Social Media Strategy FY17-20

Goal 1: Tell Great Stories

Every document in our holdings is an opportunity for great storytelling. We find and choose stories that resonate with our audiences, make emotional connections, and increase understanding of our shared history. We reflect on what makes stories successful so that we have a clear understanding of our message and we know what our audiences respond to. Our audience recognizes our brand and voice, and feels an emotional connection to our stories: they want to follow us because of who we are and what we do.

A dedicated social strategy and production team (“the team”) provides direction and coordination for effective messaging. This team works to bring staff ideas to life through research, development, design, production, project coordination, and partnerships. See 4.1 for more information about the creation of the team and the skillsets and tasks required to support a social media community across the agency.

Action:  The team coaches staff content creators in how to use the content strategy to craft great stories and set success metrics that illuminate audience interests through data.

Action: The team creates a Digital Plan for all projects. The Digital Plan template functions as a checklist of best practices and is also a capsule strategy to guide each campaign and project. The project/content owner and the team collaborate on the plan. The framework helps content creators set goals and strategies, show evidence of success, and reflect on lessons learned post-project.

Action: The team coordinates the logistics for different levels of staff involvement that minimize the labor-intensive nature of social media account management. Greater staff participation is encouraged through scalable roles. In some cases the role could be managing an account full-time; in others, it could be short-term, project-based participation, or as a content provider.

Action: The team establishes and leads a Social Media Idea Lab to support NARA staff in honing their social media skills. It will include four areas of specialization:

Data Lab The goal of the Data Lab is to foster smart and creative uses of our social media data through insights into what content performs well with audiences and why.
  • The team establishes a weekly workshop for content creators across NARA to get hands-on experience in social media data analysis.
  • Content creators use the workshops each week to track audience engagement with their posts, channels, and campaigns. They learn to use analytics tools and understand the trends that result from their published content.
  • In the spirit of open data, the team summarizes and shares these data trends with staff and the public on a weekly basis using a social media data dashboard.
  • Content creators use this information to design campaigns and posts.  
Idea Lab The team works with staff to develop new ideas into actual projects by helping with
  • brainstorming
  • platform selection
  • editorial assistance
  • visual design guidance
  • and technology research.  
The team connects staff with the resources (designer, developer, editors) they need to turn an idea into a reality.
Technology Lending Library The team works with Business Support Services to maintain and loan out equipment—such as scanners, cameras, and handheld devices—to increase staff participation in social media.
Learning Library The team creates and maintains tip sheets on best practices—templates, models, examples, and studies—so that content creators don’t need to start projects from scratch.   As a result, content creators have a shared knowledge about the best ways to plan, develop, and evaluate content for maximum impact.

Action: The team works with social media content creators to create an agency-wide content strategy that outlines the goals, objectives, defined measures of success, timeline, partners, and post-production reflection.

Action: Staff use the content strategy as a guide to create everyday posts, special campaigns, and longer-term editorial plans.

We excel in the venues that we choose to participate in and reevaluate the projects that don’t meet our needs. We recognize that social media success is labor intensive. We want staff to have time and resources to engage with projects that make the most impact with our audiences. Making the best use of staff time means making hard choices about what not to do.

Action: The team helps content creators focus on a small number of projects. Content creators focus on depth and quality and move away from the current emphasis on quantity, sometimes using fewer platforms and posting less. Content creators are able to say no to projects that take time but have little impact.

Action: The team procures and maintains a Social Media Analytics Dashboard for staff that visualizes social media metrics, giving content creators feedback and concrete data on what is working and what is not.  Data is available to all content creators so that they can make strategic decisions about platforms to add or remove. To encourage open data and transparency, the dashboard can be viewed by the public.

Action: Content creators use analytics to evaluate the performance of our posts. We create content that is successful and avoid content that does not perform well.

Action:  Our curators select records for an exhibit to give visitors the best experience in a museum, and we apply this approach to our social media platforms. The team plans workshops led by NARA curators on how they select, edit, and plan exhibits that draw audiences in.

Our content is professionally designed and reflects our status as a world-class cultural institution. As a visual medium, social media must be sophisticated and eye-catching. All National Archives social media content meets visual design standards that reinforce our brand and match the expectations of today's image-based social platforms.

Action: The team makes style guides, tip sheets, tutorials, and templates available to all staff so that they can can write well-crafted stories and create high-quality images and other multimedia formats.

Action: Members of the team have professional graphic design and video production skills so that they can help content creators create and maintain a strong visual identity. The team produces graphics, interactive tools like quizzes, and video shorts that can be embedded in social media platforms.

Action: The team creates a workflow that makes it easy for content creators to work with designers.

Action: The team creates or helps provide templates and tools for content creators to use to make graphics according to our brand-aligned designs.

Data plays a critical role in helping NARA create social media content that is responsive to its audiences. We use data in various ways to help us tell great stories.

  • After each project, content creators collect metrics, draft insights, and make recommendations.
    • Reach: How many people saw our content? How did they find us? On what platforms? What devices did they use?
    • Audience: Who did we reach? Is it the intended audience? Are they new or repeat audiences? What attracted them? How can we convert them to deeper levels of engagement?
    • Engagement: What actions did people take? Did they comment, share, like, reply? What kinds of comments did we get? What is the sentiment of the reaction?
  • Weekly: The team uses an analytics tool to measure stats on our most popular posts and shares them via the Declarations staff blog in a Friday roundup.
  • Monthly: The team hosts sessions for content creators to look at social media successes and lessons learned.
  • Quarterly: The team helps content creators review data from each platform to see if our efforts are reaching and engaging the intended audiences. We discuss what is and isn’t working, and use the content strategy to help close out platforms or change direction.
  • Annually: The team holds a year-in-review “retreat” using Google Hangouts. Content creators volunteer to give a three-minute talk about a success (or failure) on a platform.

#ElectionCollection Early in the planning of the 2016 #ElectionCollection challenge, we created a digital plan to identify our goals, tactics, and success measures. After launching the challenge, we tracked these metrics weekly to understand how the project was performing and to continually improve our content and audience engagement.   

  • What People are Saying: “...#ElectionCollection, which has moved thematically through different kinds of material culture related to elections, is exposing the public to a whole host of new historical sources. Institutions like the National Archives can encourage, prompt, and engage in discussion, but they do not have control over what people say, how they say it, or if they say it at all. Social media campaigns like #ElectionCollection are conversation starters, touchpoints to spark new ideas, whether or not these new ideas appear on social media. ” -Hi(stories) on Twitter