When myself and my colleague, Julianne, set out to share best practice for social media in heritage, we had no idea how popular it would be. I work at Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh and have been managing the social media accounts for the Museums since their inception. Similarly, Julianne has been working with Dig It! 2017 (formally Dig It! 2015), managing their communications and social media. In both our roles we are extremely fortunate to work with fantastic individuals, organisations and collections.
With the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group, we realised there was a gap in the sector, with individuals in similar roles not networking and learning from each other effectively. Both Julianne and myself had extensive experience with working in marketing, comms and social media and we wanted to share our knowledge and learn from others. When we launched SHSMG in March 2016, we set out to share this knowledge, taking the conversation offline and meeting up with people in real life.
Our first meet-up in Edinburgh was a great success. We saw many attendees from across the sector come along and discuss the ins and outs of social media, what people found useful, what worked and what didn’t. As most of us were voices of institutions, places of history, museums and projects, we discussed the pitfalls of managing content online and what platforms worked best for us. We have since hosted a further five meet-ups in Edinburgh and in Glasgow.
I am responsible for sharing for sharing content at Surgeons’ Hall Museums on our social media platforms. This content can range from current up to date information on our temporary exhibitions and upcoming events. In addition to this, I also share content from our collection. This content looks at our collection, highlighting key items, such as medical instruments, items with historic significance, and key specimens from the museum collections. Being responsible for social media at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, means I have to take care to ensure the content is appropriate for the web and is always displayed in a respectful and informative context, as I am regularly dealing with content surrounding human remains. In contrast I can also share historical facts, affectionately coined with the hashtag #SHMFacts, which allows me to tie the historic facts to the collections of the museums.
Julianne, at Dig It! 2017, utilises social media to share all of the archaeology events, discoveries and updates that happen across Scotland. Julianne and Dig It! 2017 believe that archaeology is for everyone , so it comes down to making it more accessible and this includes using social media. The content Julianne creates sticks to bright colours and lots of images, and the content is shared with a fun and excited tone. Through outreach, Dig It! 2017 have also branched out to mediums like Minecraft and YouTube, so instead of forcing archaeology on a new online audience, Dig It! 2017 goes to them. Julianne works with hundreds (literally hundreds) of partners to ensure they are well represented on social media, all the while sticking with the Dig It! 2017 brand.
Social media and the #ScotlandinSix hashtag were key to Dig It! 2017’s promotion of World Heritage Day, which included a Romans vs Picts 5K race at the Antonine Wall. Photo by Neil Hanna
Together we share content for the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group. We take it in turns to promote best practice through the account (I do odd days, Julianne does evens), highlighting relevant hashtags that our followers may be interested in, encouraging people to share content relevant with to their collections. We have recently started a blog, asking individuals to write about how they use social media to maximise interaction with their followers. So far, we’ve heard from Scotswummin and ScotlandsPlaces, with many more lined up over the next few months. We hope that by engaging with people online and their institutions and collections, we can open up a strong networking group that shares best practice across the entire heritage sector.
David McLeod is the Marketing and Visitor Services Officer at Surgeons’ Hall Museums and Julianne McGraw is the Communications Officer with Dig It! 2017. They run the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group together. If you fancy writing a blog for them, please get in touch.