What was Hot in 2014 According to EngagingPlaces.net

As the Engaging Places blog enters its fourth year, it’s a chance to take a look back to see what’s attracted and intrigued our readers.  It’s now grown to about 350 posts and is viewed about 3,000 times each month.  This year, the most popular posts were (starting with the highest):

  1. HBR: The Truth About the Customer Experience (a discussion about “customer journey mapping” that was cross-posted on the AASLH blog)
  2. HBO CEO named Mt. Vernon CEO; A Step Backwards IMHO (still popular even though it was posted in 2012)
  3. Let’s Give SWOT a REST (and another popular post from 2012)
  4. IMLS’ Count of Museums in the US May Be Exaggerated (and prompted lots of comments, particularly about the data sources and methodology)
  5. Are Historic House Museums Adapting for the Future? (an announcement about the March 2014 Historic House Museum Symposium at Gunston Hall; btw, others are planned for New Hampshire and Georgia in 2015)
  6. Pushing the Period Room Beyond the Period at Hunter House (they look like period rooms, but they aren’t)
  7. Is Historic Preservation Ready to Preserve Culture as well as Architecture? (this post received a huge bump on December 3 thanks to Facebook)

Most readers came from the United States, although Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia were close behind.  It seems that readers are most interested in

the future direction of the field and their own institutions by following what’s happening at a national level as well as with traditional planning elements (such SWOT) to help navigate the future and make a greater impact.  Indeed, this is suggested by the most common search terms that lead readers to the blog:  community engagement best practices, relevance of history, and million dollar salaries at America’s largest museums (much more history related than in previous years).   Also commonly searched were personal names and other than my own (I’m amazed how many people spelled my name correctly–wow!), the most popular ones were Laurie Ossman (at the Preservation Society of Newport County), Curtis Viebranz (at Mount Vernon), Scott Guerin (could be searching for the exhibit designer or the Yale neuroscientist), and Elizabeth Milnarik (preservation architect and architectural historian).  Not sure what this means, but it would be an interesting group to invite to dinner or a poker game.

By far, most readers come to the Engaging Places blog via a search engine, such as Google.  Next are the social media giants of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, no doubt a result of the automatic posts generated by my blogging software.  They’re followed by individuals and organizations that linked, retweeted, or mentioned my blog, so I especially want to mention those that generated significant referrals:  IntentionalMuseum, Robert Connolly and Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach, AASLH, MuseumCommons.orgPublicHistoryCommons.org, Historians.org, Center for the Future of Museums, and the Alaska State Museum Bulletin. What a diverse group!

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on the Engaging Places blog this past year (especially top commenters Lee Wright, Carter Lively, Robert Connolly, Monta Lee Dakin, and Sandra Smith).  I plan to keep sharing news, ideas, and opinions for connecting people to historic places, especially on the ways that historic sites and house museums are making an impact on their visitors and community as part of my work on the History Relevance Campaign.  Expect some surprises, too!