Jenn Lyon is the current Community Manager for the social media team at Colonial Williamsburg. She describes her background as different than most in social media since she had a PhD in American History from the University of Florida. She has previous experience working in the museum field through internships at Monticello and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She knew while in graduate school that her path would not lead he into academia or teaching. Jenn believes she is at the job she “dreamed of finding, but never knew existed”.
Although most institutions call this job a Social Media Manager, Colonial Williamsburg has given it a different term. Community Manager, according to Jenn, is someone who handles the social media and much more. Her duties include everything from developing social media strategies, creating a “brand awareness” through posts, converting followers into on site visitors and much more. She sees her job as more than posting on social media and that is something I admire. Working in social media means more than just posting for likes, it means understanding your audience and how to engage them online and on site.
Jenn manages all the social media platforms for Colonial Williamsburg. This includes: Facebook (both the main page and the Historic Trades and Skills page), Twitter, Google+, Instagram (the main channel and The Taste of CW which focuses on food), YouTube, Snapchat (colonialwmsburg), Pintrest, and even Vine. Jenn explained that some of these formats the site had a presence so that no one else would take the name, but that for the majority of her time she focus mainly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. And although she manages the Historic Trades and Skills page on Facebook, the posts and replies are done by the craftspeople themselves. She told me that before she took over each trade had their own page. This created a lot of Facebook pages and confusion for their audience. To help everyone out, the team helped the craftspeople delete all the excess pages and create the Historic Trades and Skills page we see today.
One unique part of Colonial Williamsburg and their presence online is their blog. Making History Now predates the rise of social media (the first post was in 2009) and is a great addition to the strategy of Colonial Williamsburg. The blog allows people who aren’t necessarily on social media to follow along through e-mail subscriptions. This platform also allows the team to control their message and write more than what can be said in 140 characters. Being able to have blogs written by different members of the staff on all different types of topic gives the audience a great sense of how Colonial Williamsburg is the perfect place to visit and learn more about each day. One of their most popular posts was on April Fool’s Day last year and if you haven’t read it I would suggest checking it out here. I believe that these posts really expand on the social media strategy of the site and show how they connect wth their visitors.
I know that my conversation with Jenn gave me some great insight about how social media should be handled in the museum world. She says that they “want to be the type of brand that can engage with and expect responses”. So please take a listen and comment below!