This month at the Social Scholar seminar we are going to look at social media campaigns for national festivals as an example of what can work well and what can be learnt from such campaigns. This should prove to be a useful session for those using or planning to use social media to promote and discuss events and projects. For full details check out our Event Page and register your interest to attend.

Title: Using Social Media for a National Festival (and Learning how to engage online)

Speaker: Dr Michael Eades (SAS)
Time: Wednesday 18 March 2015, 1pm-2pm
Location: Room 243 (Senate House)

Our speaker this week is Dr Michael Eades (School of Advanced Study) and as usual we asked him to answer a few questions for us.

SAS:Hello Michael. Thank you for agreeing to talk with us. Firstly, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Michael: I am the School of Advanced Study’s Cultural & Public Engagement Research Fellow, more often described as the SAS ‘Public Engagement Person’. I do various things in SAS, including my own research on the Festival in a Box project, but primarily I curate the School’s major outlet for public engagement activity: the Being Human festival of the humanities.  Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, and featured over 160 events across the country in 2014, hosted by around 100 universities and cultural organisations.

I’ve worked primarily in cultural and public engagement roles for just over two years now since completing my PhD at the University of Nottingham in 2012. My thesis looked at theories of community and engagement with/reception of culture, so I find my current work an incredibly rewarding way to continue exploring the ideas that informed that research in directly applied contexts. At SAS, my projects in this field have included everything from parkour on the roof of Senate House to curating a ‘human library’ of academics in Senate House Library. All great fun!


SAS: How important do you think social media is to public engagement work?

Michael: Very important indeed. Social media is changing the way that people interact and communicate – making ideas and the people behind them more accessible. But it is also raising some serious challenges. As communication speeds up and barriers break down, we have to be very careful to keep a sense of perspective and try to work with new technologies ethically.

With that said, both blogs and Twitter, particularly, were crucial to spreading the word about the Being Human festival. We worked really hard to use them to build up an online community of followers and fans of the festival. Essentially what we have at the moment is a small (but growing) army of ‘humanities geeks’ following us online. Exactly what we wanted!


SAS: What can we expect from you at the Social Scholar?

Michael: I want to do two things in my Social Scholar session. Firstly, I’ll go through some of the thinking behind the Being Human social media strategy in 2014 and some of the campaigns through which we built up a following. These included runaway successes such as our ‘shelfies’ campaign in autumn 2015, and some things that didn’t work so well, too.

The second thing that I want to do is to try to gather some ideas from the audience about what we might do for Being Human campaigns in 2015. It’s always good to do a bit of brainstorming for projects like this, so to anyone who is thinking of coming along… please do come with some ideas! I can’t promise not to steal them, unfortunately, but they’ll help us to keep raising public awareness of the humanities. That’s what the festival is there for and it’s a good cause.

To find out more about the seminar check out our Event Page and register your interest to attend. The seminar is FREE and open to all.