Social Media for Digital Humanities Projects: The Quilt Index as Social Media Success Story

Saturday, January 7, 2012
Sheraton Ballroom II (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Amanda Grace Sikarskie, Western Michigan University
Many digital humanities projects use social networking to meet goals such as expanding their audience base and exciting both new and existing audiences about content.  As a researcher with Quilt Index,, an online resource providing access to images and metadata for around 50,000 (and counting) historic and contemporary quilts, I have, with the support of the rest of the Quilt Index staff team (MacDowell, Richardson, Worrall, and Milne), spearheaded an aggressive social media campaign aimed at expanding and engaging audiences.

While the Quilt Index has a Twitter presence, as well as a blog and wiki, this poster will primarily focus on strategies implemented and lessons learned through the management of the Quilt Index fan page on Facebook.  The QI social media presence on Facebook has grown immensely in the past year.  Our weekly interactions with fans in the form of “wall posts” and “likes” have gone from an average of about 18 per week in October 2009 to about 90 per week in October 2010.  Facebook Insights, an analytics application, tells us that we are reaching an increasingly international audience through social media.  We now have nearly 1,600 fans, roughly quadruple our fan base of a year ago, including over 250 fans outside the United States, with growing followings in Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and South Africa.  Our social media content is now accessed in over 20 languages including Cherokee, Croatian and Catalan. 

Major topics to be covered on the poster include:

  • Implementing an ‘object of the day’ strategy
  • Internationalizing audience through social media
  • Strategies for real-time content co-creation and co-curation with users
  • The use of analytics applications to focus a social media campaign and more clearly define audience goals
  • Using information about social networking successes in a project’s future grant writing

This poster presentation will be of use to those who are unfamiliar with using social media with professional projects, as well as any historian who has done social networking with a digital humanities project, but wants to use (or use more effectively) one or more of the many analytics applications out there to improve their social media campaign, and even to find fodder for grants.

The Quilt Index is a joint project of The Alliance for American Quilts, MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University and the Michigan State University Museum. The project has been supported in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

See more of: Poster Session, Part 1
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