Social Media and the History Non-Profit

May 10th, 2010 |

Hello All,

Here’s what I put in my ThatCamp application:
I would like to talk about the ways that the digital humanities can be used to communicate information in a non-profit setting.  I can provide examples from the National Trust for Historic Preservation–especially through the work some of my colleagues and I have worked on in terms of creating an advocacy campaign for Save America’s Treasures and the Virtual Attendee conference page for last year’s National Preservation Conference in Nashville, TN.

In general, I’d like to hear how other organizations, individuals working in the digital humanities field have used social media and Web 2.0 to promote and market a particular message or idea.

Here are some links so that you can see what the National Trust has been doing.

In 2009 after we realized that the economic downturn would prevent many from attending the National Preservation Conference our web team put together a “Virtual Attendee” page as a way of encouraging individuals who cannot come to the conference to attend ‘virtually.  As a result we used live chat (Cover it Live), Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter to get information about the conference out to the preservation community.  In particular the web team looked at ways in which Twitter could be used by multiple people to tell the multiple stories from the conference–and as a result a team was deployed that consisted of each individual Twitter account having its own “beat”. For example, my handle @pc_presnation was tasked with giving a general history point of view for the conference, and I ended up actually tweeting the National Preservation Award ceremony as if it were the Oscars.

To prep our members we released this video.

The other example of how we use social media is for the recent (and ongoing)  Save America’s Treasures campaign. In brief, in the 2011 budget the monies for the Save America’s Treasures, Preserve America and Heritage Area’s programs were either completely zeroed out or drastically reduced.  In order to mobilize our members and remind Congress of the importance of preservation  it was decided that social media would a) put materials out there that people could use, and b)serve as direct marketing for the cause.  The text messages, the Facebook status messages, and the materials posted on YouTube and Flickr were divided between the emotional and the factual.

For examples check out our   Tweet for  Our Treasures page.

I’ve also been thinking, with the recent announcement by the Library of Congress regarding obtaining the Twitter archive about how historians can use these technologies to further our role in the public arena. How can we market the importance of what we do in the modern era? It strikes me that one of the things the National Trust struggles with is our image and reputation as being for a particular demographic. The same thing with heritage tourism, or preservation in general. How do we use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or whatever comes next to further communicate the broad mission, and dare I say-relevancy-to all Americans?

That ended up to be a lot more long-winded than I intended. Thoughts? Anyone else interested in talking about something like this?

About Me: I help run the preservation professional membership program (or the leaders level of membership) at the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Its called Forum membership). I write often for the blog,  and also post on a personal blog called ….And this is What Comes Next which while history related will also reveal my slight love for a little show called LOST–so since we are going to be having this conference on the eve of the Finale, you can also track me down to talk about the show as well.

Comments Feed

2 Responses to “Social Media and the History Non-Profit”

  1. mebrett Says:

    I would interested in talking about this. I’m particularly interested in the problem of how to get the non-social media people in historical organizations to understand the culture, especially since in non-profits everyone can be exceptionally pressed for time.

    As an example, the blog we have at work is fairly well read, but every post we put out has to be read and vetted by at least 2 people (one of them from communications) before it can go public.

  2. THATCamp 2010 » Blog Archive Says:

    […] proposal from Megan Brett and I’m particularly curious for any suggestions from Chad Black, Priya Chhaya, Karin Dalziel, and Matt […]


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