This project will look at how social media can be used to promote, educate, and recruit people into and to the digital humanities. For this example, we will be discussing my current semester project: this is a project on online exhibit curation by adding historical maps of the state of Louisiana to an interactive timeline. Here is the collection that will be used for this project.
The following posting will contain three sections: each section will identify a possible target audience I would like to have engage with my project, then a social media strategy for audience will follow.
Audience 1, High School Students
Audience: This will be comprised of high school students that are, perhaps, somewhat interested in history of the Louisiana territory and digital learning.
–Platform(s): One of the most popular social media platforms for those 18-29 are Twitter and Facebook. Statistically, Facebook is the most popular social media platform, overall, according to the Pew Research Center (source). However, I have seen past digital humanities projects have both platforms, and it is usually Facebook that is not updated regularly; therefore, I would use Twitter primarily to engage with this audiences.
–Messages: Firstly, I believe the best message that would appeal to this audience would be its interactivity of the timeline. In essence, I would like to convey that this project is not a textbook on line, it is not a block of text for students to read – it offers one the ability the play with and interact with the objects. Therefore, the best action these students could take would be to play with the programming.
–Measure: In order to measure the success of this strategy, I would place a Twitter hashtag (#) on the main website, so that when users want to tweet about the experience, they can use a hashtag, and, therefore, the project team can monitor how many hashtags it is accumulating.
Audience 2, Professionals
Audience: Professionals are used in the broadest possible meaning. I am referring to professionals within the digital humanities field, historians, or classroom teachers. In other words, these are people looking to use the information provided via my project for academic or classroom purposes. Meaning, creating lesson plans or using the information for high school or college level course work.
–Platform(s): Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger would be my three go-to platforms to reach this audiences. Blogs specifically because it allows for a more fuller explanation of my work, and would direct the visitors of the blog site to other work or research that I am conducting. Facebook would also allow for the creation of long blogs, and it would allow for the creation of groups – ie., people would be able to join or follow a specific page dedicated to the work. Twitter, however, is the most popular. According to the same Pew research article, Twitter is the go-to platform for people with college or advanced degrees. Therefore, market where your audience is – go to the source. Moreover, Pew also states that emails are popular across the board. Creating an email list would be beneficial. This could be done via the blog website where people could subscribe to the email list. Furthermore, Claire Ross in her article “Social Media for Digital Humanities and Community Engagement,” states that overall social media offers an opportunity for openness for scholarly communication. Moreover, blogs, specifically, offer historians an opportunity to publish their work (finished or unfinished). However, blogs are still a form of publication; they offer an opportunity for collaboration but also criticism. (Matt Phillpott)
–Messages: For the classroom teachers, the message that is most important to them would be the content and the interactivity of the project. Using the maps to create a “live” screenshot of Louisiana would be very interactive for the students. And, the content would be connected to the Library of Congress (LOC), so, therefore, students are able to go to the LOC and see other digital collections. Moreover, for the professional digital historian, I would publicize the software used more-so than the content. The Omeka site and its plug-ins would help bring in those interested in the “behind the scenes” part of the project. Regarding action taken, I would like the visitors to not merely interact with my project, and, perhaps, introduce it into larger discussion of research on digital humanities. While this mode of interaction is not quantifiable, one can estimate impact of project by attending conferences and applying this project into roundtable discussions.
–Measure: Start with the amount of blog site visitors. I can measure visitors compared with those who signed up to receive project updates via email; this will help give a better baseline as to who is merely visiting the blog as compared to those who are invested in the project. Moreover, this email list is a more solid, quantifiable means to measure site visitation and interaction. As for Facebook and Twitter, we can set up a discussion board to allow those interested to further discuss the project. This is a similar setup to what Wikipedia has under their “Talk” section for each article. In fact, it would be interesting to create a Wikipedia article to allow people to interact with the project, then create a brief discussion of the project.
Audience 3, Game Designers
Audience: Game designer of historical-based games such as the Assassin’s Creed games. In these games, the player plays from the view-point of an assassin in various time period. Simply, game designers and researchers can use the maps as way to help create the world of the game.
–Platform(s): Twitter will be the primary mode of transportation. Twitter allows for updates directly from the project team, and allows for the project team to connect with larger gaming organizations. Overall, Twitter may not be the only platform to reach this target audience; therefore, I would also add YouTube. According to the Pew research, 66% of all internet adult users use the web for video viewing. Therefore, in the fashion of the entertainment industry, it would be interesting to create a video trailer of some kind in video format.
–Messages: For the purposes of this YouTube video, the message of appeal would be the interactivity and usage of the collection. I would be marketing this project and its versatile usage for gaming and general historical information. Moreover, because these would be maps, many games designers could use the old maps and simply overlay datapoints to have them placed into the virtual gaming world. Overall, the end goal would be to have the game designers use the maps in their games as a template for location research. In fact, this type gaming-digital humanities relationship was used in the ORBIS digital project. Game designers used this project to create interactive games by using the mapping data provided by the project, according to project technical lead Elijah Meeks.
–Measure: How would one measure this interactivity – good question. One of the best ways to measure would be to see if there are any historical video or broad games that come out that as of late that have a fantasy world based in Louisiana. While this may not be the most time-specific way to measure interactivity, it does offer the possibility that the project’s social media strategy might have worked. Another way to measure this form of interactivity would be see how many emailed inquiries the project receives from gaming organizations. Again, this may appear to be an insufficient way to measure this social media strategy, but it goes offer opportunity to measure who, besides school teachers and DH professionals, are interacting with the project.