Social media is at heart about relationships and communication, about creating a community of people with similar interests. That is precisely the kind of community that can truly benefit an historic site.
People generally choose to visit a public history site because it is something that they are interested in. Ok, that sounds painfully obvious, and it is. But people also tend to use their social media in ways that further their interests. Obviously there is a chance for some synergy.
A well-curated Facebook page or Twitter feed will draw people into a relationship with an historic site. The Facebook page of the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum is a great example of how this is done well.
Through a variety of posts, some historical and some event-driven, the Truman Library & Museum maintains a regular presence in its followers’ feeds and gives them a lot of things to “like” – thus expanding the page’s reach. Followers are given a good idea of what the Library is up to, as well as some familiarity with the staff – the faces behind the exhibits and events.
Through this thoughtful use of Facebook, a Presidential Library creates a community that is invested in it.
The Poppy Effect
An invested community will result in increased visitation. To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of WWI in 2014, the Tower of London hosted The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Installation. One blood-red poppy for every Allied casualty of the war was planted in the moat of the Tower over the course of the summer.
Historic Royal Palaces, the government entity that oversees the Tower, did a masterful job of using social media to publicize and maintain interest in the ongoing event. The installation and the social media campaign helped to increase visitation to all UK tourist sites in 2014.
And that's important considering that visitation is relied upon to help keep historic sites afloat. Embracing the future – via a strong web and social media presence – is a key element to keeping history alive.
What are your favorite historic sites? Do you interact with them on social media? How could they do a better job of reaching out? Let me know in the comments!
IMAGE CREDIT: KETRIN1407
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