This panel explored the development of a digital strategy as a foundation for meaningful digital engagement with audiences, both new and established. Papers considered the development of a digital strategy at a service level, those aimed at a particular audience and those growing out of a major exhibition or event.

Joanna Terry, Staffordshire County Record Office

This paper will look at the how Staffordshire Archives and Heritage developed a Digital Engagement Strategy to coordinate different digital channels, and used it to promote the Service internally and externally. It will assess the reasons for having a strategy; how to get staff buy in to use social media and empower them to use it to promote the service.

In 2013 Staffordshire Archives and Heritage dipped its toe into the water of social media by establishing a Facebook page. After moderate success the Service assessed the value of it and whether to continue adding other channels such as Twitter and blogging. Initial use of Facebook was limited to just two staff and this meant that it was not really embedded into the Service and was perceived as ‘something else to do’.

In 2014 the Service started developing a Digital Engagement Strategy assessing existing and potential channels; potential audiences; and how to engage staff in using new technology to promote the collections and ‘behind the scenes’ work.

The Strategy was also shared with the Council Communications Team and taken to the Joint Archives Committee for approval by members to ensure visibility of the work and engage members in promoting the Service.

The paper concludes with a case study on the Christmas Truce letter which generated global coverage on digital and analogue channels and ultimately physical visits to an exhibition in a local church.

The Service has subsequently identified its own performance measures for the Strategy. There are currently no national guidelines for measuring social media; something which could be developed for the future?


Lisa Snook and Victoria Bryant, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

Archive Services have adopted new technologies to engage customers outside of the search room, promote activities, highlight collections, provide information, encourage interaction and gain customer feedback.  Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS), in common with other archive services, has embraced Blogs, Twitter and Facebook in addition to our website to do this and these have proved to be very useful tools. However nothing stays the same in the world of digital media and recent analysis has indicated that these forms of social media particularly appeal to those aged 25 and above. Younger people actively use social media for information and interaction, but are less likely to use these platforms.  As part of our aim to engage more diverse audiences, we are particularly interested to learn more about alternative forms of social media favoured by younger people, and how to inform and engage young people in a digital environment.

Using our partnership with the University of Worcester, WAAS is about to embark upon a new project to understand better how to reach younger audiences, with particular emphasis on those under-21 and the student population. We will work with focus groups and student Archive Ambassadors to determine what media is most popular and to engage with young people to deliver the content

This paper will share our learning from this project with the sector, discuss findings and encourage suggestions and discussion about experiences of using different forms of digital engagement to ensure it truly is engaging.

Sarah Price, University of Durham

In the summer of 2015 Durham University Library is playing host to an exhibition entitled Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt. Designed to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the first issue of this most iconic document, the exhibition takes the view that Magna Carta was born out of an act of rebellion and is part of a long and continuing tradition of resistance against authority. It also considers that behind rebellion is the history of citizenship. Rebels were citizens, but citizenship does not constitute a fixed set of ideas or values. It was – and continues to be – a contested concept. These are not ideas that can be explored via a simple transmission model and the curators will be using a variety of methods to encourage active engagement by the visitors and capture their views on the exhibition.

Although some traditional means of engagement and evaluation will be used, the exhibition will be deploying digital technology, including snapshot surveying of opinions and dialogue via Twitter. A dedicated Twitter feed is being built into the exhibition so that non-users can still participate and visitors will be asked to comment not just on the exhibition but also to record their reflections on key questions such as ‘Is a good citizen always an obedient citizen?’ that will change as the exhibition progresses. Visitors are also being asked to sign up to take part in a longer-term digital survey that will track attitudinal shifts in response to the exhibition and its themes.

This paper will reflect on the success or otherwise of using digital technology to engage with audiences who are not necessarily familiar with the platforms and how this can be adopted by other organisations. It will also consider whether digital surveying can assist in capturing data that can be used for REF case studies.