of publishing a second book filled with public re-creations as an educational tool for the museum and schools.

Moving forward, the #gettymuseumchallenge has the potential to continue to thrive as a long-standing social media campaign. The Getty could continue to use the content generated by the public in new ways to gain additional traction for the museum. At the moment, the museum is still closed but a gallery exhibit could be conceptualized, showcasing larger quantities of re-creations, those unable to be included in the book publication. A gallery of user-generated content would encourage visitors to the museum when it did eventually open again. In fact, the French museum, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, has already curated an exhibition showcasing recreated photos and their original inspirational artworks, side by side (tussenkunstenquarantaine, 2020). This proves an exhibit of this type is plausible and it can be used with the Getty’s own collection once it reopens.

When looking at the #gettymuseumchallenge and evaluating its success, there are some big takeaways. Social media campaigns are best able to reach mass audiences when they are able to connect with a broad user base. It is important to create an inclusive, engaging, and creative challenge. An audience needs to be inspired to participate in challenges in order to generate organic content for the purposes of campaign use, as seen with the Getty challenge. It can also be concluded that the amount of followers the Getty had did not directly determine the amount of participation with this particular campaign. It was such a unique and universal challenge, the amount of participation and user-generated content created surpassed their target audience. If done effectively, social media campaign messages can become widespread and attract new audiences. People who may have never heard or visited the Museum before now relate the Getty to this viral social media challenge, giving even an established museum more distinction.

References

Chen, J. (2020, August 5). Important Instagram stats you need to know for 2020. Sprout Social. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/

Cooper, P. (2019, December 17). 25 Twitter Statistics All Marketers Should Know in 2020. Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard. https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-statistics/

Getty. (2020). Resources for Visual Art and Cultural Heritage. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.getty.edu/about/

Museums Ask People To Recreate Famous Paintings At Home, Get 30 More Hilarious Pics [Interview by 987448574 763861780 J. Grinevičius & 987448575 763861780 J. Keturka]. (2020, May). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.boredpanda.com/art-recreation-at-home-getty-museum-challenge/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

Newberry, C. (2020, July 19). 33 Facebook Stats Marketers That Matter to Marketers in 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics/

Potts, T. (2020). The J. Paul Getty Museum during the coronavirus crisis. Museum Management and Curatorship, 35(3), 217–220. doi:10.1080/09647775.2020.1762360

Stephan, A., & Warldorf, S. (2020, August 12). The Getty Museum Challenge Is Now a Book. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/the-getty-museum-challenge-is-now-a-book/

The Getty Museum. (2020, March 25). Campaign Introduction Facebook Post [Screenshot]. https://www.facebook.com/gettymuseum/posts/10158231504365097

The Getty Museum. (2020, March 25). Campaign Introduction Instagram Post [Screenshot]. https://www.instagram.com/p/B-Kcv77HdTA/

The Getty Museum. (2020, March 25). Campaign Introduction Twitter Post [Screenshot]. https://twitter.com/GettyMuseum/status/1242845952974544896

Tussenkunstenquarantaine. (2020, October 15). Media & goals — @tussenkunstenquarantaine [Instagram Stories]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17850079831973845/?hl=en

Wilson, C. (2019, May 09). Updated: Lifespan of a Social Media Post. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://mtomconsulting.com/updated-lifespan-of-a-social-media-post/

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University of Florida Graduate Certificate Program, Social Media.

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Lisa Romero

Lisa Romero

University of Florida Graduate Certificate Program, Social Media.

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