Choosing the right social media for your heritage site

When you’re busy running a museum or natural heritage site you can’t be everywhere at the same time, and that includes your social media. If you try and commit to too many platforms you will spread your staff and volunteers too thinly to be effective.

So how do you choose which channels to post on? A key consideration will be the age of your target audience. For Common Ground, we’re targeting young people, and we knew we’d have a lot of photos to post so we chose Instagram as a main channel. To help you decide, here’s our summary of all the pros and cons of each channel.

Facebook

With almost 1.5 billion users, Facebook is the probably the first social media channel that came to your mind. The benefit of so many users is that it’s a great platform for connecting with your existing visitors. People who want to stay in touch and be told about future events or exhibitions will easily find you and follow you, and posting to local groups and communities can be a good way to reach a more specific crowd of people. The downside is that with so many people and business shouting for attention in one place it can be very hard to be heard and to reach new audiences. The other consideration is that young people often have an account but don’t actually use the app, preferring to use Snapchat, Tik Tok and Instagram to be social. It’s probably best for reaching families, retired people, and almost everyone in between.

Twitter

The biggest benefit of twitter is its extremely effective use of hashtags. This makes it great for reaching people in a specific place, or people interested in a specific topic. It’s great for real time updates at events, and anything newsworthy. It is much less effective for visual content, so if you know you’re posting a lot of photos you should probably consider Instagram. It seems to be fairly popular across all age groups but not really loved by anyone.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social apps, especially among younger audiences up to about 40. It’s extremely visual and relies on photos or videos for posts. You can also tag locations and include hashtags in your captions to reach more specific audiences. The downside is that like Facebook (which owns it) it’s hard to be seen, so you might find yourself needing to pay for advertising to reach new people. It’s a great platform to hand over to a young volunteer or staff member, and we have another blog with 5 tips to be youth-led if you’re interested?

Tik Tok

TikTok is all about sharing short videos and has proven extremely popular with teens and young adults. Users love it because it is extremely creative, with new challenges to try and built in effects added all the time.  What’s a bit more unique is that the default view is a ‘For You’ page which shows content which is trending from users you do and don’t follow. This means content has much more ability to go viral than on other platforms where feeds are limited to people you already follow. The obvious downside is you need to be a really confident creating video content, and it will suit youthful and fun organisations better than anyone else.

YouTube

YouTube easily remains the biggest video Platform on the internet, and because it’s part of Google, videos on YouTube tend to do well in Google searches. This makes it well suited to videos which answer a specific question or discuss a specific topic. YouTube is also completely free, and that includes unlimited storage for videos. Although it is massive, there is still a lot of opportunity to reach people on YouTube because it has such a powerful search function. The potential downside is that you need to be making content that people are searching for. This could however, also be seen as an opportunity. You will need to commit to one video a week to realistically build an audience, and that can be a challenge.

Other options include Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest, all of which are less obviously suited to a heritage organisation, but never say never…

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