Top Tips | Using social media to build an engaged online community

Katie Moffat follows up on her popular talk at the Museums + Heritage Show with some tips and links to help you use social media more effectively...

Last week I was a guest at the Museums & Heritage show, delivering a talk about how to improve the effectiveness of your social media activity and taking part in some ‘Ask the Expert’ sessions. It was an interesting couple of days. I spoke to many people from all sorts of arts, culture and heritage organisations and comments made about the challenges of delivering social media effectively were repeated many times. The top two issues cited again and again as barriers to effectiveness?

  • Lack of time and resource
  • No clear plan or strategy for the social media activity; in a nutshell this was typically described as, “We’ve got a Facebook page/Twitter account etc but we don’t really know what to do with it/we’re not sure it’s really achieving anything.”

So if that feels similar to where your organisation is with social media fear not, you are not alone. My advice is to go back to the beginning and really focus on what you want social media to help you achieve then spend some time thinking about your online audience, who are they? What do they like and dislike? What interests and excites them? Anyone can set up a Facebook page and post news about shows, events, exhibitions onto it but that’s missing the fundamental point about social media; it’s not another broadcast channel, like, for example email marketing, it’s a conversational tool and you have to put yourself in the position of your target audience sitting scrolling through their news feed or timeline. What will make them smile, laugh, be intrigued, surprised, excited? Try to develop a content strategy that tells the stories behind your organisation, the people, the objects, the place and try to look beyond your organisation and share stories about the wider world. Ask yourself, “When I look at our Facebook page/Twitter account can you immediately see why someone would want to to click follow or like? What’s will they get out of it?” If you’re only posting factual, dry information you’re missing the point.

The issue of lack of time and resource is a tricky one, except to say, prioritise ruthlessly, do one or two things very well, don’t try and spread yourself too thinly by opening up profiles on multiple networks. And measure and track everything, linked back to your overall goals, so that you can the value of you’re activity and ultimately, build a stronger case to get additional resource.

I said to lots of the people I met that I’d share links to some useful resources and reading about social media and analytics so here goes:

Google analytics


  • A good explanation of how the Facebook newsfeed algorithm works, this is vital to understand if you are running a Facebook page, just because someone likes your page, doesn’t mean they will see your updates:
  • Increasingly Facebook ads in order to ensure visibility for your content,this blog post gives lots of great detail on how to use the power editor feature, which is essentially a much better interface for placing ads

General – blogs & sites that provide useful social media articles

You may also be interested in the articles that I routinely bookmark on my Delicious account which you can find here plus you can follow us on @audienceagents and my own account, which is @katiemoffat.

We’d love to hear what kinds of successes you’ve had with social media and any lessons you’ve learnt along the way, so do leave us a comment.