You might say, broadly speaking, that there are two approaches to social media: ‘open’ and ‘closed’. In the second week of June, the Web Team launched a new social media action plan that sits somewhere between the two.

With an open approach, all (or many) employees in an organisation are given access to Facebook and Twitter and encouraged to post whenever they want. With a closed approach, an organisation has a dedicated social media employee who generates all posts and tweets. (I did write ‘broadly speaking’ remember.)

Our new action plan involves a small, co-ordinated team of employees from across the Museum that take turns monitoring and posting on our main social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter). It’s not completely open, but it’s not closed either (we have a social media group on our intranet where all staff can share ideas and in fact, we make a point of following other Museum accounts, sharing and retweeting content).

Supported by the Web Team, each member of the social media team spends one day per week monitoring Facebook and Twitter (for no more than an hour). The focus is mostly on engaging with users (making sure we respond to their enquiries for example) and sharing not just our own news but also interesting science and culture links.

What difference has this new plan made? Let’s start with some Facebook stats for June. Compared to the previous 30 days (when we had very much an open approach):

- New likes increased by 26%.
- Monthly active users increased by 28%.
- Post views increased by 213%
- Post feedback increased by 165%

We’re yet to find a good tool for detailed Twitter statistics (if you know of one, please comment here or better yet, let us know via Facebook or Twitter), but we did see total followers increase by at least 6% (and we also estimate that we gained 50% more new followers in June than we did in May).

We think these are big improvements, especially when you consider that these increases are what you might call ‘organic’ - we didn’t run any marketing or advertising campaigns for our social media sites during that time. In fact, the only external driver (that the Museum orchestrated) was to return the Facebook and Twitter logos to our website homepage and that wasn’t until halfway through the month. And let's not forget that this new plan didn't start until the second week of June.

It's worth mentioning that our monitors bring enthusiasm, varying levels of experience and different backgrounds (we have people from web, science and culture in our social media team), all of which has made for a great variety of posts and tweets. Perhaps most important of all, we are engaging with users more consistently than we did before.