Kenneth McElroy from the Caithness Broch Project shares his top social media tips in the latest SHSMG blog post.
Ah, social media. Where would we be without it?
Chances are we’d be in some flourishing utopia where debate is open and civil, opinions are respected, and you aren’t bombarded by a constant stream of coffee served in an avocado skin with foam art made to resemble a yoga pose. Oh, and big yellow jackets. Big yellow jackets, EVERYWHERE.
However, that is not the world we live in. Increasingly your and our worlds are shaped and influenced by social media, and, for many, it’s confusing, hectic and annoying. That said, it is quick, easy, free (mostly), informative, and, frankly, invaluable.
If you are looking to start up your own project, idea, business, charity or, well, just about anything (there is a Facebook page for “The same photo of Jeff Goldblum every day”, which does exactly that), then having a presence on social media can provide you with a fantastic platform to spread the word.
Having been asked to write about social media and provide some tips and hints on how to make the most of it would infer that I know a lot about it. And perhaps I know some things – but I am not an expert on the matter. I am not a – *shudder* – ‘Facebook Ads Consultant’. But we all start at the same level, so let’s start there…
1. NONE OF THIS WILL MAKE SENSE TO BEGIN WITH
If you’re a complete newbie then hello! Welcome to the Internet. However, I suspect most of you have actually accessed this through some form of social media, whether that be Facebook, Twitter or perhaps even Instagram.
If you’ve not used one of the above sites, then why not try investigating them?
Facebook is the most common and perhaps the easiest to start off with. It’s a bit of an all-rounder – good to share pictures, stories, and introduce your project.
Twitter is good for following particular people and projects. Think of it as a bit of networking. It’s also really useful to find out the very latest developments in the people, projects and news stories you are interested in.
Instagram is great for pictures – so if you have a project that lends itself well to photography, then definitely get involved with this.
There are, of course, many other sites. Tumblr, Vero, Periscope and even Snapchat can be used to help promote your project.
It may seem a bit daunting at first, but you WILL get the hang of it. Just give it a go!
2. Who is your audience?
This is a good question to ask yourself. Are you a serious, no-nonsense, purely academic group? Or are you looking to engage with the general public? This will impact on how and what you post. For Caithness Broch Project, we are looking to make archaeology engaging and accessible, and so a lot of the time, our posting and general ethos is fairly informal, quirky and irreverent. It has worked well for us, and allowed us to introduce our project to those who might not necessarily have taken an interest previously. However, this may not work for every group, so consider this before clicking that ‘post’ button…
Oh boy. Here we go. Now that you’re a fully-immersed social media-er…it’s good to keep an eye out on trends and ‘memes’.
What is a meme? Well, allow ‘www.knowyourmeme.com’ to explain:
“Memes are broadly defined as culturally transmitted information, or ideas and beliefs that can be spread from one organism, or group of organisms, to another. A key component to the meme concept is that the information is able to self-replicate, and in turn undergoes a type of natural selection, much like genes.”
This is, however, pretty technical. Memes can more generally be described as really popular images or videos on the internet / social media, and, often, they are altered by others. These memes can go ‘viral’ – i.e. seen by thousands or millions on the internet.
It’s a good idea to watch out for memes, and see if your post can, in some way, fit in. An example of a meme is something called ‘Doge’, which is a sort-of imagination of how dogs might talk. As you might expect, ‘Doge’ is a very rudimental, innocent and humorous form of English – see below:
So, with Caithness Broch Project, we simply adapted this, to show the below:
And that my friends, is how you internet.
Again, if you’re an informal group, then something like this works well – but perhaps less so if you want to be taken mega-seriously
4. Don’t Feed The Trolls
Now that you’ve set yourself up on a public platform, remember it is exactly that. Everything you write or post can be seen and can be commented on by the public – and sometimes, they will disagree with you. Sometimes they will be downright rude or idiotic. But bite that lip, count to ten, take a breath, go make some tea – whatever you do, don’t turn your social media site into an online verbal sparring. It doesn’t look good on your part and can lead to problems further down the line. If the worst comes to the worst, you can block those ‘Trolls’ who insist on being a pain in the butt or report them.
5. Use Cats Wherever Possible
Don’t ask, OK? Some things can’t be explained, and the internet’s love for cats is one of them. Just do as I say, yeah? Ok? Purrfect…
6. Don’t Rely on Social Media!
This may seem counter-intuitive, but you must remember that social media is not the only way to promote your project. Get out there and meet the public face to face at shows, community events or by providing talks; write for local and national newspapers or magazines; do spots on the radio or even television! There is a multitude of people who are not social-media savvy or who may never come across your project, no matter how hard you meme.
Header image: Nybster Broch