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Social media experimentation key to online success, says man who caught Elon Musk's eye with world-famous 'Absolute Unit'

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You can have all the social media skills and you can understand your institution, but if you don’t have that spark then it will always fall flat. Creativity and a willingness to react is key

Adam Koszary, the man behind the Museum of English Rural Life's (MERL) social media channels, has urged other museums to experiment with their platforms if they want to have similar online success.

Koszary was responsible for the museum in Reading, UK, increasing its following on Twitter 9,700 to more than 134,000 in the last year, following a social media adventure featuring a host of farmyard animals, an entertaining encounter with JK Rowling and a social rivalry with Elon Musk.

Managing MERL's tweets since early in 2016, it wasn't until 9 April 2018 that things really started to take off, for Koszary and the museum.

That day – international unicorn day – while looking for a picture of anything that resembled a unicorn amongst the museum's collection of 40,000 social media approved images, Koszary posted an image of a huge Exmoor Horn aged ram, with the caption "look at this absolute unit". Soon after, the museum found itself trending worldwide on Twitter, with Koszary riding a wave of social momentum to engage MERL with a completely new audience in a way the museum hadn't seen before.

Among his achievements, he engaged with Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who called an amusing thread about a drawing of a chicken in trousers "truly wonderful", sharing it with her 15 million followers. A few months later, Koszary would message the British Museum, asking for its best picture of a duck, cueing a barrage of weird and wonderful duck pictures from major museums all over the world.

In April 2019, Elon Musk changed his Twitter profile picture to that of the Exmoor Horn ram, telling his 25 million followers that "Universe is big, but rendering complexity is not, but I'm just a simple sheep/ram". Koszary's response was to rename the MERL account as the Muskeum of Elongish Rural Life, and change the picture to one of Musk himself, retorting "two can play at that game".

Because of this success, and his interaction's with Musk, Koszary now has a new job – as social media manager at Tesla. Prior to his departure, he gave advice to anyone wanting to replicate his social media successes.

"All of this has been reacting to something and jumping on a story," he said, speaking to Attractions Management. "We have hundreds of things which could be stories but we only have so much time in the day, so we take the ones which appear to have the most value and share them with the world.

"You can have all the social media skills and you can understand your institution, but if you don’t have that spark then it will always fall flat. Creativity and a willingness to react is key.

"Because we’ve done something with the MERL, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone else.

"Give up 'the fear' and experiment all the time. Focus on what makes your museum unique."

To hear more from Adam Koszary, see the Q2 edition of of Attractions Management, available now.

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Adam Koszary, the man behind the Museum of English Rural Life's (MERL) social media channels, has urged other museums to experiment with their platforms if they want to have similar online success. Koszary was responsible for the museum in Reading, UK, increasing its following on Twitter 9,700 to more than 134,000 in the last year, following a social media adventure featuring a host of farmyard animals, an entertaining encounter with
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This image of an 'absolute unit' was the start of MERL's social media surge through 2018 and 2019

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