Public History and Social Media

How we represent ourselves on social media is an interesting topic. Of course, there will always be those that mask who they are by posing as something else, but that’s not quite what we’re going to look at. In a professional sense, our social media representation can help or hinder our careers. There are always warnings about being careful what you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter as potential employers will look you up and see the stupid picture you posted or arguably bigoted tweet you sent out which will cause them to reconsider your application. But past that there is the potential for networking and self-promotion through social media.

In my own ventures on Twitter I have not held myself to a very high professional standard that would be becoming of a historian, public or otherwise. And I don’t think I intended to at the present. While I have seen various historians and other professionals use their personal accounts to successfully promote their work and engage with their audience, I don’t see a reason to do that. I may be singing a different tune as I start a professional career in public history, however, I feel there are more appropriate venues for this kind of promoting.

In college I had many friends create “professional” accounts that now lay dormant in the Twitter-sphere. Most of them moved to Linked-In for networking as that is strictly what that website is for. In terms of self-promotion of exhibits or articles, Facebook seems to be more successful especially given that Facebook is a more “professional” social media platform than Twitter. In terms of personal blogging, I am still of the opinion that only by being supported by a larger entity, like a larger website or corporation, will these blogs ever gain relevance. To me, professional social media representation is best when it includes verification from a trusted entity, like a historical society or private corporation. And that doesn’t include a blue check mark.

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