Dominic Head, Digital & Marketing Officer at Historic Houses explains how they grew their online presence
Image: Hindringham Hall, Historic Houses member © Historic Houses
I run Historic Houses’ digital presence, campaigns and strategy. In my time here (18 months), we’ve begun quite a considerable digital transformation, having seen our Instagram following go dramatically up, doubling our Facebook following and website traffic in 2019, and now reaching 20,000 email subscribers to a newsletter started 12 months ago.
Before Historic Houses I worked at the Craft Potters Association/Ceramic Review magazine, successfully doubling their membership, taking their Instagram following from 0 to 100,000+ and managing campaigns to promote Europe’s leading international ceramics fair in London.
Historic Houses’ Instagram presence is what I most refer to as a highlight of our digital development over the last 18 months. The account, when I arrived in October 2018, consisted of 3,000 followers and around 300 posts. Within 1 year this had increased by over 1000%, and we’re now on 57,000 followers (and 442 posts) without any marketing spend on gaining followers.
Like all channels, this simply comes down to creating something that people enjoy and want to follow and then offering more of this. While there are some key things to avoid specifically when posting on Instagram, it’s also a platform that everyone can use and make successful.
“At Historic Houses we are only too aware of the importance of effective digital communications. Our new brand image has been designed for a digital era.”
- BEN COWELL, CEO OF HISTORIC HOUSES
Significantly increasing our digital profile and influence has been a big part of our overall objective to become more relevant and useful for our house members, and our strategy was and is to get to a stage where we could play a significant part in giving broader reach to their projects and needs. For example, during lockdown Hodsock Priory ran a competition to nominate a key worker to win various prizes, so I’ve been able to draw more people to that cause through Instagram Stories, while Instagram will be a big part in our push to highlight those parks and gardens that are re-opening after lockdown, which need help to promote their opening and claw back some of their lost income.
The next steps with the Historic Houses account are to introduce a concerted campaign of video stories with the aim to increase traffic directly from our Instagram account to the website and other channels. We’ve also begun an IGTV channel, helping us to reach an ever wider audience.
In the current climate, there is a significant and exciting opportunity for the heritage sector as a whole to upskill and become more digitally and creatively savvy. At Historic Houses, while our houses are closed, we’re now exploring a variety of exciting ideas to offer visitor members access to these extraordinary houses while locked away in their home. This includes podcasts, video tours, live stream events, educational activities and various online competitions, which we’ll be rolling out over the summer.