The Scottish Heritage Social Media Group is a fantastic resource for anyone in Scotland (and beyond!) to talk about how heritage organisations (from museums to heritage sites to libraries and beyond) can use Social Media to reach new audiences, publicise events, and join in the fun of hashtags.
SHSMG runs a blog that is a fantastic resource produced by its members. In 2017, I wrote a piece on the intersection of Social Media, Heritage, and Fandom. You can find the blog here.
When I wrote the piece, I was reflecting a great deal on ways to bridge the gap between institutions and fans, something that I am passionate about. Quite often, fandom is greeted with scepticism by large institutions who may not understand how – or why – fans wish to interact with their collections. When fandom is welcomed, the potential for a fruitful relationship is often stifled by organisational structures, a lack of knowledge of how fandom works, and by fans not always understanding how to ask for what they want. In most cases, a simple conversation can clear it up – but so can reaching out to interested groups with potential activities, events, and an open mind. When fans reach out, ideas are not always feasible, but – like any local history group or other special interest group – they are passionate about their interests, and are willing to devote a huge amount of time and energy to projects.
And a lot of these moments for introduction and conversations can happen on Social Media. Tapping into popular hashtags can introduce such audiences to a collection – as can tagging fan accounts. It is always worth spending a few minutes a week to see what is popular and if there is any way to tap into it.
Ultimately, Social Media is an excellent way to find out if there is any possibility for engagement with fandom and the new audiences that it represents. Fandom can be a messy place, but it can also be a fruitful place for heritage organisations – especially those with collections that can be related to a popular story.