A Semester with Social Media: Three Insights

By David De La Torre

This semester, I had the pleasure of being one of the social media   coordinators for our History Corps Facebook and Twitter pages. Despite the many challenges that this role brought, the last three months have been very rewarding. Through trials and (many) errors, I was provided the opportunity to expand on previous skills and develop new insights into using social media on behalf of a collaborative organization. What follows is a “bloggy” breakdown of three insights I’d like to share:

1.)  Audience matters

Yeah, it does!  Aside from the theoretical literature that we discussed in Professor Rand’s public history course,  Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig’s online guide provided some technical insights on “ building audience.”  I particularly found their advice on the importance of identifying community and being flexible with scope helpful.

In principle, History Corps continues to strive to engage a public audience. But our social media has consistently refined our approach to “audience” in practice. Initially, our Facebook posts focused on “History Corps” organization updates. But we noticed this resulted in too narrow of a network of supportive faculty and students within the department.

In order to re-focus our scope, I collaborated with my teammates to design a model based on three categories: “History Corps,” “Public History,” and “Iowa.”  We decided that posts need to fit within at least 2/3 of these categories.

2.)  Collaboration is necessary

One of my favorite words: collaboration. History Corps embodies an active and conscious effort towards that ideal. My colleague, Mary Wise, encapsulated our shared values of collaboration best through her History Corps @UIowa Prezi. Indeed, my experience on the social media team was no exception to this approach.

My teammate, Danielle Hoskins and I have established a working model for social media that includes active experimentation and reflection. Danielle and I meet bi-weekly to discuss social media strategies, stats, and revisions. We have framed and improved many of the posts that we have made. Next semester, we will build from our previous notes.

I have also learned that the reach of our posts is facilitated by participation and support of our teammates and friends.  Naturally, the more “likes” and “reposts” in our Facebook comments, the more likely they will remain at the top of newsfeeds and therefore be seen.

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