How can heritage organisations keep up to date with social media content trends?

Social media can boost your heritage organisation’s profile and share your content with broader audiences and communities. In this resource Andrew Davis explains how to make use of digital trends and how to find out about them.

People taking photographs of painting at a museum
Photo by Jill Evans from Pexels

How can heritage organisations keep up to date with social media content trends?

With platforms and how we engage with them ever-changing, keeping on top of social media trends can be a full-time job. However, it’s vital to stay up to date on this to ensure that you and your content aren’t left behind.

 

1. But why is this important?

Social media is a great way to boost your heritage organisation’s profile and share your content with a broader audience. But successfully taking advantage of (or even creating) a trend on social media will help grab your audience’s attention even faster. It also makes your content more current and therefore shareable, meaning it has the possibility to snowball organically (i.e., without paid ad-spend behind it).

A good example of a popular social media trend in the heritage sector is #curatorbattle, a trend started by Yorkshire Museum, where museums would be invited to showcase items under weekly themes including ‘sassiest object’. Not only was this trend a success across Twitter, but it also generated international news coverage.

Another popular heritage hashtag is #HeritageTreasures, English Cathedrals used this to promote a video showcasing cathedrals and this massively increased the number of interactions they received. Similarly, Barnsley Museums got involved in the #HeritageTreasures hashtag but with a twist. Merging images of Brian Blessed with their paintings got them close to 50 likes on Twitter, rather than their usual handful.

Screenshot of a Twitter post by Barnsley Museum.

However, it’s important to remember that social media users are fickle, and trends move fast – engaging with an outdated trend can be worse for your brand than not engaging in any at all.

However, it’s important to remember that social media users are fickle, and trends move fast – engaging with an outdated trend can be worse for your brand than not engaging in any at all.

 

2. Different trends work for different platforms

It’s important to remember that different trends resonate with different audiences and platforms, i.e., what works for Tik Tok might not work for Twitter and vice versa.

When engaging in social media trends, consider your own platforms and if and how different forms of content translate. You should look to adopt a tailored approach, rather than replicate or adapt the same content across the different channels you use.

Make sense? Kind of? Don’t worry – luckily, none of this is as complex or daunting as it may sound.

In fact, just ten minutes each day is more than enough to gather all the intel you need, you just need to know where to look. In this article, I highlight six (virtual) destinations and some specific recommendations to help you stay up to date with social media trends.
mobile phone showing social media apps Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok and Twitter

 

 

3. Newsfeeds and podcasts

Curating your newsfeed with accounts that you both like and trust is the easiest and most popular way to stay on top of social media trends.

You can search for hashtags you are interested in by typing them into the search bar at the top, like the image below searching the #CuratorBattle hashtag. You can also have a look at what else is trending both in your country or worldwide by clicking the ‘Explore’ button on the left-hand side, underneath the twitter logo. By searching and joining in using the hashtag, your tweets will be seen by everyone following that trend/tag.

Screenshot of Twitter post by Yorkshire Museum’s #CURATORBATTLE!

Twitter’s interface is the most straight forward for this, using both your general timeline and the ‘lists’ functionality. Twitter Lists are a way to customise, organise and prioritise the Tweets you see in your timeline. You can set Twitter lists to both ‘public’ and ‘private’. If you don’t want people to see your lists, and don’t want the accounts on them to know you’ve added them to a list, make sure you select ‘private’.

For more detailed information it’s worth checking out podcasts and YouTube accounts. Below are some recommendations of top social media marketing channels and accounts to follow online. Their pages are packed with further information on how to keep up-to-date with social media trends.

Recommended Twitter accounts:

Recommended YouTube accounts:

Recommended podcast:

It’s important not to forget about algorithms. Generally, they will only show you around 20 percent of the accounts you follow, based on how much you engage with them. Engaging with accounts you follow for trends-based information, leaving likes or reactions, will ensure you won’t miss them. On Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, there’s also the additional option to set alerts on accounts, so you’re notified whenever they post.

 

4. Email newsletters

One of the mantras of digital marketers is ‘the money is in the list’. When it comes to keeping up to date with social media trends, most online sources of information will likely have an email list you can subscribe to.

Email marketing is not as ‘sexy’ as social media or influencer marketing, but it is highly effective and many social media news sites and experts will have email lists. To get the latest social media news straight into your inbox, sign-up to mailing lists on websites you find particularly useful.

Recommended email lists:

 

5. RSS feeds

‘RSS’ stands for ‘really simple syndication’, and RSS feeds enable you to create a space that pulls in key updates from websites of interest.

It’s an old school yet effective tactic, and helps you consume your various updates in one quick bite, rather than having to search manually to find the information and updates yourself.

You’ll need an RSS reader if this method is of interested, which can be done using these simple steps:

  • Make a list of websites that are useful and trustworthy for keeping on top of trends
  • Find an RSS reader that allows you to access the RSS feed from these websites, such as Feedly (www.feedly.com), and create an account
  • Use the RSS reader’s search function and type in websites from your list, or relevant topics
  • Select the ones you’d like to follow
  • Continue to use your RSS reader, either from your phone or your desktop, to remain up to date.

Recommended websites:

 

6. Conversation

Sometimes the best way to stay on top of social media trends is simply by talking to other like-minded people.

If you have these contacts already, you could suggest creating a group chat, whether that’s via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or WhatsApp. If you’re less sure of who to ask or approach, there’s a range of other online spaces available like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces, or for a more traditional-style forum, Reddit.

Recommended groups:

 

7. Straight from the source

Many social media platforms have their own accounts, bulletins, and feeds to keep users up to date with their own developments, including:

 

8. Aggregator sites

Like RSS feeds, aggregator sites collect and link related content items together for you. They’re a really handy way to bring everything together in one place and can sometimes also tell you why certain articles or pieces of content have been popular, based on how people have interacted with them.

Recommended aggregator sites:

And there you have it. Six key destinations on your social media trends journey.

It’s important to say that you don’t need to make use of all these methods. In fact, even just one is a brilliant start and may be more than sufficient. What’s important is exploring which works best for you.

Then once you’re setting aside ten minutes each day to consume that content, you’ll find yourself fully fluent in the latest social media trends in no time.

 



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Published: 2022
Resource type: Articles


Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "How can heritage organisations keep up to date with social media content trends? (2022) by Andrew Davis supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0




 
 


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Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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