An Intern’s Journey: Chapter 2; Navigating a Digital World

For as long as I can remember, the time we live in has been termed the digital age. It’s my generation and the generations that have followed after me that have grown up surrounded by technology. While I remember a time where my family only had very slow dial-up internet and one family computer. There are many people out there who have only known the digital world we currently live in.

Learning how to adapt to and navigate a digital world seems to be more important than ever. With social distancing measures in place, the one way we have to connect with our friends, families and communities is through digital technology. With this in mind, I want to share what I have been working on since my first blog post last week!

Part of my internship this summer is to work with Grant and come up with a social media plan that will help future volunteers and employees navigate the world of social media. I have some experience in social media management, mostly just from being a teenager during the peak of some of the preferred social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and learning on my own how to gain a following and engage with followers. I also had the opportunity to take on social media management while I was in university. I worked for three local children’s party companies in Kingston and helped manage their social media accounts, create graphics and banners for the company and help promote and advertise events. It was a nice side job that I could do before going to class or even between classes. It taught me valuable skills about algorithms, marketing, engagement and advertisement in the digital world.

I knew from discussions in my public history classes that social media was an increasingly important avenue for museums and historic sites. With this in mind, I wanted to bring my previous knowledge to the table when it came to look at and applying for my summer internship. I was thrilled that Grant shared the same excitement with me about social media and its benefits and has allowed me to help create plans for Banting House National Historic Site to use for the future.

The first thing I did was a social media analysis which involved me going through the insights and analytics of the site’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress and compiling some raw numbers. Important numbers to look out for are engagement (the amount of people liking, commenting and sharing), reach (the amount of people that see your content) and impressions (the number of times your content is displayed). Other things to take into consideration are one’s audience (gender, age and location) and the times your followers are most active. Instagram and WordPress both tell you the best times to post based on previous engagement, whereas Facebook and Twitter require a bit more digging!

Despite having done reports like these previously to becoming an intern, it was still a bit of a learning curve! There are major differences between social media for children’s party companies and social media for national historic sites. Audiences are often different and are looking to engage with different content in different ways. In saying this, the children’s party companies I have worked with are also very similar to my work with Banting House National Historic Site. Both value the importance of branding, have a passion for engaging with their followers and community, and want to provide the best experiences they can for their guests/customers.

I look forward to continuing my work with social media and being able to interact with the community through digital means. Here are some of my takeaways of the week:

  • Social media is important for the future of museums and historic sites
  • While it seems daunting, social media is something that anyone at any age can learn to master
  • People are interested in engaging with museums and historic sites digitally
  • Consistent branding and posting is key to effective and successful social media pages
  • Canadians love the Queen Mother!

What do you think of social media? Do you like engaging with historic sites and museums digitally (especially if you are unable to visit the site)? What kind of posts/photos do you like engaging with on a museum/site’s social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments or share your opinions with us on social media!

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This post was written by Kat MacDonald, an intern at Banting House NHSC. Kat is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.

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