I really enjoy the digital humanities and public history accounts I follow on Twitter. I’m a big advocate of social media outreach. It’s such an ubiquitous part of many people’s lives today that I think institutions and people who don’t use it to their advantage are really missing out on an opportunity.
I’ve used my Storify to identify four trends I see a lot on these accounts: outreach, news, engagement, and updates. I think that all four of these trends are useful ones for public historians or digital humanists to engage in, whether on their own accounts or on managed accounts for their institutions.
I don’t think that I am skeptical or suspicious of Twitter use by historians or humanists, since I think it’s clear that social media is here to stay for a while. I would say that I am suspicious of Twitter accounts with high follower counts and no follower interaction, though. In some cases, many account followers are bots, which make the account look popular but doesn’t provide useful interaction with the public. If an account with thousands of followers consistently gets little or no feedback on their tweets, that would be a sign that they’re not engaging with their community well enough. Their content could be uninteresting or irrelevant to their followers, or their posts so infrequent that they get buried in a user’s timeline. It’s important to keep in mind best practices for Twitter, and to ask users for feedback when disappointed in their engagement. A good way to drive up follower interaction is to make posts participatory by asking questions or using hashtags like #ElectionCollection seen in the Storify or the upcoming #AskAnArchivist day.