The Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors

sound delivery logoIt has already been a week since I attended the one day Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors. Organised by the irrepressible Jude Habib, co-founder of Sound Delivery the communications and training company, it was a fun day learning about the uses of social media in museums and libraries.

I have included a selection of my notes from the day below, but most of the content plus updated comments are available through their dedicated website at

Using Web Content to Build and Engage Your Audience

KnowHow NonProfitMadeleine Sugden – KnowHow NonProfit –

What is web content for:

  • Proof of existence
  • Help people to learn something – 24/7 learning
  • Encourage action / change behaviour – find out more/shop etc

What is web content for? – 5 Questions to help you make the most of your web content

1. Audience – will they get beyond your home page?


2. Presentation

  • Are you helping with skim reading?
  • Use headings, blocks of text, links to more content
  • Are you giving too much information?
  • Placing text over images leads to accessibility issues
  • Is content accessible
  • Are you encouraging people to read on?
  • Don’t use – “Click here to find out more about…” unnecessary text
  • Bring in other content to improve experience e.g. weather forecasts from BBC


3. Medium

  • Content isn’t just printed words
  • Are you using the best format?
  • Are you using audio and video content?
  • Is it interesting and fun?


National Museums Liverpool – audio content is key part of page – subject integration – includes transcript alternative –

Great Fire of London – interactive video game type experience for children –

Welcome to Yorkshire – help to build your day in … – dynamic itinerary building tool –

Hackney Museum Virtual Tour – very boring –

4. Marketing

  • Help people find your site
    Search engines – work on Google Search Engine Optimisation, think about subject terms used to find your content. E.g. A search for Victorian homes does not find many of the relevant museums.
  • Use all channels
  • Integrate on and offline activities


Eric Bloodaxe from York Museum has a Facebook page

Mediamuseum on Twitter with 1,700 followers

Eureka museum putting their images on flickr

Wellcome collection – medical London – videos of relevant walks around London –

Imperial War Museum North – their page on the Big Picture Show does not come close to capturing the impact of the actual experience in the museum –

5. Influence

  • From passive users to active users to super active users…
  • Make it easy to interact and take action
  • Influence windows



City of Westminster Group Tweeting or Finding your organisation’s voice on Twitter

Ali Holder – Westminster Libraries


Started in March 2009

Currently lone tweeter

First tweet: Planning to put all news and events in libraries here. Also additions to the 24/7 library of exclusive online resources for library members.

11:34 PM Mar 3rd from web



Getting started:

Buy-in from senior management important as speaking for Westminster

Get tweeting – once or twice a day, most days – not too much, not to little

Set up Business Continuity colleague so they can tweet library closures etc


Mainly post news & events, but also draw attention to existing / regular / ‘hidden’ aspects of service.


  • Organisational voice
  • Broadcasting, not conversing
  • Access restrictions within the work setting
  • Getting customers and potential customers to follow us.


  • Aware of popularity of posts with existing and future followers – e.g. free wi-fi
  • Use search tools to find out what people are saying about us.
  • Proactive use allows us to build trust and demonstrate use to organisation
  • Ditto for users –

Finding our voice – who is tweeting?

Me, us or them?

Future plans:

  • Group tweeting – or groups of tweeters
  • More feeds
  • More use of hashtags
  • Tweeting through events
  • Feedback and conversation
  • How do we measure success?


  • Never forget the biog section
  • Work out who is speaking
  • Provide links
  • Don’t protect updates
  • Watch how others do it
  • Don’t exclude – have a feed

Twitter demographics – typical user – around 30 and urban


Round up discussion

Patrick Forbes – Head of Documentaries at Oxford Film and Television

Nick Reynolds – Editor, BBC Internet Blog

Frances Croxford – Consultant and Account Manager at Jane Wentworth

Be aware of both huge opportunities and significant risks associated with adoption of  social media.

Inherent lack of control.

Before you start make sure you are aware of the external perception of the organisation.

  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Transparency

Tell stories which come from both your staff and your audience.


  • Institutions are naturally resistant to social media as it leads to loss of control.
  • Biggest resistors are curatorial staff
  • Cultural change can take between 5 and 10 years

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