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A People's Journey, A Nation's Story: Sharing American History Through the African American Lens

Gold Honor in Cultural Institution

Audience Honor in Cultural Institution


Social media serves as the voice of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture online. Through social media, we promote the Museum's mission to educate a global audience, and expand the Museum's brand recognition. As a digital tool, social media enables us to expand on the stories the Museum tells, and give people greater access to those stories, our experts and our world-class collection. We use brand guidelines and research to shape our content, and to target platforms that are popular with audiences identified as priorities for Smithsonian messaging.

Social media is a growing, constantly evolving landscape. In 2009, we maintained two platforms: Facebook and Twitter. Now we have six: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and YouTube. According to each platform's unique functionality and audience, our content is tailored to communicate effectively and foster engagement cross-platform.

This variety of platforms means that we can deliver content to a broad audience, where and how they prefer—something we know is important from our brand research. In 2017, we launched our A People's Journey, A Nation's Story digital strategy. This strategy sets priorities for social media based on goals for communicating about the Museum, real-time social engagement, and making history part of the now.

Strategy and Execution

Our social media and digital engagement strategy serves as a focal point for a community of people committed to and interested in the African American experience; while creating ways to interact with the museum through online conversations, programming, interactive stories, and daily educational content. We use social media with a focus on the social; create a virtual space for people to ask questions, consider issues, exchange ideas and learn from each other as well as from us.

Strategic Goals


Social Campaigns

#HiddenHerstory: This campaign was designed to uplift the stories of women from throughout history who have been historically left out of narratives. We created a social media toolkit for fans to help us spread the word and posted daily about contributions from women during Women's History Month.

#APeoplesJourney YouTube Series: In partnership with YouTube, we developed an animated video series that made history accessible for younger audiences in engaging formats. We had videos voiced by actor Sterling K. Brown, scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, and YouTube creators.

#SmithsonianCypher: This campaign supported our Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap Kickstarter campaign to raise $250K to publish a collection of essays, music, and photos related to the pioneers of this American musical genre. We created a rap battle among our sister institutions and across the cultural field. We even had a guest appearance from Lin-Manuel Miranda!

#ANationsStory: This campaign amplifies the experiences of African Americans throughout history, and inserts those experiences as part of the narrative around what it means to be an American.


Our social engagement campaigns led us to have 3.5 Million engagements across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and allowed us to reach even more through our daily content posting. We have some of the most active fans in the Museum field and we continually look for ways to expand our reach beyond our physical walls. We are able to connect the content of the Museum to what's happening right now and share content that matters to our fans. We look for ways to provide historical context on issues related to social justice, and highlight the contributions of African Americans daily. Over the last year, we have gained over 150,000 fans across our three most popular social channels. These results come directly from our ability to create fast, engaging, and informative content, about African American history and culture.


Video for A People's Journey, A Nation's Story: Sharing American History Through the African American Lens

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture


Entry Credits