Social Networking and Digital Humanities Projects

November 30, 2009 by

How can digital humanities projects use social networking to expand their audience base and excite new audiences about content?  Hi, my name is Amanda Sikarskie, and I work in project development on the Quilt Index,  The QI is an online resource for scholars and educators, providing access to images and metadata for around 50,000 (and counting) historic and contemporary quilts held in collections across the U.S.

One common goal of many digital humanities projects (and we’re no exception) is reaching new audiences—especially younger audiences, audiences outside academia and K-12, and audiences outside the U.S—and exciting those audiences about the objects in our database.  I’ve used Facebook and Twitter to help the QI achieve these goals, and in this session, I’d like to talk about some of the specific strategies I’ve used with these sites (an object of the day, polls, galleries, etc) and also brainstorm other ways that digital humanities projects can make the best use of social networking apps.

I’d also like to talk about how I’ve used analytics such as Facebook Insights, WeFollow and Klout, and how any digital humanities project can use social networking analytics apps to see how they’re meeting their audience goals.  We learned that through social networking we’re reaching audiences in places from Ethiopia to Bangladesh, and that we have a huge following in Italy!

Come to this session if you have anything to share or learn about social networking and digital humanities projects!

6 Responses to Social Networking and Digital Humanities Projects

  1. Erin Bell on November 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Amanda, great post. I really like your examples of *active* social networking (“object of the day, polls, galleries, etc”) and use of analytics to make sense of your audience and their needs and behaviors.

    I think a lot of times, sites offer a lot of ways to access material and interact with their organization (Twitter, FB, etc.), but they don’t always follow through by actually working in those media. So their accounts just kind of sit there gathering dust or (worse, maybe) become the personal outlet for staff socializing. I’d be interested to hear how you manage daily workflows for multiple social networks along with maintaining the main QI site (and other work).

    I’m also really excited to hear about your use of analytics on social networks. I’m hoping to get a session together to talk about data mining in social networks (as it relates to long term preservation, future history making, etc.) and think this might be a good place to start (that is, existing audiences within our existing networks) before moving on to the vast mountains of data elsewhere.

  2. Eric Limbach on November 30, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    As a tangent to Amanda’s post, the Quilt Index site is built on the Kora content management system. I know that a number of ThatCamp attendees will be familiar with Omeka; Kora is similar, but different enough that each system has its own strengths. If anyone out there has an interest in designing/developing digital humanities projects (I’m sure there are a few of you), and would like to know a bit more about Kora, feel free to chat with one of us.

  3. Amanda Sikarskie on November 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Great point about the Kora cms, Eric. I’d be happy to talk with anyone about Kora as well. It’ll be good to see you again at THAT camp!

  4. jamesdcalder on December 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Yes, I’d love to hear more about Kora! Also would be great to have some concrete ideas for how to use social networking tools more effectively. While I am a huge proponent of using these tools, I do find that its really hard to measure the impact of things like Facebook or Twitter, beyond, of course, the number of followers/friends one gets. And I’m also not sure if such numbers really translate into whether or not the tool is being used effectively. Anyways, sounds interesting, can’t wait to hear more!

  5. Marjorie McLellan on December 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    The discussion of analytics and social networks will be very useful to me at this point. I also look forward to learning more about Kora and how it compares with Omeka.

  6. Amanda Sikarskie on December 9, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I’m so glad that you’re interested in analytics. Using various analytics apps has really helped me convince others that our social media campaign is effective, and we’ve even gotten a little bit of fodder for future grants out of the data generated by analytics apps. I’m definitely planning on demos of various analytics and how best to use the data gleaned from them to be a focal point of my session. See you in Columbus!

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