Social Media in the Modern Age of Preservation

Social media. Let’s talk about it. Are you into it for personal reasons? Professional reasons? Documentation reasons or disappearing conversations?

My, how different it is today than the days of AOL Instant Messenger (“AIM”) and Myspace. Who in the 20s-30s age range does not have fond memories of IM’ing your friends and your crush to all hours of the night and creating the perfect away message?

I love social media, to a certain extent. Sometimes it feels frivolous and ridiculous, but so be it. There are benefits, too. I love blogs and Instagram and Twitter, but gave up Facebook years ago and don’t care to learn Snapchat. To each her own, right? Social media has helped to grow my professional career within preservation as well as my preservation friendships and passion.


Instagram is my favorite.

Because preservation is a lifestyle, so to speak, our personal lives and our “personal brands” often include our professional life. How do you handle that on social media? I’m interested to know as to what you decide to share on your public social media accounts?

Preservation in Pink, the blog, has always been visible to the public, sometimes with more personal details than other times, but nothing that I would feel weird about if my employer read, for example. (Actually, my firm is very supportive of my outside-of-work preservation endeavors, for which I’m grateful.) Twitter @presinpink often gets my personal opinions (re: politics and policies) and the other sides of me (USA Skeleton, running, gymnastics fan, #btv topics), and Instagram for @presinpink is pure preservation (okay, sometimes the cats pop in to say hello).

However, I’m a documentation addict, so I use a private Instagram account to document my personal life (and then send it to Chatbooks for automatic photo albums. I love them.) Snapchat doesn’t seem to make sense to me, or Instagram stories. Why would want your pictures to disappear?! asks the preservationist. Someone explain this to me.

Preservationists and non-preservationists, do you use social media apps for professional or personal reasons? Do you use it for documentation? How do you decide what to put on which platform? Do you think preservation is one of those fields that warrants blurring the line between personal and professional?

Some days I have awesome field adventures. Other days, I’m stuck behind a desk. Preservation is often a lot of report writing and paper work!

And, a general social media warning, because it seems to me that combination professional and personal accounts are becoming more common: comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone has good and bad professional days: days stuck under paperwork and those in the field. We all have normal, rainy weekends and beautiful “instagrammable” vacations at some point. We all have successes, failures, struggles, and happiness. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

(Okay, off my soap box of social media. Please, chime in!)


8 thoughts on “Social Media in the Modern Age of Preservation

  1. George Walter Born (@george_w_born) says:

    I use social media for both professional and personal reasons — and I do find that historic preservation overlaps these categories. For professional matters I use LinkedIn and Twitter, both of which are view-able by all. LinkedIn hosts my online CV, and I use Twitter to push out articles and snippets that usually have some bearing on my professional life. FaceBook I keep for friends only. But occasionally I find that I post the same things on all three platforms. If I travel to an historic site, for example, and take a series of photographs, they may find their way into more than one social-media stream.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Hi George! Thanks for your comment. I like hearing how people have decided which social media platform works for them. Sounds like you have a good system.

  2. Susie says:

    “Why would you want pictures to disappear?” I loved this. I feel much the way you do about social media! Ultimately I’ve learned about so many cool things and found so many interesting people through Instagram/Twitter/blogs (like yours! 😊) that it’s worth it to put up with any negative sides. I also feel that preservation, as such an advocacy-oriented and always-changing field, works well in the social media setting.

  3. historysouthdakota says:

    I use Facebook, Instagram, and to a far lesser extent Twitter and LinkedIn (and does Flickr count?) for personal use, and FB and Instagram for professional uses. Several personal friends are in the history-related professions but my network tends to be loose. I just can’t keep up with Twitter and haven’t done enough in LinkedIn to know how to use it well.
    I generally only put up HP-related stuff on my personal accounts if they’re photos from places I visit on my own time, or links/stories I genuinely find interesting. I do often use my off-hours photos for work content when I “need” them–I can’t stand when I can’t find good and interesting photos of a given site out of our pool of photos at work. I also use my private phone for Instagram content when I’m on the road.
    For work, I use social media for promoting, educating about, and celebrating our programs and various historic sites. It’s also really useful for me as a news source about what is going on with sites in my state, with other states, and with national orgs.
    I do have cases when coworkers and supervisors question their value and returns for time spent prepping content. It’s not a strict generational split, but younger coworkers tend to be more familiar with the platforms and accept the value of social media visibility. So far, fortunately, I guess I’ve managed those questions sufficiently that I haven’t hit major obstacles for what platforms and content to use–I just got buy-in to start an Instagram account. But I do end up trying to watch my time when getting content ready… trying not to go too far down research rabbit holes too often or to take too long tweaking the graphic design elements. I tracked my time for a while, but don’t now. I do record stats weekly and keep snips of successful posts to report back at the end of each year. Nothing fancy, just something to show what’s happening.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Thanks for sharing your methods! Sounds like you have good system. It is very much what fits your goals. I’m no expert at keeping up with it! You have a good point with research rabbit holes. I find that that can happen to me on research projects, social media related or not.

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