Meet the five Shortlisted entries for the Digital Inclusion category in the 2023 Digital Culture Awards, which celebrates innovative use of social media platforms to reach, grow and engage with new and existing audiences.

The Winner of this category is chosen by a public vote. Voting closed on Monday 20 March, and the Winners will be announced at the Digital Culture Awards ceremony on Wednesday 29 March.

The Shortlist

Please note that the content on these pages was submitted as part of the entry process, and contains content produced by the entrants.

1. Crab Museum – Creating a Radical and Unhinged Social Media Strategy for a Very Real Museum

Crab Museum’s social media presence is a deliberately eccentric and surreal blend of natural science, politics and memes. Its ethos reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the physical museum.

A large teddy bear is slouched in the back area of a rubbish truck. Above the teddy a caption reads "a museum  that focuses on invertabrates". Next to the teddy is a caption that reads "things with spines lol".
Original Caption: “Look here crab gang, we don’t want to throw any organisms with spines into the metaphorical bin of scientific study – but let’s just pause a moment and consider the wider world. There has been disproportionate study into mammals, despite them making up a mere 0.2% of the total animal population of the world. Human morality has a big part to play in this, and as a species we’re very much taken by animals that are a little bit more like us. We care about them, but don’t care about the ones that don’t have big cute eyes, floofy tails or smol hands etc. Our attraction to cute animals is serious, it has had widespread effects on ethical regulations regarding fish for example, and also crabs, which only received recognition of their sentience in UK law this year. There are interactions between public opinion and scientific study on many levels which also translates into attention spent by policy makers around the world. Everytime we hear about how amazing mammals are (and they really do be), we seek to learn even more. In terms of funding for research, this is often at the expense of studying ‘lower’ life forms. A paper in the journal Animals suggests how popular culture contributes to this using the example of Finding Nemo. Clown “fish are protandrous hermaphrodites, which means that a family inhabiting an anemone is led by an adult female, and an adult male. If the female is lost (as in the movie), the male changes sex and becomes the dominant female, and the oldest immature fish (in this case, Nemo) becomes the male.” In the film they represent Nemo as an adolescent boy, minimising the incredible complexity of marine life, and indirectly limiting our potential understanding of nature. We need to start caring about all animals, and representing them more truthfully in media. It’s a hard thing to do, because humans are hard-wired to anthropomorphise the world around us but we really should try harder. That mission starts with young people and children, and is part of our key mission at the Museum to promote the diversity and beauty of the under-crab.”
A graphic image with an abstract colourful background. A photo of an orange crab is in the centre. Above the crab the word "Winner" appears. Below the crab is a poll with two answers. 1. The Ghost Crab (204 votes). 2. The Sponge Hat Crab (322 votes).
Original Caption: “Announcing the winner of The Crab Cup 2022! Congratulations to the Sponge Hat Crab! Thanks to everyone for taking part!” The winner of our first Crab Cup competition saw approximately 15,000 votes placed via Instagram polls. Users would vote on Crabs in knock-out rounds to run concurrently with the men’s World Cup – whilst also highlighting corruption and human rights abuses by Qatar and multinational corporations.
A photograph of a crab situated infront of a black background. There are captions above and below the crab, but the text appears backwards, as if reflected in a mirror. The text reads "How does it feel to be the meme for once you stupid human?"
Original Caption: “Sometimes it really do be. P.C:”
A graphic showing two images with captions next to them. Top image shows a large industrial ship, used for coal mining. Top text reads "Stop vibing on this. Bottom image shows a drawing of a large majestic crab leading hundreds of smaller crabs across a beach, as if to battle. Bottom text reads "And start vibing on whatever this is".
Original Caption: “As many of you will be aware, the government recently approved the UKs first new coal mine in 30 years. This is obviously daft, and cements this government’s reputation on the world’s stage for backwards thinking, foot dragging and absence of political will. Extracting coal in the UK will not reduce our reliance or provide energy security from global energy markets. Firstly, these prices are determined by nebulous neo-liberal forces currently outside of national control, and secondly, the mine will produce coal for the steel industry. From the perspective of crabs this is also rubbish, as the coal will be extracted from beneath the Irish Sea, home to a wildly diverse ecosystem of animals millions of years in the making. The standard this sets across the globe works to undermine efforts to move toward renewables. We have a moral duty in this country, as the inheritors of the emissions of the industrial revolution and extractive practices of colonialism, to do better. Not just by those alive now, but those who will come after. Of course it’s complicated, it’ll probably be expensive and hard too, but with so many billionaires in the world, it shouldn’t be normal people footing the bill. Britain sells its history in the form of Hogwarts and The Peaky Blinders, looking back through rose-tinted pearlescent Steampunk goggles at an age of imagined glory. But perhaps it’s time to start looking forward with an appreciation that we exist on a living planet. We live alongside the natural world, not in spite of it, or in defiance of its collapse. Fossil fuel emitting projects have been stopped before, the Cambo oil field is on pause, and so too is Rosebank – with support – this can be stopped too. There are alternatives, but perhaps this government isn’t able to see beyond their wood paneled dining rooms to see it.”
A graphic featuring a photograph of a bright orange crab, overlayed of a black and white faded photograph of large explosion. Text above and below the crab reads "Answer the philosophy crab".
Original Caption: “I am the Philosophy crab. Usually I respond to your questions, but in this grave international emergency I have decided it is I who needs answers. You see, something about you humans is very confusing. How is it that you view some types of violence as legitimate, and others not? What kind of calculations do you use to work that out? And are you even aware you are making such decisions? Watching the news in my burrow, I think most sensible observers would condemn Putin’s actions. And similarly support Ukraine’s resistance. I feel the same way. Ukraine thus provides an example of “legitimate” violence: fighting back in self-defence against an invader. But it is curious how not all forms of self-defence are considered legitimate. Few people would accept violence against the CEOs of oil companies as legitimate for instance, but that too can be quite easily viewed through the prism of self-defence. Because even including war with Russia, climate change remains the gravest and most immediate threat to our planet. And one that I am particularly worried about, as I am a crab. The Russian invasion imperils the Ukrainian state and endangers Western hegemony. But on the other hand climate change threatens all human civilisation and life on this planet as we know it. One of these problems is appropriate to tackle with violence, the other is not. What gives, humans? The answer of course lies with the nation state, which as Max Weber argued in 1919 must hold a monopoly on “legitimate violence”. But this old-fashioned political model prioritises the survival of the nation above all else, including that of the planet. Now I hope Putin fails in his schemes and I wish the Ukrainians every success. But with talk of war everywhere and the looming prospect of escalation I ask you again – what makes violence legitimate? And if it is ever legitimate, at what stage of ecological collapse will violence be acceptable against those who continue to poison the Earth? We must all have our own answers to these questions. *The opinions and rhetorical questioning of the Philosophy crab are her own and do not necessarily reflect that of Crab Museum*”

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2. National Theatre – Engaging TheatreTok Fandoms at the National Theatre

In the last 6 months of 2022, we grew the National Theatre’s TikTok by astonishing numbers with a strategy focused on engaging youth audiences and international followers.

  • 30m video views
  • 4.3m engagements
  • 173k net audience growth to reach a total of 250k followers

Download a PDF which provides an overview of National Theatre TikTok activity in 2022.

National Theatre TikTok Review of 2022 | Digital Culture Awards
A graphic featuring 3 mobile phone screens in a row. Each of them shows a screenshot of a TikTok video. From left to right: 1. A man in Shakespeare era clothing on stage. Caption text "You're a good fellow Salieri". 2.  A young woman wearing a tracksuit and sunglasses dances in a bedroom. Caption text "I want to act in your plays, can you make that happen?". 3. A young woman with red curly hair stares wide-eyed at young man in front of her. Caption text: “I’m finally 16!”.
National Theatre – Digital Culture Awards TikTok Trio

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3. National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Empowering Young People to Takeover – New Social Strategy at National Youth Theatre

In 2022 we pivoted our social media strategy at National Youth Theatre from created slick content with professionals and agencies, to a youth-led strategy championing authentic, funny and creative content celebrating our young talent’s work, made by our young social ambassador.

Youth Created Content

Below are links to examples of our youth-created authentic content that has reached large new audiences of young people on social media for our charity – connecting us with young people who didn’t know about our opportunities before


Here’s another beautiful moment from the Senior Course group sharings🕊 Do you want to audition to become an NYT member? Head over to the link in bio✨ #fyp #acting #theatre #backstage #nationalyouththeatre

♬ fourth of july – EX7STENCE™
TikTok showcasing young people’s puppetry and storytelling skills from one of our intake courses at Royal & Derngate, northampton, which has reached 7m + views across our platforms.
TikTok showcasing a song devised by young people as part of a Wagatha Christie sharing at our Epic Stages courses at Rose Bruford in Kent in summer 2022, 1 million views across platforms.

🎄You’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf… well Social Media ambassador, Lucas Heap wanted to show everyone the National Youth Theatre edition! How many of these did you guess!👀 Or do you have any others, comment below❄️ #nationalyouththeatre #mattsmith #mattlucas #chiwetelejiofor #rosamundpike & #hughbonneville #NYTALUM #fyp

♬ original sound – NYT
TikTok created by and starring NYT member and social media ambassadors Lucas Heap as part of our Christmas campaign in 2022, 15k views across platforms.

Go to the Instagram promotional video for our 2023 auditions – created by and featuring NYT member and social media ambassador Louis Jaffa – 150k views across platforms.

Go to the Instagram Reel created by social media ambassadors and NYT member Anjolie – promoting our upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing set on a reality romance tv show, 25k views across platforms.

An example of a reel introducing one of our 10 new social media ambassadors who are leading our content strategy to foreground authentic youth made content ahead of slick polished professional content.

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4. Shakespeare North Playhouse – The new theatre in town needs an audience

Fear and trepidation often arise when something new arrives on the scene. We built and connected with audiences by putting their queries and wants at the heart of our content. We harnessed our audience’s inquisitive nature and used their queries to lead content briefs.

A new strategy for a new theatre

Putting audience queries and wants at the heart of our content saw us reach and maintain high engagement levels of 23% on Instagram, 5 times the standard average for accounts a similar size. Since implementing our new social media strategy, we’ve seen a follower increase of:

  • 188% on Instagram
  • 90% on Twitter
  • 80% on Facebook

Our engagement rates are:

  • 23% on Instagram
  • 2.3% on Twitter
  • 13% on Facebook

A new strategy for new audiences

Our first major productions saw a staggering number of audience members who had never
stepped foot inside a theatre before.

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream 8%
  • A Christmas Carol 10.8%

22% of our audiences discovered us through social media.

Download the PDF which contains examples of Shakespeare North Playhouses social media strategy and content.

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5. Vagina Museum – The Vagina Museum enters the fediverse

In November 2022, the Vagina Museum began using Mastodon, an alternative microblogging platform. Within one week it had become the largest UK-based GLAM organisation in the “fediverse”, a network of connected servers including Mastodon.

Go to the Vagina Museum’s first posts on Mastodon: a thread about mastodon vaginas.

Go to the Vagina Museum’s Mastodon account

The Vagina Museum's profile on Mastodon.
The Vagina Museum’s profile on Mastodon.

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What next?

You’re invited to join us live for the Digital Culture Awards livestream on 29 March. Book your place at the awards livestream.

Head back to the main Awards page on our website to learn about the Shortlist in out other eight categories. Learn more about the Digital Culture Awards Shortlist.

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