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A departmental face to social media: Lessons learnt from promoting natural history collections at National Museum Cardiff

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The Natural Sciences Department at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales has been using social media to highlight its collections, research and events since 2011. Since then various platforms have been utilised, such as Twitter, Facebook, Storify, blog pages and Flickr to increase profile through social media. Over the last two years a change in working practices have ensured an increased following and consequently a raised awareness of the collections by followers. Information has been successfully inter-connected across different social media platforms and linked to more traditional media sources such as web pages, on- line databases and catalogues. Effective monitoring of outputs has enabled efforts for the presence of the whole department on social media to be streamlined, efficient and produce a wide range of successful products.
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Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
18
A departmental face to social media: Lessons learnt from
promoting natural history collections at
National Museum Cardiff
Abstract
The Natural Sciences Department at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales has been
using social media to highlight its collections, research and events since 2011. Since then
various platforms have been utilised, such as Twitter, Facebook, Storify, blog pages and
Flickr to increase profile through social media. Over the last two years a change in working
practices have ensured an increased following and consequently a raised awareness of the
collections by followers. Information has been successfully inter-connected across different
social media platforms and linked to more traditional media sources such as web pages, on-
line databases and catalogues. Effective monitoring of outputs has enabled efforts for the
presence of the whole department on social media to be streamlined, efficient and produce a
wide range of successful products.
Keywords: Social media; Public engagement; Natural history museums; Twitter; Storify;
Flickr; Blogs; Advocacy; New audiences
Department of Natural Sciences, National Museum Wales,
Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NP
*Corresponding author: Katie.Mortimer@Museumwales.ac.uk
Kate Mortimer*, Harriet Wood &
Jennifer Gallichan
Received: 21st Sept 2015
Accepted: 20th Nov 2015
Introduction
The Natural Sciences Department at Amgueddfa
Cymru-National Museum Wales has been using
social media since 2011 to highlight its collections,
research and events. Since then, its presence on
social media has increased; not only in line with a
global change in awareness of different social me-
dia platforms, but also due to a museological and
cultural change encouraging staff to become more
involved in social media activities. The power of
social media in education, science communication
and in connecting people has been clearly shown
(Wilcox, 2012).
Although blogging via the Museum’s web pages
was the starting point for departmental social media
activities, the springboard to a greater presence
came from using Twitter. Originally the
@CardiffCurator Twitter account was set-up for
personal/sectional use, and as such focused on an
area of interest towards taxidermy and birding.
However, in 2013, the decision was taken by the
new @CardiffCurator twitter account manager, to
transform it into one representing the whole depart-
ment, its work and natural history collections, in a
bid to broaden its appeal, and to spread the work-
load between curators. This transformation, alt-
hough slow initially, has brought about huge knock-
on effects associated with the number of people
engaging with content.
During the first two years as a personal/birding ac-
count there was a steady increase in followers to
around 100, whilst in the following two years after
transformation, numbers rose more rapidly to over
2000. This rise was attributed to increased interest
in the wider diversity of content being posted, cov-
ering all aspects of zoology, botany and geology.
This was noted due to the change in composition of
the audience (moving away from a mainly birding
audience), which followed the account, and a
change backed-up from demographic data from
Twitter Analytics.
Mortimer, K., Wood, H., & Gallichan, J. 2016. A departmental face to social media: Lessons learnt from promoting
natural history collections at National Museum Cardiff. Journal of Natural Science Collections. 3. pp.18-28.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
The following paper discusses the benefits of post-
ing material on social media as a department, ra-
ther than from a personal perspective, and also
details lessons learnt throughout this process for a
large organization.
Methods
Framework
Posting material on social media via a department
of over 30 staff members and additional honorary
fellows poses unique issues in terms of organiza-
tion. Therefore, the curators within the department
adopted a tiered approach, having a lead curator to
oversee the account, and champions within each
section to help promote the supply and organiza-
tion of content from other colleagues. A structured
framework was additionally adopted to organize
material in preparation for posting on social media
platforms. This consists of:
a) Social media folders on shared computer drives,
allowing participants across the department to pro-
vide material.
b) Basic ‘Tweet Guides’ (Fig 1) to provide infor-
mation to those less familiar with social media and
to give advice on tweet construction (e.g., number
of characters, image formats etc.), hashtags and
twitter handles/usernames.
c) Standardized forms (Fig 2) allowing users to
provide batches of tweets that can be tweeted over
a period of time by those who have direct access to
the account.
d) A ‘Tweet Diary’ that lists events and days
throughout the year and encourages staff to pre-
pare material in advance. This includes occasions
such as public holidays and celebrations (Easter,
advent, Chinese New Year, Saint’s days, Valen-
tine’s Day etc.), museum events, historical coinci-
dences (#BornOnThisDay, #DiedOnThisDay,
#PublishedOnThisDay) and National Days. These
types of events have proven to be extremely good
vehicles to highlight our collections, in an engaging
way that audiences can relate to. This has also
been shown for other museum social media ac-
counts e.g. the weekly Tate weather feature (linking
objects in the collection to the weather in London)
allowing the public to engage with museum collec-
tions in a different way (Guerra & Pansters, 2014).
Hashtags
The usefulness of using hashtags in allowing users
to find or aggregate information on a particular sub-
ject is well documented (for example, see Zambo-
nini, 2010). They can be particularly useful for
events and conferences, allowing delegates and
those unable to attend to follow what is happening
for the duration. This can often lead to those
19
Fig. 1. Basic tweet guides utilised to help staff construct tweets.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
hashtags trending on the Twitter homepage; for
example, the General Meeting of the American
Society for Microbiology (Bik & Goldstein, 2013),
and recently the NatSCA ‘Museums Unleashed’
conference at MShed in May 2015
(#NATSCA2015).
Hashtags have been very effective for increasing
engagement with natural history subjects too. Pop-
ular weekly hashtags such as #FossilFriday show
how hashtags can increase engagement opportuni-
ties for Museum tweeters, and this certainly has
been the case for the @CardiffCurator account.
Tweets containing weekly hashtags such as those
listed below often make up the Top Tweet or Top
Media Tweet of the month, as recorded by Twitter
Analytics. The popularity and success of weekly
hashtags is also evidenced by the proliferation of
natural history hashtags for every day of the week,
for example:
#MineralMonday #BotanicMonday
#MolluscMonday #TrilobiteTuesday
#WormWednesday #WeevilWednesday
#ThinSectionThursday #FungusFriday
#SpiderSaturday #ScienceSunday
Of course, there are also hashtags and events
which come up yearly, such as #AskACurator and
#MuseumSelfieDay, which have a global following.
Additionally we have found that utilising subjects/
hashtags that are currently trending on Twitter to
highlight collections can increase the audience
viewing our tweets.
The added benefit of using hashtags is that they
often give tweets longevity, something which is
particularly useful given the ‘here today, gone to-
morrow’ pace of platforms like Twitter. Often,
tweets that include hashtags are retweeted days or
weeks after their first appearance, as users search
for particular subjects.
Storify
Another useful tool for giving longevity to infor-
mation on Twitter is through the use of Storify. This
platform allows you to create cohesive stories and
timelines through the aggregation of tweets, imag-
es, videos, blogs etc. from a variety of different
social media platforms and web-links. Elements
used in Storify must already be accessible online;
so, for example, unpublished images required for a
story must be made publicly available first, although
text can be added directly. It is particularly benefi-
cial for preserving tweets before they become ar-
chived by Twitter (Bik & Goldstein, 2013). It is also
a valuable tool for evaluation purposes, bringing
together peoples’ opinions on a particular topic to
highlight achievements. For examples of how it can
be used in a natural history museum perspective to
highlight specimens and collections, see Mortimer
et al. (2014; 2015). Finally, Storify can also be used
to highlight public engagement activities and con-
ferences by aggregating live tweets.
Flickr
Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales have
had a presence on Flickr since 2008, but more re-
cently a Natural History album under the umbrella
of the organization’s account has been produced,
to show stories and objects from the collections and
research. As Flickr is an image and video hosting
website, the stories chosen for inclusion have a
strong visual focus. One of the advantages of using
Flickr is that more information can be added to im-
age captions than is possible on other platforms.
Links to hashtags/twitter campaigns, blogs and web
-links can also be included, thus connecting materi-
al across the social media network. Flickr is also a
useful tool for embedding images for use with other
social media platforms such as Storify (see above).
Blogs
Although blogging has been the social media for-
mat that the department has been involved in long-
est, it is perhaps the one that needs a higher level
of engagement to build up a following. Blog posts
are published through the Museum’s web pages,
and on average natural history blogs are currently
posted around 1-3 times a month. Blogging pro-
vides an opportunity to add more content than is
possible with other platforms such as Twitter, how-
ever, blogs are often more time consuming to con-
20
Fig. 2. Tweet forms, allowing staff across the department to provide material for posting on social media.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
struct. Often blogs are more fitting for certain types
of engagement such as fieldwork diaries, reports
on outreach events, new projects, social history
stories detailing collectors, specimen stories and
new acquisitions to name but a few. Members of
staff from each section within the department have
the capacity to post blogs, thus providing greater
opportunities and ease for blogging across the
department. There has been a notable increase
across the institution in the number of blogs being
written now that blog posts are advertised on the
homepage of the organization’s webpage.
Connected face
The department has endeavoured to connect ma-
terial on different platforms across the social media
network (Fig 3). For example, tweets are amalga-
mated and published on Storify, linking in relevant
information from websites and images (e.g. from
Flickr) to make a more cohesive story. The posting
of these stories can then form the basis for blogs
and further tweets, producing an interconnected
network. However, the content and nature of the
material published is altered depending on the na-
ture and audience associated with the relevant
platform. In this case one size really doesn’t fit all;
different platforms have varying demographics as-
sociated with them and thus material should be
tailored to suit (see for example, Duggan et al.,
2015: 5). This approach ensures a wider range of
coverage, and reduces the amount of work needed
by adapting previously existing content. In other
cases where there is a target audience in mind, it is
beneficial to select specific platforms that are
known to have a high number of users from this
audience. Young adults for instance have a ten-
dency to use different social media platforms than
those used by older adults (Lenhart et al., 2010).
Vehicles for engagement
A variety of vehicles have been successfully used
to promote the natural history collections at Am-
gueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales. The first
is by utilising a Natural Sciences mascot called
Arthur the Arthropleura, a model of the largest in-
vertebrate ever known to have lived on land. Muse-
um mascots (#MuseumMascots) have been suc-
cessfully used by several natural history collections
as a way of engaging audiences e.g.
@OisinTheDeer,
Diplodocus carnegii (@NHM_Dippy),
George the Gorilla (@George_Gorilla),
Tolson Half Pig (@TolsonHalf_Pig).
Unlike these mascots Arthur does not have his own
individual account, however, he is utilised to pro-
mote galleries and exhibitions (even crossing over
disciplines, Fig 4), external events such as the Roy-
al Horticultural Society (RHS) show in Cardiff, and
internal activities such as open days (Fig 5), and
parts of the natural history collections. His adven-
tures have produced a lot of attention both from
followers of our social media outputs but also from
the media (published on BBC Wales online for ex-
ample) and are a way of engaging new and more
varied audiences.
Analysis
Good analysis has been vital in gaining a greater
and more successful presence on social media.
Through understanding what aspects have been
successful, future content has been adapted and
streamlined, and has been a fundamental part in
increasing engagement rates and followers. For
instance retweets have risen by 370%, tweet fa-
vourites by 511% and followers by 1900 over the
last two years for Twitter alone. The department
have been actively monitoring and analysing our
social media outputs for several years.
Initially, data collection for our Twitter account was
done by hand, looking at number of retweets, fa-
vourites and potential audience figures (i.e. the
number of followers of those that retweeted us +
21
Fig. 3. The connected network of social media outputs
posted by the department.
Fig. 4. Arthur the Arthropleura on his adventures, promot-
ing different parts of the Museum.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
the audience of our account). Whilst this was useful
in giving an insight into those tweets that had a
greater number of impressions (the times a user is
served a Tweet in timeline or search results), it did
not provide insight into how/whether people were
engaging with content, outside of retweeting or
adding the tweet to their favourites list. The advent
of social media analytics has enabled us to delve
deeper into the analysis. Examples are the Twitter
Analytics Dashboard that started in 2014, a free
resource from Twitter enabling users to look at the
performance of tweets; and Google analytics for
web analytics. This has enabled us to look at, for
example, whether tweet construction (e.g. number/
type of pictures, presence of web-links/hashtags,
text style etc.) and day/time of day of tweeting,
impacts the number of engagements. The data is
then benchmarked against twitter accounts across
the organization, via the Digital Media Department.
Tweet bulletins and tweet-ups (an event whereby
people who use Twitter get together) help to share
best practice ideas across the organization.
The @CardiffCurator twitter account currently has
the largest number of followers of any of the depart-
mental accounts at Amgueddfa Cymru and the les-
sons learnt over the last two years have been
shared and followed by other accounts as a case of
best practice. Benchmarking options are available
with some analytical packages (such as Google
analytics), allowing comparison of effectiveness
with those in the same industry. However, some
analytical options are only available in premium
analytical packages and as yet this is not some-
thing that we have investigated ourselves.
The impact of changes to the account can also be
assessed, e.g. when changing profile text or imag-
es it is possible to see whether this increases or
decreases the number of engagements. Analytics
vary between platforms and this means that com-
parisons between platforms can be difficult. At pre-
sent, ‘number of views’ is the only metric that we
calculate for both Storify and Flickr. However, the
successfulness of material on Twitter often reflects
whether it is used on other platforms. Blog metrics
are collected by the Digital Media Department using
Google Analytics.
The data has been additionally useful in encourag-
ing more people to provide content (i.e. showing
the reach of social media) and in evaluation of the
benefits, against time inputted into social media
activities. This is often important for justification of
time spent to management. Analytics also enables
account administrators to understand the profile of
their followers, and to see who is engaging with
content. For instance, 64% of our Twitter audience
enjoy sport, so tweets that connect our collections
with major sporting events have often led to high
numbers of engagements (e.g. 10.7% engagement
rate for a tweet highlighting the start of the Six Na-
tions 2015). Knowing the locality of followers, al-
lows you to select times when the target audience
is on-line. Seventy-two % of our Twitter followers
are UK based, but 9% are from the USA, so tweets
celebrating the 4th of July for instance would be
time-shifted to meet the American market.
Whilst automatically calculated metrics have ena-
bled us to delve deeper into understanding how
people are engaging with our content, hand calcu-
lated statistics have given us a deeper insight into
22
Number of Images Average number of
Impressions
Average number of
engagements
Average engagement
rate %
0 275.5 6.6 4.08
1 1201.5 37.7 3.31
2 1251.6 29.6 2.84
3 1393.9 54.7 3.56
4 1684.3 50.9 3.22
Table 1. Average number of impressions, engagements and engagement rate (%) for tweets containing between 0-4
images tweeted during July 2015 from the @CardiffCurator Twitter account.
Fig. 5. Arthur the Arthropleura, being used to promote
external events such as the RHS show, Cardiff.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
who is engaging with content and additional rea-
sons as to why some tweets are more successful.
Thus, we have found it prudent to add additional
data to the metrics provided by automated analyt-
ics (see Appendix 1), detailing for example, the
tweet composition (whether any media is attached
and in what format e.g. number of images etc.) and
examples of accounts that retweeted us, which
may have an impact on the success of the tweet.
This has allowed contributors to look for reasons
why engagement rates may be higher or lower for
some tweets.
Whilst it is too early to say definitively which tweet
compositions are the most successful, certainly the
addition of images seems to increase engagement
rates hugely. This enables tweets to stand out
more clearly on a user’s timeline, which is im-
portant given the often fast pace of viewing. Stadd
(2014) found that users engaged at a rate 5X high-
er when an image was included. Similarly, recent
data collected in July 2015 from our Twitter ac-
count found a much higher number of impressions
and engagements for tweets that included a picture
than those that didn’t (see Table and Figs 6a and
6b). However, the average engagement rate for the
latter was actually higher (Fig 6c), indicating that a
large proportion of those seeing the tweets actually
engaged with them. This may be explained by that
fact the majority of tweets without images from the
@CardiffCurator account tend to be related to en-
quiries and their answers. Therefore they may not
have a broad appeal but those directly interested in
the enquiry were more likely to engage with them.
However, it should be noted that the number of
tweets without images included in this analysis was
relatively small.
Anecdotal evidence from collating statistics
seemed to suggest that the addition of more imag-
es also increased engagement rates e.g. in order
to view all images easily users will click on images
to expand them. Our data (Fig 6) shows that the
average number of impressions gained is highest
for tweets containing four images, whilst the aver-
age number of engagements and average engage-
ment rate (excluding those without images) sug-
gests that having three images per tweet is slightly
better. At present this is based on a relatively small
data set, and this will continue to be analysed.
Whilst bright and colourful images do seem to at-
tract attention, the importance of a tweet’s wording
shouldn’t be overlooked. Table 2 contains data for
four sample tweets, which utilised engaging angles
or non-natural history related text to introduce the
specimens and objects. All four tweets received
relatively high engagement levels, which highlights
the importance of good text alongside good imag-
es. Image orientation can also affect engagement
rates, for instance, when we tweeted an image of a
diatom in a landscape orientation with Welsh lan-
guage text (812 impressions and 28 engagements)
after the same image in portrait orientation with
English text (570 impressions and 14 engagement)
it received higher engagement rates. Twitter analyt-
ics shows that we generally receive a greater num-
ber of impressions for English language tweets
than those in the Welsh language, indicating the
image orientation was likely to be the contributing
factor to the higher number of engagements. Alt-
hough image orientation is something that could be
tested further, anecdotal evidence (pers. comm.
Sara Huws) supports this. This is therefore an im-
portant consideration with Twitter given that pic-
tures in a portrait orientation will be displayed in a
landscape letterbox, often obscuring important
parts of the image.
Since using an integrated metrics system over the
last six months, retweets have risen by 69%, fa-
vourites by 77% and number of followers by 27%.
Whilst automatically calculated analytics are ex-
23
A B C
Fig. 6. (A) Average number of impressions, (B) engagements and (C) engagement rate (%) for tweets containing between
0-4 images tweeted during July 2015 from the @CardiffCurator Twitter account.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
tremely important for producing data, the addition
of data by hand does give an added benefit and
level of understanding. Although more time-
consuming, it gives a greater sense of who is en-
gaging with content. It is important to analyse the
time spent on additional analytics compared to the
benefits gained, to decide whether it is beneficial.
On average, 1-2 hours per month are spent on
analytics for the @CardiffCurator account, the as-
sociated benefits of which have been deemed to
make it worthwhile. Twitter analytics has shown
that it is important to look at a variety of metrics to
determine how successful your presence on Twitter
is. For instance, whilst number of followers of an
account is important, it is more important to look at
the number of people actually viewing material and
engaging with it.
Day and time posted and inclusion of hashtags and
Twitter handles undoubtedly have a great effect on
engagement rates. We have found that early morn-
ings, lunch times and evenings can often be busy
periods with a lot of people both tweeting and view-
ing tweets. Whilst busy times may increase the
level of engagements due to the number of people
on Twitter, it can also mean that tweets are lost in
the high volume of material being posted. Although
daytime and weekends are often slow, fewer
tweets are generally posted so tweets can have a
high number of impressions and engagement
rates. Seeing engagement rates in real time via
analytical software, such as the Twitter Analytics
Dashboard, is important for observing the effect of
timings for different accounts. Whilst this pattern
has been observed for @CardiffCurator, it is likely
that different accounts will have varying de-
mographics and different audience patterns.
Thinking and working in new ways
There is a great potential for much of the work that
goes on behind the scenes in museums to be high-
lighted on social media. See for example, Freed-
man (2015) for examples of how and why NatSCA
members use Twitter for promoting collections,
networking with colleagues across the museum
community and also opening up the often hidden
world of museum stores and conservation labs.
Museum professionals do not necessarily foresee
how interesting and engaging even simple day-to-
day activities are to those outside the confines of
the museum walls. However, the success of tweets
(in terms of engagement rates) highlighting these
areas emphasises the public’s interest in what we
do. ‘Careers and the world of work’ and ‘How scien-
tists work’ are important threads in the science cur-
riculum (see, Department for Children, Education,
Lifelong Learning and Skills, 2008 page 9 for in-
stance) and presenting what goes on behind the
scenes via social media is a great way of promoting
this. Mortimer (2015) and Plant (2015) illustrate
ways that the Department have promoted the work
of scientists at the Museum.
Benefits of tweeting as a department
There are several benefits of tweeting as a depart-
ment, as opposed to having individuals tweeting
from different accounts. The main benefit is that
once the system is set up, it reduces the amount of
time and effort on any one individual and ensures
that there is a constant stream of tweets, rather
than flourishes of tweets fitted around the workload
of individuals. It ensures that tweets are construct-
ed by individual curators, who are specialists in a
particular area rather than generalists, and ensures
a variety of topics and styles are utilised to interest
different demographics. If support is available to
individuals who are less confident in the use of so-
cial media (i.e. those less likely to have their own
Twitter accounts), it means that they are more likely
to provide material, which adds to the diversity of
content on the account. Certainly, for us, adopting
this methodology has increased the number provid-
ing content significantly. Tweeting via a known or
recognised department can often give credence to
material being posted and a professional slant. It is
also important that care is taken to give each cura-
tor an individual face and voice through their contri-
butions, by allowing them to write their own tweets,
post their own photos and by letting them choose
the subject matter.
This method of departmental tweeting has been
useful and beneficial for our department of over 30
members of staff, however, alternatives such as
allowing individuals to use their personal Twitter
accounts to share information about collections and
their research are often utilised in other museums
(often under the umbrella of organizational social
24
Tweet Text Tweet Link Impres-
sions
Total
Engage-
ments
Food of the
dinosaurs, a
Jurassic cycad
https://
twitter.com/
CardiffCurator/
sta-
tus/5230095226
72361472
2,764 76
An evolutionary
champion for
#FossilFriday.
170 million year
old Ginkgo, and
one from our
car park
@Museum_Car
diff
https://
twitter.com/
CardiffCurator/
sta-
tus/4925664261
17734400
682 113
Candy-striped
mint humbugs?
No, Cretaceous
corals from
Cambridge!
Smillotrochus
angulate for
#FossilFriday
https://
twitter.com/
CardiffCurator/
sta-
tus/5686896952
54835200
15,426 365
19th Century
fossil bryozoan
slides from the
Victorian bryo-
zoologist and
corset-maker
George R. Vine
#FossilFriday
https://
twitter.com/
CardiffCurator/
sta-
tus/5052521629
31556352
2713 88
Table 2. Total number of impressions and engagements
for sample tweets from the @CardiffCurator Twitter ac-
count.
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
media policies providing guidance). Whilst this op-
tion may be preferable and more efficient in smaller
organizations, it may not be the ideal option in larg-
er organizations, particularly where there are limits
on the number of accounts allowed. Large num-
bers of accounts can make it difficult to monitor
what is being tweeted about/from the organization,
and also in calculating the impact/success of using
social media to highlight collections. Additionally, it
can be tricky to successfully blur or separate the
lines between employee’s work and personal lives,
so departmental accounts can give a viable option
for institutional tweeting.
A further benefit of setting up a departmental ac-
count is that the account stays with an organization
and is not effected by the movement of staff to and
from roles. If personal accounts are utilised to build
up the twitter presence of collections, this can be
lost if the account holder moves to a new organiza-
tion. Thus new staff may have to restart the pro-
cess of developing an audience for the collection.
Helping hand
Setting up a departmental account can be problem-
atic initially, particularly for those new to social me-
dia. There is often a lack of knowledge of the best
way to create material (e.g. how to construct a
tweet of 140 characters, how to make content en-
gaging/relevant to the target audience and more
successful), what is suitable for each platform and
a lack of understanding of the importance and use-
fulness of social media. There are also practicality
issues such as finding time to produce content and
adapting methods to deal with the flow of content
between curators and those posting material. Thus
getting everybody involved and on-board takes
time. Providing good support can make a huge
difference to bridging this gap during initial stages.
This can be done effectively using social media
champions to impart training/knowledge (for in-
stance, guidelines from Guerra & Pansters, 2014:
31 about constructing tweets) and feedback, and
having a framework in place to organize material
as discussed above. Once people are on-board it
is important to keep momentum by providing feed-
back on the effectiveness of posts via analytics.
This is done for the @CardiffCurator account by
making data available in a readily accessible for-
mat each month for staff across the department
and providing regular updates at departmental
meetings to discuss best practice and ideas.
Conclusions
The journey to having a departmental face on so-
cial media has been challenging but has highlight-
ed the huge benefits of using these platforms in
promoting collections and their importance, re-
search and events. The Twitter account for exam-
ple, regularly receives between 150,000 and
175,000 impressions each month, acquainting to
some 5,000 per day. Whilst not all users will en-
gage with content, it is clear that this provides us
with a large audience that potentially may not oth-
erwise engage with our collections physically, either
through museum visits or loans.
Additionally, it is an effective vehicle to answer en-
quiries and an ideal way to become connected with
a variety of different communities (other museums,
our local community or natural history societies for
example). Many enquiries received are from people
outside of the museum network from broad de-
mographics. It is a great way to communicate with
different audiences and a good way to look at the
interdisciplinary facets (such as art, social history
etc.) of our collections. This can be clearly shown
from the variety of followers engaging with content,
something that can be ascertained when calculat-
ing metrics by hand. Often the different angles that
we look at collection objects from via social media
is one that engages broad audiences. #SciArt is
just one example of how people from different
backgrounds can share a common interest in the
same specimen as specimens are often both beau-
tiful and interesting. Learning what audiences find
engaging on social media also provides insight for
other engagement activities such as open days and
behind the scenes tours.
Effective teamwork, good communication and to-
getherness are vital to build a departmental profile.
It is also prudent to link in with other departmental
accounts across the organization in addition to the
main institutional account(s) to get feedback, share
good practice ideas and benchmark. Effective and
strong branding is important for raising profiles, and
this can be achieved by promoting logos on T-
shirts, tablecloths and advocacy cards.
This case study provides information about tech-
niques that have been beneficial for a departmental
account in a National Museum promoting natural
history collections. Whilst this may not be totally
applicable to individuals working with smaller col-
lections, many of the vehicles and techniques used
may be useful.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank members of staff in the
Natural Sciences Department of Amgueddfa Cymru-
National Museum Wales who contribute daily to social
media content. In particular our social media champions
Katherine Slade, Caroline Buttler and Andrew Haycock
whose tireless efforts in support and providing content are
vital to the success of outputs. Also to Annette Townsend
and Julian Carter who run the @NatHistConserve Twitter
account, which details all of the conservation activities
within the Natural Sciences Department. The authors
would additionally like to thank Sara Huws (Digital Con-
tent Officer) at the museum for increasing our skills and
knowhow and also for her endless encouragement via
Tweet-ups, Twitter Bulletins and support, and the two
reviewers whose comments greatly improved this paper.
25
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
26
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Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
Appendix
Part of the Tweet Metrics for the @CardiffCurator Twitter account from July 2015 generated through the
Twitter Analytics dashboard with added information on the number of images included in each tweet, and
details of certain accounts that retweeted us. Spread sheet formatted for easier consumption by depart-
mental staff.
Information from the Twitter Analytics dashboard for July 2015 for the @CardiffCurator Twitter account
27
Journal of Natural Science Collections
2016: Volume 3
28
Article
Social media has revolutionized the way research and museum collections communicate with the general public by disseminating knowledge and information in real time. Currently there are limited studies examining the use of social media by museums and entomological collections to engage the general public online. Social media has the power to promote museum and collection events, research, and staff, as well as raise awareness of entomological collections and demonstrate their relevance to the public, industry, policy makers, and potential students of entomology. Here we introduce SCOPE, a new framework for promoting museums and entomological collections using social media. The SCOPE framework streamlines strategy development, content choice, refinement of online engagement, choice of social media platform, and evaluation of social media campaigns using altmetrics. Case studies from the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO, and National Museums Scotland following the SCOPE framework are provided so that other museums, entomological collections, staff, and students can replicate it to develop and maintain their own social media presence. © The Authors 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Online social media tools can be some of the most rewarding and informative resources for scientists-IF you know how to use them.
Social media – unleashing museum collections and their curators [Online], http:// advisor.museumsandheritage.com/industry/social -media-unleashing-museum-collections-and-theircurators
  • J Freedman
Freedman, J. 2015. Social media – unleashing museum collections and their curators [Online], http:// advisor.museumsandheritage.com/industry/social -media-unleashing-museum-collections-and-theircurators/ [accessed 20 November 2015].
Museum Analytics Action Research Project (ARP)
  • R Guerra
  • F Pansters
Guerra, R. & Pansters, F. 2014. Museum Analytics Action Research Project (ARP). Utrecht: INTK, p.39.
Worms for Wednesday [Online], https:// stori fy.com/CardiffCurator/worms-for-Wednesday
  • K Mortimer
  • A S Y Mackie
  • T Darbyshire
Mortimer, K., Mackie, A. S. Y. & Darbyshire, T. 2015. Worms for Wednesday [Online], https:// stori fy.com/CardiffCurator/worms-for-Wednesday [accessed 5 June 2015].
Magnificent Molluscs [Online], https://storify.com/ Cardiff Curator/monday-for-molluscs
  • K Mortimer
  • H Wood
  • J Gallichan
Mortimer, K., Wood, H. & Gallichan, J. 2014. Magnificent Molluscs [Online], https://storify.com/ Cardiff Curator/monday-for-molluscs [accessed 5 June 2015].
Adrian in the Amazon -final part
  • A Plant
Plant, A. 2015. Adrian in the Amazon -final part [Online], http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/blog/2015-05-01/
Tweets with photos drive much higher engagement across all metrics
  • A Stadd
Stadd, A. 2014. Tweets with photos drive much higher engagement across all metrics [Online], http:// www.adweek.com/socialtimes/tweets-withphotos/495601 [accessed 10 August 2015].
Twitter and your organization
  • E P Stewart
Stewart, E. P. 2010. Twitter and your organization, in Twitter for Museums: Strategies and tactics for success. A collection of Essays. Edinburgh: Museums Etc: pp.44-63.