Question: How should NARA use Twitter?

Cultural organizations sometimes get a bad rap for adopting “technology for technology’s sake.” This tends to happen when observers feel that the excitement and widespread appeal of a new product has eclipsed its actual usefulness within the scope of the organization’s existing mission and strategic plan. On the other hand, with the proper research, planning and a discriminating approach, these tools can greatly enhance the methods by which essential functions are already carried out. We’ve seen this to be the case with the National Archives’ Flickr photostream and YouTube channel, our family of Facebook pages, and, thanks to you, this very blog! By connecting with a variety of new audiences, these projects have directly supported our mandate to make “our holdings and diverse programs…available to more people than ever before through modern technology and dynamic partnerships,” as laid out in NARA’s official Vision Statement.

Now, in the spirit of collaboration, we’d like to ask your opinion on a new undertaking. In the coming weeks, NARA is planning to begin a new Twitter feed and we wondered how you think this new tool would best be utilized. What types of things do you want to know about what goes on behind the scenes at NARA? Would you be interested in research tips, event notifications, exhibit tie-ins or high-profile updates to NARA’s holdings? Do you follow the NARA Twitter feed that focuses on press releases and news? Do you personally use Twitter to let people know about your own research when you are at NARA? We’d love to hear your ideas on how to make this next phase of the conversation a success!

7 thoughts on “Question: How should NARA use Twitter?

  1. I would love to see NARA on Twitter! I can tell from my year long Twitter experience (I am @geneabloggers) that it has been more than just a marketing tool for me – it is a way of engaging people and sharing/conversing with them.

    My recommendations:

    Do not merely regurgitate press releases or items on your blog. Still tweet links to these but this a true tweep cannot survive on this alone.

    Make sure you use a client like TweetDeck so you can monitor search terms, mentions, etc.

    Make sure you set up search columns for terms, especially NARA and “National Archives”. When tweeps you don’t follow or don’t follow you mention NARA, reply and engage them. A great way to build followers and have a helpful reputation.

    Ask questions of your followers via Twitter – use it for flash polling on topics.

    Monitor questions from tweeps related to genealogy research – point them to a NARA resource or if that won’t work, point them to a non-NARA resource.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks to Thomas and Michael for the suggestions and encouragement! We’ll let you know here on NARAtions when we start tweeting, so stay tuned.

    – Jill (admin)

  3. Well the best way to utilize twitter is probably to put a follow us link on all of your sites. Then Tweet updates to your site. And it you can somehow add the words from one of the hot topics into your tweet hundreds of people will see your tweet and actually check out some of your sites.

  4. I think the government should use technology to keep in touch with people. I have noticed more and more people talking about what they heard on Facebook or Twitter than talking about what they heard on last nights news. Any form of communication with the people of this country, as long as it is used to inform them of what is going on in our country is a a must.

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