The online world is noisy. There’s cat videos, dance trends, memes, podcasts, recipe TikToks, a website dedicated entirely to people posting their thoughts at any given time. It can be hard to cut through the clutter.
The good news is, as heritage organisations, you are home to lots of exciting content. Heritage organisations exist to tell their story and you have the best people to tell it, too.
Everything that makes your staff and volunteers excited to work there will make others just as excited as well. Whatever your chosen subject for your content, expertise and passion will always get you fairly far.
However, with the good news comes the bad. Getting your content viewed isn’t a particularly formulaic process. Success can vary on even a day-to-day basis. Social media is a big space – it’s all about carving out your corner.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can tip the balance in your favour.
Keeping track of performance to identify what works well and what doesn’t is one.
Regularly engaging with social media content outside your organisation to keep up-to-date with trends that you can take advantage of is another.
And you can also follow our handy how-to guide below – starting with finding your audience.
Consolidate the audience you have already
There are many different platforms and channels where you can publish your content. But is your audience there yet?
For example, while TikTok may look trendy and exciting, if your audience is currently not there, it may not be a fruitful avenue for getting your content seen. We know that it’s worked well for organisations like the Black Country Living Museum, who have over 41 million views, but it’s a lot of work and means tapping into a younger audience than, say, Twitter.
Organisations would be better consolidating the audiences they currently have when first starting out, than building new audiences elsewhere.
But keep an eye out for opportunities
This is not to say, of course, that you should never adopt new platforms. Keep an eye out for opportunities, but always make sure that you ask yourself what value it holds before you take the plunge.
Join groups on Facebook related to your organisation and area of the heritage sector, and join in with discussions. Participate in the community, position yourself as a trusted voice, and post your content where it is relevant.
Rate, share, and subscribe
It is always worth asking your audiences to rate, share, and subscribe to your content, especially if it’s a video or podcast. Getting your supporters to take that next step, shows that your content is working and helps others to find you. Word of mouth remains a powerful currency, even online.
Make content easy to consume on different platforms
When you are posting content in multiple places, remember that people consume it differently depending on the platform. The important thing is to make it as easy as possible for your audience to access your content, wherever they are.
Ensure your images are the right format and size for different platforms for increased visibility. Create a guide with the different specifications to share with your team. Shorten video content for social media and pull out the important messages you want to get across in captions. Pembrokeshire Coast is a great example of this. The team there edited the same video of musician Cerys Matthews joining them in a celebration of their 70th year as a national park and shared it on Twitter and Facebook, maximising the reach of their investment.
Basically, put your content in front of as many people as possible, in as many different ways, and you’re likely to get more hits. Having a variety of content helps to keep it fresh.
Create snippets for those with less time
Hour-long webinars and feature articles may be good to explore issues in depth, but not everyone has time to dedicate to them.
Creating shortened video snippets around your content – including all the salient information you want your audience to know – is a great way to put more eyes on it and help your time-poor audience learn what they need to in a fraction of the time. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Create an article to host your videos
Creating an article around your videos, and embedding them, is another way to increase views. People may be consuming your content on public transport so having a way to read your content, rather than listen, can be helpful, too. Don’t be afraid to mix your media!
Think about accessibility
Thinking about different formats is not only about increasing your views. It’s also about making sure that your content can be viewed by everyone who wishes to see it. Make your content accessible – inclusion is just as important as finding new audiences.
Keep in mind font sizes and colours to ensure text is readable, include alt text on your images to allow screen readers to describe them, and provide subtitles and transcripts for all of your content. If you go back to the Pembrokeshire Coast video in point 1 of this section, you’ll see that they have closed captions available via YouTube and have built in subtitles.
You can find helpful guidelines on how to make your content accessible on the RNIB website, while more detailed information is available in the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Trial different times
The performance of content can vary depending on the time of day you post it.
These times change regularly, as human behaviour changes. We were all on the internet a lot more in 2020, for example, but less so in 2022. Continuously checking what works for you is vital.
Go to your data. Twitter has built-in statistics you can view underneath individual tweets, under ‘View Tweet activity’. You can also simply use the number of Likes and shares you get on a post to start with.
Check the posts with the most views and engagements, and look at what time they were posted – is there a pattern? Test different times to confirm any hunches and use the outcomes to inform your strategy.
Make a content plan
Look at the platforms you’re using, and plan what kinds of content you will use and when.
Perhaps you’ll have a Video Thursday or a Podcast Friday? Keeping it regular creates a cadence that builds an audience as time goes on and tells them exactly when to come to you for content.
Tailor it to their availability and expectations and you’re onto a winner.
If you have sponsored content, consider the 411 rule
If you have sponsors, or content where you’re selling something on your own behalf, you might want to consider when you’re developing your content cadence is the “411” rule. This means posting four pieces of educational content for every one piece of sponsored content (the rule is explained in more detail here in relation to Twitter).
Adhering to the “411” rules ensures your content becomes known for the value it holds for your audience, not the marketing objectives you would like to push.
Hit the right audiences with the right content
When we say be specific, we mean with both audience and topic. Organisations shouldn’t fear that their topic is too niche – there’s no such thing on the Internet in 2022. (May we remind you of the recent resurgence of sea shanties, for example?).
But make sure that you’re hitting the right audiences with those topics. Content about careers and profession-related topics are great for LinkedIn, for example, but pictures of the office dog are criminally less appreciated there.
They are more likely do well on Instagram though – as long as the imagery is high-quality!
Use appropriate hashtags
Using lots of hashtags indiscriminately will yield questionable results. Follow the ones that matter to you and relate to your organisation, including hashtags about your local area. This will help you find other users who are talking about the same subjects that you are – follow them, like their content, and build a community.
Check the hashtags others in your sector are using, such as #heritage or #historic. Hull’s Maritime City project, for example, uses #WhatIsItWednesday to generate curiosity around items in its collection, and added #HullMaritime so that people could find more of its content easily.
If you’re running a campaign, like the Kids in Museums’ Takeover Day, always end posts with a specific hashtag relating to it. Kids in Museums simply used #TakeoverDay, bringing together posts from multiple museums who were participating in the day in one singular feed, once the hashtag is clicked on.
Using such a hashtag not only helps you trend, but people can use the tag to discover content about your organisation and find it later. Remember: sometimes the most popular hashtags are not the most fruitful. Many more people use them and they can push your content down the ladder more quickly.
Stay on brand
Ensure that the content fits with your organisation, too. Heritage organisations have so many interesting stories to tell – so don’t dilute your amazing content with something your supporters can see doesn’t fit.
That’s not to say you can’t think outside the box and be spontaneous, but keep your tone of voice consistent and always ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. Content should always have a value.
- World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- The 4-1-1 Rule
- What are Sea Shanties
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Please attribute as: "A guide to raising your profile on social media (2022) by Laura Stanley, Charity Digital supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0