We also use social media in a way that helps us make discoveries about our collection. For example, just a couple weeks ago you helped us make a connection within an unmarked photo (link to original FB post) that led us to the discovery of the event it depicted: the 1957 opening of the new government wharf in Gibsons Landing. We also discovered accompanying photos from various perspectives through your help. This type of thing happens a lot. When we have a question, or interesting photo, we ask you for help. Just so you can see the progression, here is the initial post, the middle post where you helped us with your knowledge, and the post where we were able to tell you with certainty what conclusion we came to. Another exciting post was this class picture we posted on this year’s Elphinstone Secondary graduation day.
The most popular of the social media platforms we use is Facebook. Facebook is very popular with our typical audience, who are usually around 45 to 65 years old. Interestingly, a number of those who regularly interact with us on Facebook also regularly come into the Museum to visit and walk through the exhibits. It is nice to have such a solid contact with this audience because they are our link to the past. Visitors such as local historian Dale Peterson help us with connections, events, and other happenings that may not necessarily be included in our collection. As a Summer Student from out of town, and also for the Museum, this connection is imperative because it helps us learn and document things about the community that otherwise may have been forgotten.
But how do we add a new social media platform into our outreach program? It is not as simple as just making an account and starting to post. First, research needs to be done. To convince the Manager that Instagram was a beneficial program I did research on the benefits of Instagram to businesses and museums, how Instagram works, and how we as a Museum would use it. After the initial green light I compiled lists of post templates, accounts to interact with, and how to ‘tag’ posts. (‘Tagging’ is the process through which posts are categorized within the social media platform so that they are easily accessible; this is commonly done through keywords and phrases.) This ensures that anyone will be able to efficiently run the account. Now that the report is complete we can start to post and interact with our new audience. As an added bonus Instagram is popular with small local businesses and other museums worldwide, allowing us create a great dialogue locally and around the world. Through this connection we learn from them, and are able to communicate with our visitors in new and exciting ways!