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OHA Spotlight: Heather Welch and the OHA Instagram

It’s time for another OHA Spotlight!

Our blogger this month is Heather Welch, a PhD student at Georgia State University and a research assistant for the Oral History Association since 2015. This month marks the one year anniversary of the OHA Instagram, which Heather created and currently maintains. In this blog she discusses its conception.

Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, social media (a nebulous phrase meaning the carefully curated representation of ourselves on the internet) is part of our daily lives. It’s also a great platform for any organization to engage with its members, to put forth its objectives, and to be visible and present on the internet. The OHA had its own website, Twitter, and Facebook, leaving Instagram as an uncharted piece of the web for us. It seemed straightforward enough: create an account, post photos of something related to the OHA, engage with members, follow other institutions or organizations, and use the app as yet another means of disseminating information. The reality, however, was a little different.

The idea for the Oral History Association Instagram originated in May 2016, on a sidewalk in Atlanta. As a research assistant for the OHA, I was interested in learning the mechanics of running an academic non-profit, and that included controlling various social media platforms. So I volunteered to start and run an Instagram. The first and most obvious step: finding a username. The first and most obvious username: oha. It, and many iterations of it, were unfortunately taken. I began searching different combinations, making a short list of what I considered the best, and a small group of us voted. ~ohassociation on Instagram was created, and our first photo was posted on June 15, 2016.

But then we needed more content, more followers. The build up to the 50th annual meeting coupled with my access to the archives kept the Instagram going, but it wasn’t until the meeting in October 2016 that I felt like the OHA Instagram took off. While working the front desk and checking people in for the meeting, I was using Instagram to publicize various parts of the meeting: that the front desk was the information hub, we had t-shirts for sale, free buttons, a sign-up for Saturday’s Dine Around, snapping a photo of our first member to buy one of the shirts, paper surveys in the Exhibit hall, a gorgeous view of dinner at the aquarium, on and on. And, best of all, one of my fellow RAs brilliantly created a few printouts to place around the area with all of the OHA’s social media handles and asking people to use #OHA2016. Suddenly our Instagram wasn’t just me posting photos from the archives. Members tagged us in photos and the annual meeting hashtag gained more and more uses. Instagram was really and truly fulfilling its purposes for the organization: engaging its members, presenting information as needed, and carving out another online space for OHA to have a visible presence.

June 15th marks the one year anniversary of the OHA Instagram’s creation, roughly eight months since the highs of the annual meeting, and it has grown beyond my expectations. Other organizations tag us in their photos. People still using the tote bags well after the meeting snapped photos of it. The OHA Spotlight Blogs, another project I currently head, formed another great way to showcase our members through our social media. Even better, there is still room to grow and improve, to engage more and in new ways. Thank you to everyone who follows us, likes our posts, regrams our posts, comments, or tags us in photos. And if you aren’t on Instagram yet, why not?!

You can reach Heather at hwelch5@student.gsu.edu or on Instagram at hwelch86.

 

If you are interested in writing a blog for the OHA, please email oha@gsu.edu for more details.

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