Friday, 18 July 2014

Let’s Get Social - Working to Promote the HIV/AIDS Collections

Although the main objective of the HIV/AIDS project is to catalogue the records and make them available for all users who have an interest in them;  it is also important that we promote the collections as widely as possible otherwise users won’t know that the records exist. The use of various social media platforms means that project updates are now available to anyone in any country in the world, which has opened up new avenues of communication that would not be available to the project otherwise.

Social media revolutionised the way we connect with our users!

LHSA as as institution has been involved in social media communication since 2009 and currently has a Facebook page, twitter feed, Flickr gallery and this blog. Having a range of communication methods allows our users to connect with is in a way that suits them and only link to the posts and feeds that interest them.

Some of our albums listed on Flickr
In terms of the HIV/AIDS project, the visual element of the collections means that social media is an excellent way to generate interest in the collections and the work to catalogue and preserve them. The HIV/AIDS collections involved contain a large volume of promotional postcards, information leaflets, business cards, posters and photographs.  Before the invention of social media, items like these could only be displayed in exhibitions in small numbers meaning that lots of the items could go unseen by many people who may be interested in them. Uploading these images to Flickr means that anyone searching the interenet for related topics will see the images and know where to access them should they wish to in the future. 

Screenshot of our Twitter Page
Searching a catalogue on-line, making an appointment and coming in to view records on a subject of interest can be a time consuming activity. However, through regular tweets we can contact users in 140 characters or less about items of interest or exciting developments within the archive.  We can also highlight changes to opening hours or search room closures due to events to ensure no one has a wasted journey to view our collections. Facebook allows us to give short project updates and talk about items of interest without alienating those with no time to read the blog. The great thing about social media is that no one misses out and we are able to promote the archive in ways that seemed imposible 20 years ago.
Example of a post from Facebook

Using social media allows us to make the collections fully accessible to anyone, anywhere at any time. The purpose of keeping archives is to tell their story to the world in an interesting way and social media allows for a flexible communication method that focuses on the collection, the staff and the users - the most important elements of any archive!

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