Can Facebook be Beneficial to National Historic Landmarks?

You’ve heard of ‘social media’ and maybe looked at Twitter and checked out someone’s Facebook (FB) profile, but why does this matter to National Historic Landmarks (NHLs)? Many believe that FB is only for private use for an individual to update their status, tell friends what they are up to, and upload pictures. However, FB has become so much more and several NHLs are using it to their advantage. There are more than 200 million FB users in the United States alone. National Parks, National Park Service Programs, and NHLs are among the users that are utilizing FB as a marketing tool.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘social media’ as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” Social media and in this case, FB pages are becoming increasingly important as a non-traditional way to be found and to engage with interested individuals. People are no longer watching TV ads and going through junk mail. Instead they use search engines and visit social networks for answers to their questions. FB is popular among all age groups and is probably the best way to engage with those age groups 18-25 and 26-34 who together make up around fifty percent of users (checkfacebook.com).

If you think FB can benefit your NHL then setup a FB page. After all, it’s free! To setup a FB page, you must first have a FB login and setup a profile. A FB profile is the human equivalent of a FB page for an NHL. However, it is not necessary to fill out all of your profile information in order to create a page for your NHL. It simply creates a human connection for your NHL and you as administrator of your NHL page, which can be changed later. After you have your profile then click on ‘create a page.’ It is important to choose the correct name of the NHL and to categorize the page using the correct template whether the NHL is a local business or place, company, organization or institution, community, etc. Next, it is important to completely fill out the information page because this is keyword optimized so that the NHL will show up in search engines. Please consult the rules and size guidelines for the NHL image or logo to be used on the page and be sure to post a code of conduct to those interacting with your page.

Now that the NHL has a FB page it is time to generate content. Spur conversation by asking questions, publishing polls, re-posting fan comments, and commenting when someone mentions the NHL. If you have a blog, the foundation for your content can come from blogging. You can create promotions, contests, and sweepstakes and solicit content where users can then vote for their favorite. It is important to let users guide the content. You can also use fan submitted photos, insert media links, and poll your site visitors. FB even makes it possible to invite users to bricks and mortar events, parties, concerts, on-line events, etc. Remember, when a FB user ‘likes’ a page, RSVP’s to an event, or comments on an NHL’s page, the activity can show on their news feed, which is an ever flowing river of information, for all their friends to see!

Most importantly, content must be fresh, constant, and inherently social. Social media guru Lisa Ann Landry suggests posting to FB three to four times a day when your target audience is present. In order to make your page successful, Landry recommends one hour of daily FB CPR (Comment, Post, Reply) broken into thirty minutes each in the morning and evening. Content ideas can come from brainstorming, already printed material, fans, news, etc. Find your ‘voice’ so that posts are personal and authentic. You can even create a theme for the day and tweak that theme four times throughout the day to appeal to different personalities. It is possible to repurpose content, but don’t duplicate. Choose content that offers value to the fans of your NHL and drive them to your goals without being too promotional. To be social, involve customers and fans and value their input. Give readers something to do, watch, or play that motivates them to share your content with their friends.

Remember that interaction is key because FB understands that a user can’t read all their friend’s status updates. FB wants you to see stories that are the most relevant and important to you in your newsfeed. This is why FB developed EdgeRank, the algorithm that determines which ‘edges’ or stories are displayed (and in what order) on your newsfeed. The EdgeRank score is based on affinity or a user’s interaction with the friend or page who published the content object, the level of interaction so that comments receive a higher score than clicking "like", and timeliness meaning that fresher content has a better chance of being posted on a user’s newsfeed than older content. Keeping this information in mind, go forth and share the knowledge, wisdom, and expertise of your NHL!
Originally published in "Exceptional Places" Vol. 7, 2012, a newsletter of the Division of Cultural Resources, Midwest Region. Written by Alesha Cerny.

Last updated: June 21, 2018