Until fairly recently, social media has been seen as experimental and outside the realm of the essential work of our agency. Today that is simply no longer the case. Smart use of social media is now mission-critical to our agency. As the agency charged with advising Federal Agencies and the White House on the records implications of the technologies they are using, we must be out in front in our own use of these technologies. And all Federal Agencies and the White House are deep into the social media experience. And using social media channels in our own work, we can work more collaboratively, provide greater transparency for each other and the public, and invite the public to participate in our efforts.
We should understand the sea change that technology has brought to the American public and people around the world. According to a Pew report, 66% of online adults use social media platforms. By effectively engaging with social media tools, we are building and maintaining relevance with the public.
Many staff members at the National Archives have embraced social media–our communications staff is facile, many staff who interact with our user communities have created blogs and are tweeting, and all of our Presidential Libraries have both feet in the social media world. This is not a passing fad or a frivolous use of technology. It is the future. It will change even more rapidly than the traditional technologies we have been using. Therefore, we all need to be experimenting and keeping an eye on the new and emerging social media platforms because that is where our user communities expect to be meeting us. We have a big opportunity through social media to change the way people think about archives.
Today, it is no longer about a single voice disseminating information from the Archives. Our customers want deeper access to our staff and to hear the entire chorus of our voices. Our citizen archivists and engaged customers eagerly await more ways to participate and add their voices to the chorus. Together we can provide greater access to the records, and a deeper understanding of those records. Together we’ll amplify each other’s messages.
Let’s do it!