Monday, 8 October 2012
It has now been two weeks since I started here in the Archive and Special Collections Service and it has certainly been a baptism of social media. I have gone from being someone who has never used Facebook, let alone Twitter, to someone who not only has their own blog, but has replied to a number of tweets and scheduled the next week of messages for release. Of particular help was a course I attended during my first week which provided an introduction into the various social media sites available and how businesses use these platforms for marketing. Browsing through some company sites demonstrated how different companies employed various strategies in their use of social media. Some brands tended to use Twitter just to advertise promotions or special offers and preserved a distant association with their users; whereas others tried to present a friendlier informal persona, replying to individuals, and in so doing, constructing a relationship between the user and the business.
Interestingly, the September issue of ARC, which is the Archives and Records Association journal, featured an article about Twitter being used to publish content from an historical diary thus improving the visibility of the collection. Last year the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives started to publish extracts from the diary of the cashier at the bank during the Jacobite rising in 1745 called @Johnofthebank. To retain the authenticity of the Twitter feed the group started an extra feed @RBS-Archives to allow for discussion and comments without affecting the historical content. A website was also introduced to provide the historical context and explanation that was required to support the feed. It began during the summer of 2011 and currently has, at the time of writing, 418 followers. There are also a number of other historical diaries being published on Twitter such as the Gertrude Savile diary by Nottingham Archives. The course certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities that these sites present to the profession. Archives are always trying to improve accessibility and encourage new users to come and have a look at material. Twitter provides us with a fantastic and free opportunity to reach new audiences and get collection content in to the public arena.