Increasing Your Impacts

It is not enough to sit back and wait for your site to generate impacts. There are a number of steps you can take to increase the likelihood of generating impacts.

These include some obvious steps such as making your site discoverable through search engine optimization (SEO) and sending out email announcements to relevant mailing lists. However, some resources are using methods that are less familiar to many in the humanities communty: using Twitter to announce new features or interesting content, blogging about your content, contributing citations and content to Wikipedia, and other strategies.


Success story: Bomb Sight and Twitter

A Jisc-funded project call Bomb Sight ( created an interactive map of the World War II bomb census of London. In the following two blog posts, the Bomb Sight team describe how Twitter helped their project go viral on the Internet, increasing from "40 visitors a day to 6 a second":

11 December 2012: On scaling from 40 visitors a day to 6 every second (

14 December 2012: Why Did Bomb Sight Go Viral? (

In these posts, the team descibe how a combination of a tweet from a widely followed Twitter account, news media interest, and a well-designed, engaging digital resource nearly brought the project to its knees until they were able to re-host their content with a cloud provider.


Success with Wikipedia

As projects have begun to realize that search results tend to include Wikipedia as one of the top search results, if not the top search result, it makes sense for historical collections to encourage the inclusion of their materials in Wikipedia, and where appropriate, to contribute to writing Wikipedia content.

It is important to note that you should be careful not to submit random content to Wikipedia just for the sake of increasing traffic to your site. However, many digital collections have rich material that would truly enhance Wikipedia entries, and including those materials, along with the citations that link them back to the source in your collection, is entirely appropriate.

One Jisc-funded project that has done this is Connected Histories (, which focuses on early modern and nineteenth century British materials from a variety of sources. The Connected Histories team identified articles on Wikipedia that related to well-known British people and events with related content in Connected Histories, and posted content and links. They learned a valuable lesson in the process: they had to be careful how they presented this information, as Wikipedia editors at first thought that Connected Histories was not a legitimate sources, and considered blacklisting them. Working with experience Wikipedia editors, however, Connected Histories was able to more clearly identify themselves as an educational resource funded by a major British funding body.

Several selected examples in Wikipedia of Connected Histories links:

History of newspapers and magazines:

English Poor Laws:

History of criminal justice:

Tyburn (village in Middlesex):

Paul Sandby (English map-maker and landscape painter):

Other articles on using Wikipedia to enhance a collection's impact:

Koh, A. (2013). How to Organize Your Own Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. ProfHacker, The Chronical of Higher Education 30 May. Available online:

Lally, A.M., Dunford, C.E. (2007). Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital Collections. D-Lib Magazine 13(5/6). Available online:

Pressley, L., McCallum, C.J. (2008). Putting the Library in Wikipedia. Online Sept-Oct: 39-42. Available online:


Success Story: Flickr Commons

The Flickr Commons was started in 2008 as a project by the US Library of Congress, in conjunction with Flickr, to post images from the Library's collection openly on the web. Visitors to the Commons would be able to see the images in the collection, but could also tag and annotate images with information and metadata based on their own knowledge.

The Commons has been wildly successful, expanding to over 66 participating institutions world-wide (as of mid-2013), and attracting millions of visitors.

The following article, written by representatives of several of the participating institutions, talks about how they have used a variety of metrics both to measure uses of the Commons, but also to enhance the impacts of their collections.

From the abstract: "Traditional metrics, including visit counts, tell only part of the story: much more nuanced information is often found in comments, notes, tags, and other information contributed by the user community. This paper will examine how several institutions on Flickr Commons - the Library of Congress, the Powerhouse Museum, the Smithsonian, New York Public Library, and Cornell University Library - are navigating the concept of evaluation in an emerging arena where compelling statistics are often qualitative, difficult to gather, and ever-changing."

Bray, P., Chan, S.., Dalton, J., Dietrich, D., Kapsalis, E., Springer, H., Zinkham, H. (2011). Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons. MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011 Conference Proceedings. Available online:

Several other articles also describe the Flickr Commons project and provide useful information for how the project achieved various impacts:

Kalfatovic, M.R., Kapsalis, E., Spiess, K.P., Van Camp, A., Edson, M. (2008). Smithsonian Team Flickr: a library, archives, and museums collaboration in web 2.0 space. Archival Science 8(4): 267-277. Available online:

Springer, M., Dulabahn, B., Michel, P., Natanson, B., Reser, D., Woodward, D., Zinkham, H. (2008). For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project. Library of Congress. Available online:

Vaughan, J. (2010). Insights Into the Commons on Flickr. portal: Libraries and the Academy 10(2): 185-214. Available online:


Innovative Statistics using Creative Commons Licences

In a blog post from 2012, the Jisc-funded TracOER project ( describes how their project needed to find a way to track resources that could be removed from the original server and re-hosted elsewhere. They describe how their solution was to use a creative commons licence badge that was embedded in the resource, but hosted by their own institution (thus enabling statistics to be gathered).

A short update on resource tracking:


If your project uses creative approaches such as these, let us know and we can include them in TIDSR to inspire others!