Our mission to reach out across the state to nearly 1,000 cultural heritage institutions has compelled me to drag myself into the 21st century (only a little over a decade late). Other statewide field service professionals have convinced me that social media is an effective way to build communities. So, I’m learning about Facebook, and we’ve started this blog to try and distribute helpful information and generate discussion amongst our C2C constituents as broadly as possible. North Carolina’s Historic Sites often use Facebook as a way to promote their individual locations as well as connect with a dispersed audience. For instance, Reed Gold Mine posts a quote each day about gold on its Facebook Page. Not all institutions need be quite so active, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your audience engaged by posting 2-3 times each week.
Here are some tips I’ve learned from a workshop I attended by NC Historic Sites social media experts, especially Andrew Duppstadt and Marion Inabinett, backed up by some suggestions from a recent National Trust for Historic Preservation blog posting (http://historicsites.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/social-media-training-for-historic-sites/).
- Your site is participating in social media, whether you want to participate or not, so you might as well manage it to your advantage. For example, Filoli (a National Trust for Historic Preservation Site) hasn’t created a Facebook Page but four other people have. That means other people are now controlling the site’s image, message, and brand in a place with 500 million active users.
- Do an internet search for your site and try to “claim” any extant webpages for your site as an administrator.
- Consider setting up a Facebook Page if your site does not have its own website. You can add, change, and update as necessary. It’s a nimble promotional tool. Once your Page has 25 Followers, you can claim a Username, which then allows you to have a Facebook URL (website address) and makes it easy for non-Facebook users to find your site.
- Sites and organizations need to have Pages not Profiles in Facebook. Facebook can terminate your account without notice if they catch you, and you’ll lose all of your content and connections. How can you tell the difference? Profiles are for people and have Friends. Pages are for organizations and have Likes (formerly Fans).
- Various social media sites allow you to measure the impact of your work. Many provide analytics, although it may be not easy to determine at first. Click on the “insights” section in Facebook to find page statistics. Try using Klout to score your overall influence.
- Send updates from your Page to your Followers. When a Page sends a Page Update, it is received as a message on Followers’ Profiles. A Page Administrator Sends an Update by clicking on “Edit Page”, “Resources” (on the left), then “Send an Update.”
If you already have a profile on Facebook and use it regularly, then setting up a page for your institution will not be difficult. But if, like me, you’ve resisted jumping on board the Facebook bandwagon, then getting used to the system will take some time. Luckily, we won’t have to search too far to find Facebook experts to guide us. Social media tools hold great promise to grow audiences in order to make our cultural heritage organizations ever more relevant to our communities.
Posted on August 26, 2011, in collections access, historic sites, museum governance, public programs and tagged Andrew Duppstadt, Facebook, Marion Inabinett, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Reed Gold Mine. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.