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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Social Media Use by State Historic Preservation Offices

Think how you’d respond if a stranger approached you and asked, “What if I could give you tools to communicate directly with people throughout the entire world about causes that matter to you. And, by the way, it will be free.” It is hard to imagine answering anything but a resounding YES! to an offer of that magnitude. A recent review of State Historic Preservation Office websites reveals that fewer than 20 of the 51 websites have an active Facebook page that is promoted from the home page of their website. The number of SHPO’s with a Twitter account that they promoted on their website was even less. And only 11 of 51 sites, or around 21% had both a Facebook and Twitter account that they promoted.

We can do better.

Here are a few tips to help guide SHPO’s with developing a more robust social media presence.

  1.  Having both Facebook and Twitter accounts is now essential. Today there is no excuse to not have both of these essential tools. The following SHPO’s have both Facebook and Twitter accounts that they actively promote on their website: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming.
  2.  Link your Facebook page and your Twitter account together. That way your Facebook posts will automatically appear on Twitter. Here is one how to guide. One benefit of having a Twitter feed is that whatever gets posted to Twitter can be picked up by news agglomerators that combine information you share along with other sources to create even more robust communication tools. For an example see Preservation Daily.
  3. Make links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts clearly visible on your website. Common practice is to put all of the social media tools in the upper right hand corner. The Ohio Historical Society has perhaps one of the best designed examples of this. Be mindful of the Twitter Trademark and Content Display Policy for how to use the Twitter logo.

SHPO’s that follow these principles will find their base of followers expand and grow. Over time this has the potential to develop ever more powerful communication tools to help promote the work of historic preservation in your state, and for preservationists to better track and monitor work being done from one state to another.

If you have examples of SHPO’s that have effectively utilized social media tools, please include a note in the Comments section below. We will periodically come back and review progress. How great would it be if within the year every SHPO had a more robust social media presence? That surely would help to advance the historic preservation cause all across the U.S.

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