Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives

This post and strategy were written by Jeannie Chen, Mary King, and Hilary Parkinson, with contributions by Dana Allen-Greil. This is the first in a new series about our social media strategy. We welcome comments from staff, other cultural institutions, and the public, and will continue to update the strategy as a living document.

In six years, you can get a lot done! If you are the International Space Station, you could have orbited the earth 35,040 times. If you are Apple, you could have released 10 new iPhones. If you are the National Archives, you have gone from zero social media accounts to over 100!

It’s been six years since NARA’s first social strategy was released. Things have changed in the digital universe, and so we’ve been working on a reboot of our social media strategy.

Animated gif image excerpted from “Right on the Button.” From the series: Motion Picture Films, ca. 1960 - ca. 1970. Records of the Internal Revenue Service, 1791 - 2006.
Image from @TodaysDocument Tumblr. NAID11900.

In 2010, we introduced our first social media strategy to continue our commitment to open government and to empower staff to use social media. Now our digital presence reaches hundreds of millions of people. More than 200 National Archives staff contribute to 130 social media accounts on 14 different platforms, generating over 250 million views in 2015.

Access and transparency are at the core of our work. With the explosion of digital devices and platforms, we can share our documents and our mission with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

To tackle these new needs and to keep us current for our audiences and stakeholders, we have come up with this new plan. We met with staff and asked them about their goals and needs for social media–and we asked staff what challenges they faced when using social media. We also researched social strategies of other influential institutions, we analyzed our social media and web data, and we read up on best practices. We led lightning sessions to get feedback and suggestions from other galleries, museums, archives, and libraries. Now, we need to hear from you!

Your feedback is needed to make this strategy the best it can be and we want to hear what you think. We see this as a living document, so we’ve published the strategy on GitHub, a collaborative development web platform.

Take a look at the National Archives Social Media Strategy and leave a comment below. Or, send an email to and let us know what you think. Please be sure to add your comments by September 16 so we can include your feedback in our plan!

7 thoughts on “Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives

  1. Looking over the list of NARA and NARA-affiliated social media, I was shocked by how many I didn’t know existed–especially the two accounts devoted to African American history. That so many only have Facebook pages is a huge gap in the strategy, particularly when their content is pretty sparse (since, after all, Facebook algorithms privilege the pages with consistent engagement; if these pages are only updated every now and then, Facebook pushes them off your feed). It seems a shame to have 41,000 likes (The Afro-American History Society Facebook page) and only intermittent content!

  2. The National Archives is a treasure which yet more people could take advantage of so further promotion is a welcome site to see. I hope this development and forward planning continues long into the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *