An adventure through social media

Over the last 6 months, our volunteer social media assistants, Carrie and India, have been helping create a buzz about Heritage Open Days (HODs) on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. As their time with us comes to an end, Carrie reflects on her experiences...

"Are we the same people I wonder when all our surroundings, associations and acquaintances are changed?" - Gertrude Bell

This thought provoking question was posed by Gertrude Bell - a Victorian female explorer, archaeologist and politician in the Middle East, and one of the extraordinary women I researched during my role as social media assistant with HODs. Although my experience volunteering for the festival wasn’t as daring as Gertrude’s, nonetheless I feel that I went on my own adventure into the heritage sector. Applying my passion for history outside of a university setting took me out of my comfort zone. However, I found that exploring England’s fantastic heritage events enabled me to interact with like-minded people and meet wonderful professionals in the sector, from photographers to National Trust curators. All of this introduced me to new ways of communicating creatively, in order to share England’s hidden histories.

What did I expect at the start of this grand adventure?

As a social media assistant, I expected to learn how to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in a professional setting and gain insights into the technical tricks of their algorithms and scheduling. In this regard all my expectations were met, but what I wasn't expecting was how creative and fun it could be as a form of expression. Instagram became a firm favourite of mine, allowing me to utilise my love of photography to bring to life the inspiring stories and words of wisdom I was uncovering. It seems like a picture really can paint a thousand words!

Carrie peers down the Grand Shaft Staircase in Dover, one of the first locations on her travels! ©HeritageOpenDays/OskarProctor

Highlights on my journey…

The first highlight of my journey was the research I did into the Extraordinary Women for this year’s festival theme. This year marked the 100 year anniversary of (selected) female suffrage, but it was fascinating to extend my research beyond this and uncover the contribution British women made to the world, from being independent explorers and aviators, to engineers working on Waterloo Bridge.

The second highlight of my time with HODs, was going on the road with photographers to capture the festival. There were so many brilliant events and I enjoyed spending two weekends sampling twenty of them. A particular personal favourite was visiting Clandon Park, a stately home destroyed by fire but undergoing active restoration. At Clandon, I was able to learn more about conservation methods and understand how tragedy can bring a community together and become a powerful knowledge-sharing and storytelling tool.

Change and new adventures...

This year’s festival is now over and I’m starting new academic and heritage endeavours. However, I will certainly be taking friendships, new creativity and social media skills with me into my future career!