social media

Twitter Strategies for Historians

hOW TO bUILD yOUR hISTORIAN'S pLATFORM Do you have a Twitter strategy?

In this post, you will discover easy tactics you can use to increase awareness about history and your research and build your historian’s platform with Twitter.


Twitter Strategies

The are three strategies when it comes to Twitter: Conversation, Content Curation, and Spam Marketing.

I employ conversation and content curation as part of my Twitter strategy.



The conversation strategy involves tweeting when you want to have a conversation.

Users who follow this strategy log onto Twitter when they have time. They scan their timeline (the feed of everyone you follow), curated lists (lists you create with like users; I created a list of “historians”), or favorite hashtags (conversation topics) to see what conversations people are having and whether they want to contribute their thoughts. Sometimes conversational users start a conversation by tweeting a message or question.

Participating in conversations makes Twitter fun. However, conversations represent only half the power of Twitter.


Content Curation

Feedly at WorkDo you like discovering interesting blog posts, news stories, or information about new exhibits, events, or places to visit or eat?

Many Twitter users do, which is why becoming a content curator can help you build a following on Twitter.

A content curator finds interesting information to share and shares it.

I am a content curator.

Every morning I log into Feedly, an app that allows you to find, subscribe to, view, organize, and share blog content, news articles, and YouTube videos. The app displays the headlines for all of the internet content I subscribe to within categorized lists. As I eat breakfast, I scan article headlines. When I find an interesting title, I click on it so Feedly opens the full article in a new internet browser tab. I skim the full article and decide if I want to read and/or share it. If I want to share it, I create and schedule a tweet for the article (more on scheduling tweets below).


Spam Marketing

I do not recommend this strategy, but it exists. Some Twitter users create accounts for the sole purpose of tweeting ads for their product or service.


How to Tweet When You Aren’t On Twitter

If you follow me on Twitter (@lizcovart), you have likely noticed that I tweet a lot and if you really pay attention to my feed you know that I tweet the same articles 2, and sometimes 3, times per day.

TwitterIn fact, I tweet at least once per hour; I tweet 2 or 3 times per hour when my followers are most active.

With all of this tweeting you may be surprised to learn that most days I check Twitter 2 or 3 times per day for a total of 10-15 minutes.

Would you like to know the secret of how you can use Twitter all the time and yet only spend 10-15 minutes actively using the platform?

My secret: I use a scheduling service to schedule my tweets.

There are many services you can use either for free or for a monthly or annual fee. They include Buffer, Edgar, SproutSocial, HootSuite, and Social Oomph. I have used two of these services.


Buffer QueueBuffer allows you to schedule up to 10 tweets for free at times you choose. You must join Buffer's "Awesome Plan" to schedule more than 10 tweets. The Awesome plan costs $102 per year, or $10 per month, and it allows you to schedule an unlimited number of tweets.

At first, 10 tweets per day proved enough. As I followed more blogs and befriended more bloggers, 10 tweets became inadequate. I upgraded to the unlimited tweet plan within 4 months.

Buffer's Awesome plan enabled me to schedule tweets on a 24-hour schedule, which allowed me to reach new audiences. It also permitted me to schedule tweets multiple times per day.

I used Buffer for 18 months and the service worked great until I started podcasting and needed a more robust service to share my episodes evenly.



Edgar Categories

I love Edgar. Edgar uses a calendar and category queues to share your content evenly. Unlike Buffer, Edgar stores all of the content you put into your queues for continued use.

When you sign-up for Edgar, the platform invites you to create content queues or categories. Categories represent the topics of the content you like to share.

After you create your category queues, you fill them with content. I used a feature called “bulk upload” to upload blog and podcast tweets from a spreadsheet into the appropriate categories; I add content to my “history” queue every morning.

Before you can put Edgar to work, you have to create a content calendar. A content calendar is a schedule of when you want content from each queue to tweet.

Edgar Content Calendar or Tweet Schedule

With calendar and content in place, Edgar will tweet what you want, when you want.

What I love about Edgar is that once the software tweets a preloaded tweet, it moves that tweet to the bottom of the queue. Edgar will tweet your content again once it shares all of your other preloaded tweets.

Edgar saves me time and ensures that all my podcast episodes share evenly. Additionally, Edgar has made it easy for me to share and call attention to old blog content, much of which is "evergreen" or information that is always good.


Final Thoughts

I love Twitter and have found it to be a powerful tool to practice digital public history. Admittedly, not everyone needs a $49 per month scheduling service to build their historian’s platform with Twitter. I use the service to promote my podcast and history. I am also willing to make this investment because Twitter is a large component of how I work as digital public historian.

Although I use a scheduling service, I do not abuse it like many internet marketers do. I limit my scheduled tweets to 1-3 time per hour, I tweet two articles that other people wrote before I tweet a Ben Franklin’s World episode or a blog post I wrote. I also pause my scheduling service when I go on vacation or live-tweet conferences.

More on how to tweet a conference in my next post.


Why I Tweet & Why You Should Too

hOW TO bUILD yOUR hISTORIAN'S pLATFORMDo you use Twitter? Would you like to know more about how you can use Twitter to build your historian’s platform?

This post is the first in a 3-part series on how I use Twitter and how you can use it to build your historian’s platform. In this post, I will reveal why I love Twitter and why I use it.

The second post will discuss Twitter strategies you can use to draw attention to history and your research. The series will conclude with tactics for tweeting conference panels.


Why I Tweet

Twitter is my social media network of choice. I dabble on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, but Twitter is where I prefer to spend my time on social media.

I love Twitter for three reasons:


1. Conversations and Networking

Twitter serves as my virtual watercooler. I am an unaffiliated scholar who often works from home or in cafes and libraries. This work-life offers great flexibility, but it can often be lonely. Twitter helps me cut the loneliness by allowing me to interact with colleagues when I want and need to.

John Quincy Adams TwitterWhen I need a break from my work, I visit Twitter to see who else is hanging out online. I often start with the people on my friends and family feed, but I also check in with my favorite hashtags to see if anyone is talking about topics that interest me. You can find all sorts of different conversations if you know which hashtags to follow.

Note on Hashtags: Hashtags are the words with # in front of them. They let users know that a tweet is part of a larger conversation by defining either the audience or topic the tweet addresses. For example, #Twitterstorians is a tweet for historians on twitter. #RedSox lets fellow fans know you want to talk about the team.


Chatting on Twitter has helped me expand and maintain my social and professional networks. I have met many fantastic colleagues on Twitter by sharing information about history, asking questions, and by answering the questions of others.

Drawing of a bird holding a hashtag for social media tagI frequently meet fellow historians on Twitter before I meet them in person. Our virtual relationship gives us an advantage. When we meet in person at a conference, or during a research trip, we often fall into an easy conversation because we already know what we like to talk about. Moreover, since we already know each other we are keen to introduce each other to our friends, which expands both of our professional and social networks.

Twitter Tip: If you would like to meet other historians on Twitter checkout the hashtags #Twitterstorians, #Historians, and #PublicHistory.


2. News Source

Twitter provides me with a quick and easy way to check the news. Between the news sources and people I follow, I almost always know when something big, tragic, or important has happened. The people I follow almost always share links to interesting history, news, and sports articles too.


3. Digital Public History

Twitter not only connects historians with colleagues, it also connects people who love history with history and historians.

networkingTwitter allows users to share information quickly and unlike Facebook and other platforms that use algorithms to curate feeds, anyone who follows you or the hashtags you use will see the information you share.

Historians can, and do, use Twitter to increase awareness about history-related exhibits, tours, books, events, blog posts, conferences, and news. Sharing and promoting this information helps non-historians stay up-to-date with history-related news. It also helps them feel more comfortable about asking historians questions about history, what historic sites they should visit, and what history books they should read. This type of tweeting and interaction qualifies as public history.



Twitter allows historians to connect with colleagues, get news, and practice digital public history. This is why I love it.

In my next post, I will reveal strategies you can use to better enjoy Twitter and for how you can use it to build your historian’s platform.


5 Must-Have Experiences for History Graduate Students

Must-HaveIf you enrolled in graduate school today, what courses would you take? What experiences would you make sure you had before you graduated?

For the last few weeks I have been reflecting on theses questions.

A prospective graduate student asked me to lunch to learn more about my grad school experiences. He wanted advice about how to apply, what courses he should take, and what experiences he should have while in graduate school.

I gave him advice about what I would do if I enrolled in graduate school today. The advice amounted to five different courses or experiences.

In this post you will learn about the what I think are the five must-have experiences for a history graduate student today.



I would like to note that I had a fantastic graduate school experience.

I enrolled in a funded program that was focused on collaboration. I also worked with an advisor who took the time to teach me how to write, teach, research, and apply for funding.

My advice does not stem from any deficiencies in my program, but from how technology and the economy have changed over the last decade.


5 Must-Have Courses & Experiences

In my opinion, these are 5 experiences that history graduate students should strive to have while in graduate school.


1. Keep an Open Mind to Non-Academic History Careers

I wish I had kept an open mind to non-academic history careers while in graduate school.

As a grad student, I thought I wanted to be a professor and I had rather strong feelings about an academic career path.

I had entered graduate school with a bit of public history experience; I spent five summers working as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service in Boston. I respected the work of public historians, but I had decided I wanted to do more research and writing than many public historians get the opportunity to do.

Open MindI attended talks by the public historians my department occasionally brought in, but during each talk I told myself that I wanted to research and write more. I wanted to be like my advisor, someone who conducts serious scholarly work and then volunteers his time to bring that work to public history institutions.

The funny part about my young, naive view: By the end of my fourth year I began having doubts about working as an academic.

In fact, my extracurricular activities suggested that I might be better suited to a career in public history. My frequent presence in the archives led me to volunteer at a couple of the historical societies and museums where I researched.

Even with my volunteer work and doubts, I clung to the idea of an academic career.

My close mindedness prevented me from seeking internships and volunteer opportunities that could have helped me land a public history job.

When I finally admitted that I did not want to be a traditional academic (ca. 2011/2012), I had missed my opportunity to prepare for the public history job market.

The public history job market is just as competitive as the academic job market and, despite what many professors had told me, most public history institutions do not want to hire traditionally-trained historians.

What type of historian do they want?

My experience has been that public history institutions want candidates with experience in creating digital exhibits, some background in nonprofit management and donor cultivation, and experience, or at least knowledge, of how to apply for institutional grants. The ability to do traditional historical work, i.e. research, writing, analysis, and interpretation, is a bonus.

This realization leads me to recommend the next two graduate school experiences.


2. Find an Internship in Non-Profit Development

Graduate students have a lot of work, but I wish I had found a way to intern in the business or development office of a nonprofit.

An internship in a nonprofit development office would have allowed me to enhance and develop skills in donor cultivation, customer service, accounting, and applying for institutional grants. These are transferrable skills that would allow anyone who had them to compete for jobs with nonprofit organizations as well as for positions within in big corporations or small businesses. These skills would also come in handy for any historian who wants to start their own business.


DH Historian3. Take a Digital Humanities Course or Seek an Internship with a DH Project

Digital humanities is the way of the future.

DH projects vary from helping scholars make sense of large amounts of data to websites that make history more accessible to non-specialized audiences.

Digital humanists perform important work.

Experience in DH helps historians become better and more well-rounded scholars. In my experience, digital humanists have a knack for looking at data and the ways scholars can contextualize it in ways that differ from non-digital humanists.

Additionally, many DH projects lend themselves well to acquiring new and transferrable skills in computers and technology; skills historians can use to apply for different types of academic and non-academic work.


4. Develop Social Media Skills

Today, I blog, tweet, and hold conversations on Google+. However, I did not develop a fluency in social media until after graduate school.

If I enrolled in graduate school today, I would devote a bit of time to developing social media skills.


3 Reasons:

1. Social media makes scholars more productive.

Historians who blog tend to write more than scholars who don’t blog.

Blogging also helps scholars think through and develop their ideas. The act also helps them develop a regular writing practice.

Many of us take thinking and writing for granted, but they are skills that get better and sharper the more we do them.

If I were to enroll in graduate school today, I would look into forming or joining a group blog like The Junto. Group blogs provide all of the benefits of blogging, but spread out the work of blog maintenance.


Social Media2. Social media makes scholars more collaborative.

Whether you blog about an idea for your dissertation or tweet a question about a source, other scholars will find you and help you develop your ideas or find the source you seek.

Of course, being a social and collaborative process, you will get as much out of social media as you put into it. The more you converse with and help other scholars with their questions or ideas, the more you will benefit from scholars commenting on your work.


3. Social media will help you build your platform.

Being an active blogger, Facebook poster, or tweeter will help raise your profile among others who share your interests.

Social media can help you position yourself as a thought leader in your field or subfield.

Opportunities come to thought leaders by way of jobs, interview requests (which will enhance and raise your profile more), speaking opportunities, and possibly even book deals.

At the very least, social media can help you develop a following that will help you get a book contract; followings mean that you can market your books to hundreds, if not thousands, of potential book buyers.


5. Attend More Conferences

Conferences provide opportunities to network with other scholars and to learn about new scholarship.

Conferences can be expensive, but they provide invaluable networking opportunities.  Attending a conference may help you find an outside member for your dissertation committee, a potential reference for a job, grant, or internship opportunity, or a possible project collaborator.



The job market has changed a lot in the ten years since I enrolled in graduate school. My Five Must-Have Experiences are based on my graduate school and post-graduate school experiences.


Thoughtful-WomanWhat Do You Think?

If you were to enroll in graduate school today, what courses would you look to take or experiences would you look to have?

If you are enrolled in graduate school today, what course are you looking to take and what experiences would you like to have?


Coming Attractions: Book, Podcast, Blog, and Travel

Coming-SoonOver the next few months, Uncommonplace Book will feature posts about exciting projects, content, and trips. In this post you will find a sneak preview of upcoming blog posts as well as status updates on my 3 major projects.



For the last two months I have felt frustrated with my first chapter. I am just about finished with my second draft and until last week I felt like I had all the pieces of the story, but no idea about how they fit together.

Last week I had a eureka moment: Why should I begin my narrative with Henry Hudson?

The realization that I do not have to cover Hudson's voyage or the early days of the New Netherland and West India Companies has led me to decide that I will begin my chapter with an example from 1657. I will use this example to explore the community of Beverwyck and expound upon its earlier history when necessary.

Will this tactic work? I have no idea.

I am giving myself until Friday, August 15, 2014 to finish this draft. I need to be quick with this third draft because I have to move onto my second chapter by August 15, if I plan to finish 4 chapters by early February.  I have to have to submit a good draft of my fourth chapter to the Boston Early American History Seminar by February 3, 2015.



I have scheduled the first interviews for “Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History.” I begin recording on August 13.

I have requested 7 or 8 interviews and the responses have been positive. I have booked 5 interviews, I am coordinating dates with 2 guests.

My goal is to record most, if not all episodes on Wednesdays. A set recording day will allow me to better organize my workflow.

I am trying to book 1 guest per week as I would like to turn my twice monthly podcast into a weekly show by the beginning of 2015.

I am still looking for guests and plan to send out more e-mails once I have set the interview dates for the 3 guests I am coordinating with.

If you have a project related to early American history that you would like to promote to a non-specialized audience please checkout my “Be a Guest" information page. I would also be grateful if you would send the URL ( for that page to any historian you know who may like to be a guest.



Here’s a sneak peak at posts that will appear over the next several weeks.


Conference Recaps

I attended both the Conference on New York State History and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic conferences this summer.

You can expect to see 2 posts recapping panels from the CNYSH this month. The first post will summarize a panel about writing historical narratives. The second post will review a panel about life in the 17th-century Hudson River Valley.

I had the opportunity to attend several great panels at SHEAR. Topics include women and property, yellow fever, citizenship, relations between the United States and South America, early American contact with the Muslim world, and slavery and freedom. Recaps of these panels will appear over the next few months; they will be interspersed among other content.


TravelTravel Posts

I have 2 trips coming up that will likely result in multiple posts.

On August 20, I leave for 8 days in Zürich, Switzerland. Tim has to travel there for work and asked if I would like to accompany him. (A rhetorical question.)

Tim and I plan to tour Lucerne during the weekend and I will spend the rest of the week in Zürich visiting museums and cultural sites in the morning and working on my book revisions in the afternoon.

On September 13, Tim and I will embark on a cruise from Boston to Canada. Tim calls this trip a vacation, but I refer to it as “French and Indian War Tour 2014.”

The ship will stop in Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Québec City, and Montreal. I am wicked excited to travel down the St. Lawrence River and imagine how some of my Albanians used the river to conduct the fur trade.

I am also excited as our stops will include a look at the first Acadian settlement areas along the Bay of Fundy; Fortress Louisbourg, famous in New England for its capture by the Yankees in 1744; and Le Château Frontenac and the Plains of Abraham in Québec City. The British won a decisive battle over the French at the Plains of Abraham in 1759; the victory led to the British acquisition of Canada at the end of the French and Indian War in 1763.


Thursday Posts

In February, I mentioned that I would experiment with posting on Thursdays. Since that initial post I have posted nearly every Thursday.

Over the next several weeks you may see fewer Thursday posts.

I intend to remain as regular as possible with these posts, but I am working out a new workflow. I need to figure out how I can best add my podcast project to my present workflow that consists of book, blog, and freelance project time. As you know, some weeks present more challenges than others and I may have to give something up in order to meet my larger book, blog, and podcast goals.

You will not miss out on any content if I find that I need to reduce the frequency of my Thursday posts. I maintain a list of every post idea I have and I take notes at every conference, seminar, and event I attend. You will still receive great content here at Uncommonplace Book.


Share StoryShare Your Story

What projects, trips, new endeavors will you be working on over the upcoming weeks and months?


Refining My Niche

lightbulbDo you ever have the feeling that the left side of your brain doesn't know what the right side is doing? Or vise versa? I had this feeling a few weeks ago.


Aha Moment

After I wrote my "Getting to the Malleable PhD" post, it occurred to me what my personal narrative really is: I am an historian who strives to make well-researched history accessible.

The medium doesn't matter. I write, speak, and work with digital platforms.

My quest to make history accessible is why I am interested in how historians can write better, get published, use social media, and establish platforms.

We need to know how all of this works to produce accessible history projects.

My blog has always been about the practicalities of how to make history accessible, however I did not consciously realize this until my "Aha Moment" a few weeks ago.

It seems my left brain did not know what my right brain knew.


Human evolutionThe Evolution of My Niche

Blogging pundits will tell you that maintaining a blog is all about niche.

They advocate for as narrow a niche as possible because the more specific your interests the more likelihood you will find a dedicated group of readers.

Over the last 16 months or so, I have been widening my perception of my niche.

Initially, I blogged with an idea that I would write about being an independent historian, which is how I work.

A few months later, I started writing more about writing, so I thought I was writing for historians and non-historian writers.

Now I realize that my writing and interests have always been about history how to make it more accessible. That is the real reason why I write this blog.

This means I write for you, someone who is also interested in history and how to make it more accessible.



My realization won't change the types of posts I write, but it has helped me write more focused posts.

I hope that my realization will help you too.

I hope it will encourage you to think more about why you research, write, and present history.

These are fun and important ideas to think about.


Share-Your-StoryShare Your Story

What is your niche/personal narrative? How do all of your interests connect?