When the pop culture website company Bored Panda first featured the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s social media posts, Seth Spillman felt excited for the coverage. But when he watched the number of followers continue to tick up, Spillman and other staff members knew they had a viral phenomenon on their hands.
“We had celebrity tweets from Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman and Toby Keith,” said Spillman, chief marketing and communications officer for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
The massive social media following originated in an unexpected place: the museum’s cowboy-hat-wearing security guard.
“About a week before we closed our doors, our marketing team got together and talked about what we might do to respond if we closed,” said Spillman. “We wanted to keep communication with people. Someone thought of reaching out to our security staff, since they are essential staff that would be in the building no matter what.”
Tim Tiller, the museum’s head of security, was tapped to take over the museum’s social media account during the pandemic shutdown. In his first post, he shared how he was new to social media and joked about his inexperience. He soon started using “#hashtag” to poke fun at his inexperience. Readers found his authenticity endearing.
“I don’t think we realized how much his voice was going to resonate with people,” said Spillman. “All of us have been thrown into a new reality with the pandemic. Tim is a light-hearted example of that.”
When Tiller took over social media, Spillman and other staff members worked with him to provide direction on what to post while allowing Tiller to keep his original voice in the post.
Once the national attention started, Spillman’s phone began to ring from news outlets all over, including NPR and the Wall Street Journal.
“People were rooting for him and still are,” said Spillman. “We have no intention of stopping Tim’s posts even though we are now open.”