Webinar: Social Media 101 for Museums and Historic Sites

Is your organization looking to expand its impact and attendance through social media? Join AASLH for crash course on effective social engagement for museums and historic sites. (Scroll down for more details)


Date: January 17, 2017

Time: 3pm EST

Cost: $40 AASLH Members/ $65 Nonmembers


Full Description of the Webinar:

65% of all adults in the U.S. use at least one social media site. From sharing family photos to learning about what is happening in the world to organizing revolutions to planning a day trip, social media has connected local and international communities like never before. History organizations can be intimidated by the number and variety of social media platforms available. Where do you start? How can history museums best navigate this constantly changing, super connected world? Join AASLH’s Hannah Hethmon for an intensive introduction to social media use at museums and historic sites. Whether you are just setting up your site’s accounts or have been using social media for years, this is a great chance to learn best practices and ask questions.

Topics covered will include:

-Basic social media theory
-How to decide which social media platforms are best for your organization
-How to tailor your posts to your audience
-How to create mission focused content for social sharing
-How to use social media to build relationships with visitors and potential visitors
-Best practices
-An introduction to paid advertising on social media
-Easy ideas to take home and start using right away


About the Instructor:

hannah-smallHannah Hethmon is the Membership Marketing Coordinator at AASLH, where­—among other communication and marketing responsibilities— she runs all the official social media accounts. Before entering the public history/ museum field, she worked for eight years doing marketing, copywriting, and sales in the for-profit sector (primarily small businesses). In addition to a degree in English literature, she holds a master’s in medieval Icelandic history, philology, and manuscripts.


Teamwork and Internal Collaboration

Recently, staff at the White House Historical Association were asked to complete a job description questionnaire, which asked everyone to provide a list of key internal relationships. While I interact with many co-workers on a regular basis, this led me to think about the most important ongoing relationships within the organization--the people I depend on and who depend on me.

I understand all too well how easy it can be for each department to focus on individual projects without a lot of communication with other departments. Our new President started in June and one of his goals has been to find new ways to encourage teamwork and internal collaboration.

In order to begin collaborating more effectively, there were a series of editorial planning meetings amongst all of the managers of each department. The purpose of these meetings was to go through each calendar month for the next 3-5 years and create a list of all of the upcoming projects, programs, and anniversaries or commemorations so we could find common themes and connections between departments. This has helped to provide a greater awareness of what others are planning and create opportunities for collaboration.

The exercise of listing key internal relationships will not only help our President look at the overall organizational structure but it emphasizes the important role that internal relationships and communication have on our day-to-day work. For instance, we hosted an open house in December that was a collaborative effort across multiple departments. While the education staff facilitated the overall program and activities, staff from the communications and marketing department helped with promotional materials, publicity, and signage. The publications department helped with printed materials. The research department assisted with historic images and background research for various materials. The facilities department assisted with the set up and clean up and the sales department kept the gift shop open special hours for the duration of the event. With everyone’s contributions, it was truly a successful collaborative event.

Taking full advantage of your internal resources will help to strengthen your organization and empower staff to contribute and work as a team.  Not every project will require collaboration across departments but communication is paramount. Even if someone is not directly involved with your project, they can still serve as an advocate or provide inspiration. They may even find a connection with their work that will further fulfill your organization’s mission.

  • How do you encourage internal communication at your site?
  • How are you utilizing key internal relationships?
  • Are co-workers in other departments aware of your projects and day-to-day work?
  • Are there further opportunities for collaboration that exist internally at your site?

Communicating Across Languages

Docent Kathy Gunn sizes up her group as she begins a tour of the Workman House.
Docent Kathy Gunn sizes up her group as she begins a tour of the Workman House.

Every institution wants to communicate their stories and information as clearly and effectively as possible, but what should you do when the language you are using to deliver that content is a barrier to your visitors' understanding? At the Homestead Museum, we often have visitors whose primary language is not English, so we recently put together a list of things for our docents to keep in mind when giving tours to this audience.

  • Simplify the input. Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and limit the use of more complex words and slang. Avoid metaphors or idioms, as these can appear nonsensical and distract from your point.
  • Pronounce your words correctly. Exaggerated pronunciations will not help your listener and may cause more confusion.
  • Be explicit. Say, “Yes” or “No.” Do not say, “Uh-huh” or “Uh-uh.”
  • Decrease the use of "filler" words. Try to remove the “noise” from your speech. If your tour is filled with "um," "like," "you know," or other fillers, comprehension becomes, uh, difficult.
  • Economize your words. Listening to an unfamiliar language for long periods of time can be tiring. Choose your words thoughtfully and carefully.
  • Be aware of cultural differences. There are different standards around the world regarding touching, eye contact, and personal space. Someone standing closely or not looking you in the eye can merely be the cultural norm for him/her, and should not be taken as an offense.

If an interpreter is with the group:

  • Interact with the entire group. Always engage the entire audience by showing interest and focusing on the whole group. If you only look at the interpreter, you lose any chance of building rapport with the rest of the visitors.
  • Plan your time carefully. Remember that everything is being said twice—first by you, and then by the interpreter. So, a one-hour tour can quickly become two. Compensate by cutting down the amount of information you give on the tour.
  • Do not rush. Interpreting is a taxing job and is mentally exhausting. To alleviate the pressure as much as possible, speak slowly and clearly.
  • Complete your thoughts. Each statement you make should be expressed as a complete thought. Don't segment to “give the interpreter time” to translat—this breaks up the content oddly and things can, indeed, get lost in translation.