A Closer Look At Why LACMA’s Snapchat Was So Successful


If you haven’t already heard the buzz, it might surprise you to learn that the brand on Snapchat everyone’s been talking about is an art museum (Snapchat: lacma_museum). The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been receiving enthusiastic press for its snaps featuring artworks from its collection. Doesn’t sound like much to talk about? Think again. The museum has captioned the art pieces with humorous quotations and lines from popular culture, and they’re spot-on.



The statue above is Auguste  Rodin’s “The Shade,” and the caption refers to a well-known dance move from Beyonce’s hit music video “Single Ladies” (also shown above).

The art museum has seen such high success for two main reasons:

1. It knows its audience. And they’re young. 43% of 12- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat at least once a day, according to one study. LACMA has been successful by publishing images of their art collection paired funny references to current youth culture, such as captioning a Caravaggio dinner table scene with “You can’t sit with us,” an often-quoted line from the 2004 Millennial cult-classic Mean Girls.


2. It is clever. There’s no way around it: young audiences appreciate good, fresh content. The appreciate the fact that the art museum is shedding its stuffy reputation and not taking itself too seriously. Teens don’t like to feel marketed to, and with these snaps they don’t. The snaps show artwork but aren’t preachy and don’t try to be serious. They don’t ask their audience to do anything, and they don’t try to sell anything. They’ve recognized the value of the entertainment-factor to their audiences, and the museum is growing its brand and creating a positive image for itself by generating a laugh.

What’s important is that LACMA has recognized that just as important as a concrete ROI and generating sales is its brand perception, and how much people like it — something much more difficult to measure. By using Snapchat in a way that caters to its young and humor-appreciating audience, LACMA was able to create conversation around itself, and a positive, with-the-times image.

As the social networking/instant messaging hybrid platform Snapchat continues to grow and gain a broader user base, high-quality content that is not direct marketing will be even more important in order to connect with the notoriously hard-to-reach teen demographic that dominates it.

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