Many archives and museums received the mandate: get out there, and get online! Be accessible! Generate content! Be Fun! Be Exciting! Be Popular! When Secretary Clough came onboard as Secretary of the Smithsonian in 2009, he gave staff the blessing to go online. But where do we begin? It’s up to us to figure it out, and the same is true across the museum culture and corporate world. There is a lack of guidance in the archival community. This presentation will identify the components of social media set up and success measurement, by going through the following slides (Read Table of Contents). My research and experience is based in the creation and management of The Smithsonian Collections Blog, and is supplemented with social media literature from the museum, archival and PR communities. A longer version of this presentation was presented in March at the Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Research in Progress Talk, and a prospectus has been accepted for publication by the Society of American Archivists.
Above is the traditional definition of Social Media. Romantically, social media and its mass-inspired movement has been referred to as: the ultimate democracy of information sharing, a people powered content evolution, and a PR Renaissance. Social media is different from a website’s static dictation of formalized information, because it is an organic platform where an archives can build and sustain a relationship with every one one of it’s visitors. As with any relationship, social media participation requires an archives’ presence and activity to be personable, interactive, and consistent. Archival content on social media platforms typically consist of highlighting collections, unveiling hidden treasures, informing and educating the public on collection projects, announcing new discoveries, and discussing professional issues. There are 492 Smithsonian entities with registered social media accounts across over a dozen different platforms. WHY? Why are there 492 Smithsonian social media accounts? Why the rush into the wild west of web-based interactions? With information being just a short Google search away, public expectation on access, use and interaction online have changed. The attitude that “if it’s not on the web, it doesn’t exist” is becoming more and more prevalent. Web 2.0 technology has evolved to enable and encourage the every-day person to review, interact, add, modify, improve, comment on, and share online content personally and professionally. Archives have slowly allowed this shift in internet behavior to change how we traditionally have interacted with visitors. Archives are beginning to join in social media platforms for a few reasons. 1. They’ve realized it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. 2. An increasing number (if not already a majority) of their visitors can now be found in a social media environment. And 3. Archives need to stay relevant by showing up, contributing and engaging in their fields as they exist virtually. Archivists are now responsible for taking a more active outreach role online. It is not enough to merely digitize the collections for access, we must now offer a way for visitors to interact with the collections and us as a result. My case study with the Smithsonian Collections Blog, is an experiment in this new universe of visitor expectations.
Historically, our primary motivation for getting content online was so it could be seen. For archivists, accessibility and diffusion is paramount, but social media has altered the status quo. In my research on social media, I found archivists think their only motivation for putting content in social media format was to gain audience insight. I find this view lop-sided as our primary role is a service role. Why we’re on social media is not in asking what our visitors can do for us, but what we can do for our visitors. We need to assess what priority content visitors may want, and determine how they want to learn and interact with the content. We must also remember that our primary role is one of customer service. As a good rule of thumb, an archives’ social media presence and interaction should be an extension of what they do in their physical capacity. Staff can do this by creating helpful how-to’s, videos, Q&A, and other easily digestible tid-bits about the profession or subject area. Content creation can seem daunting, but think of how much already exists as a product and can be reinvented for social media consumption. By reviewing traditional motivations, priorities and goals, I believe our social media mission can be stated as: gaining exposure for collections, engaging visitors, influencing community and inspiring action.
Now introducing the case study: Archives around the Smithsonian wanted to bring our collections and ourselves to our visitors in the social media world. We examined social media platforms that had proven themselves popular, yet not fleeting. Strategy in our selection was important because being on all forms of social platforms is both unnecessary and unsustainable. In looking at the top three forms: Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging we observed the following: Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that can spread news, information and opinions quickly in 140 characters or less. This is great if you can link to already existing content, but it discourages expansive creation and relies on people finding and following you to be effective in getting the word out. Facebook is a space where you can upload photos, invite people to events, share bookmarks, solicit feedback and engage in conversations. It’s also a space best utilized by already existing physical entities, with already existing communities. The people who are already interested in you will find you there. Blogging provides a narrative format that can share content in the form of text, photos and videos. The blogging community is not exclusive and lends itself to attracting new people through suggestions, higher Google rankings, and easy share-it-ability. Blogging can feed and nurture your existing community and attract new members. Blogs are a popular form because they can convey the museum’s personality in tone, content information, and branding. A blogging platform seemed the most appropriate for 16 aggregate voices across the Smithsonian to begin exposure of our collections, engagement of new and old visitors, influence our communities and professions, and inspire action. ***Point to Blog picture: branding, mission, content, contributors, related links. To SET UP the Smithsonian Collections Blog: I: led meetings to establish web content strategy initiatives and goals; I created and led content grooming, training, and provided motivation for content creators; I coordinated the schedule, analyzed analytics, and submitted reports to the members committee and upper management; and I nurtured collaboration with other Smithsonian blogs for campaign causes. Members: created web content standards, decided on what we would publish, and participated in operational discussions about resource planning and management, content management and technology.
Once an archives has defined its goals and identified its social media platform; its next step is to determine to how it will measure success. There is not a magical equation to measure success in social media. Measurement can vary from eye-balling the numbers to complete ROI analysis. For many archives and museums the right way is dependent upon the detailed level of the goals and the ability in which to measure. I argue that at the very least, you do a checkmark system measure against the social media mission. To do so, achievables, measurables and analytics come into play. Achievement factors to checkmark the Smithsonian Collections Blog are taken from our social media goal: Exposure: Is the content from the institution being published in a social media setting and receiving viewership? Engagement: Are people interacting and engaging with the content? Influence: Has the exposure and engagement influenced perceptions and attitudes with the online community or profession? Action: Has the content been replicated, shared, or otherwise proliferated? Qualitative measurables for our goals can be found in: Numbers, Trends, Relationships and Sharing; with guidelines as follows: Number of unique, loyal, and engaged visitors; number visitors in your target community, number of comments you receive, and old numbers compared to new numbers. Numbers can represent the exposure, and to a smaller extent, engagement your content is receiving. Look at trends to better understand previous consumption habits and identify visitor’s changing needs. Viewing what content was most popular in the short and long term can better anticipate current and future needs; gaining you greater influence, engagement, and action. Look at commentary and interactions that occur in addition to viewer loyalty statistics to see which of your visitors come back, how often they come back, and what they say when they’re engaging. These interactions and repeat visits indicate a relationship being formed, which means you’re content and effort on the social media platform is worthy of a relationship. Track the content that is shared. Links to your content and further commentary can occur on other social media platforms such as: twitter, facebook, stumbleupon; and online sources for news, academic or cultural institutions. By tracking the sharing of your content you can see influence and action occurring based on your output. Numbers are the easiest thing to measure; the difficult thing is extrapolating meaning from those numbers. Over a period of time I observe and analyze significant markers, track trends, and identify meaningful changes within the statistics. For measurement frequency, I suggest you measure at a rate that is relative to production. For example, The Smithsonian Collections Blog’s analytics is measured weekly as we produce an average of 3-4 posts a week. We also measure monthly to view any cyclical patterns that may emerge based upon our author contribution schedule. For the sake of simplicity and focus of this lecture, I will only review the use of Google Analytics for where to measure the qualitative measureables as they apply to our goal.
Currently on the screen we’re looking at the Dashboard view, or what I like to call the cliff notes to the statistics. When I check this page once a week I look for numbers that have dramatically increased or decreased and I work backwards to figure out what may have instigated those changes. *** Point out obvious markers: Date for comparison; Spikes, campaign; Dashboard quick numbers; Top areas; Graph The Visitor Overview page provides raw viewership statistics, identifies unique and loyal visitors, and provides visitor access capabilities. The Smithsonian Collections Blog averages 1,000 visits a week and spikes in the graph show that particular content for that day was interesting to our viewer. Although the blog authors enjoy engagement with repeat visitors, we also want to continually draw new readers. Our coverage of content is vast, so we don’t expect a small/loyal community. The Geography page (part of Visitor Overview) may matter more to some than others. It is important to the Freer|Sackler Archives because we want to ensure we are reaching the geographic communities that our collections have originated from. I take great pride in that although the first 4 countries are English speaking, the rest of the top ten include Germany, India, and Turkey. Our number of visitors increase in those areas any time I post content from their area. To me, that is a direct correlation of our efforts to bring exposure to our collections important communities we wanted to reach. (BTW, I realize Germany is not an “Asian” country, but it does host a large populous of Herzfeld fanatics; in addition to the largest Japanese population in Europe.) The Traffic page , for me, is the most easily useful. I can see in numbers, percentages, and graph form how our visitors are reaching us by direct link or referred by other online sites. This section will tell me how much exposure we’re getting, and indicates how much influence we have within other online communities. For example, the Archives of American Gardens has several dedicated online garden forums that increasingly send traffic to our blog. The forums inclusion and sharing of our content portends strong relationship ties being built with the forums. In addition, the blog gains influence within the gardening community hosted by the forums. The Content page helps to identify popularity and diffusion of our content. This tab contains a top content breakdown for our most popular posts; and by adjusting our content accordingly we have been able to steadily build our numbers because we are providing content that is interesting to our visitors. This increases our influence and inspires further sharing. Entrance sources provides a breakdown of where our referred visitors are coming from, which in turn indicates where our content has been shared. By monitoring where we are being shared, I can ensure that those same sources are aware of future related content. For example the University of Chicago picked up and shared one of our early Herzfeld posts. I reached out to the editor of their Ancient World Online Blog and have since developed a strong relationship both on and offline. As a result, coverage of our collections by peer institutions have increased, and stronger ties have been built for future collaboration.
In the few statistics I’ve shared with you, has the Smithsonian Collections Blog achieved it’s social media mission? Simply, yes. We have gained exposure for our collections that never would have existed had we not explored a blogging platform. We have met and engaged with visitors over topics in both the collections and within our profession. Our influence has increased by allowing transparency into our professions and freely sharing our expertise. And we have inspired action within our visitors every time they return to us, share us, engage with us, or allow themselves to learn and be inspired by us. In this presentation I have defined social media, established a social media mission for archives and museums, outlined measurables and showed where to find them within the analytics. I used the Smithsonian Collections blog as a case study to provide a framework to apply the theory and practice of social media, and laid out steps of set up and measurement. In this presentation, it was determined that the Smithsonian Collections Blog was successful by using the checkmark system against stated goals. As far as where I see the Evolution of the Social Media in the Archives and Museum World: well… I believe the change in technology and how we as human beings communicate will necessitate archivists to change their mind-set and adapt skills and habits of the 21 st century. Adoption of technology will remain essential and those slow to adapt have and will continue to suffer lack of exposure, engagement, and influence in their communities. Management will become aware of the impact of staff social media engagement and provide support. Workflow processes will be created and tweaked to incorporate social media actions into the every day work activities. Finally, there will be an effort made to refocus the examination of success from the physical visitor as the priority (or only) visitor, to include the online visitor as an equal and valued visitor. Though technology and social media will evolve (and quickly), the mission will remain the same: finding and building a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship with interested and engaged followers. This relationship will educate and inspire our visitors, make us better participants in our profession, and possibly will better collections information. Social media, like a any relationship, is a long term investment; and it’s about cultivating sustainable interaction with partners rather consumers. Quote from Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieth.
Create And Measure Social Media Success
Create and Measure Social Media Success: The Smithsonian Collections Blog, a case study Mid-Atlantic Regional Archivists Conference S.10 Social Media Sensations: Creative Possibilities for Archives and Web 2.0 May 6 th , 2011 Rachael Cristine Woody Freer|Sackler Archivist
Table of Contents <ul><li>Definition of Social Media </li></ul><ul><li>Goal of Social Media </li></ul><ul><li>Case Study Introduced </li></ul><ul><li>Definition of Success </li></ul><ul><li>What, How and Where do you Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Google Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Case Study Success </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
Definition <ul><li>Social Media: is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ If it’s not on the web, it doesn’t exist.” </li></ul><ul><li>- 50 million hits on Google for this quote </li></ul>
Social Media is not the goal, it’s the vehicle to reach your goal! Goal: Exposure, Engagement, Influence, Action
Case Study: The Smithsonian Collections Blog <ul><li>Platforms </li></ul><ul><li>Mission </li></ul><ul><li>Set Up </li></ul>http://si-siris.blogspot.com/
What do you Measure? <ul><li>*Exposure, Engagement, Influence, Action </li></ul>Google Analytics Google Analytics, Twitter Trends Google Analytics, Interactions on site Google Analytics, Google Alerts, Twitter/Hootsuite