A modern library without a social media presence is like a phone that only makes phone calls: it belongs in a different century. Most librarians are aware of this fact and embrace it, yet many libraries are having trouble capitalizing on what social media has to offer. Here’s a list of five mistakes we see too many libraries making, and some easy steps to move in the right direction.
1. Not Having Clear Social Media Goals – Social Media for Social Media’s sake is a waste of your already limited time and resources. Is your goal to increase users, promote events or resources, increase engagement with existing users, reference help, or something else entirely? We spoke to one distance librarian who was trying to create the kind of physical space her students lacked. Knowing a concrete goal will help you determine which platform(s) to use and what kinds of things to post about.
2. Not having a “Follow” button on your library website – Check your website to make sure links exists for whichever platforms you use, and delete links to old or neglected sites. If you aren’t using that 4Square account, you probably don’t need to link to it. Here is where you can get the embed codes you need to add Follow Buttons for Twitter, and Facebook.
3. Broadcasting Without Engaging – One of the problems with some of the 3rd party social media management tools that exist today (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc) is that by allowing you to schedule content in advance, it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting it and forgetting it. These tools are great for making sure you’re able to regularly post meaningful content, but they’re only half the equation. In the same way nobody likes people who only talk “at” them, social media that doesn’t respond to comments or like other people’s posts seems equally inept.
4. Not Searching Your Own Name on Twitter – Not just your handle, but your name, plus whatever nicknames your users might have for you. This is a big one for academic libraries who, for example, might have students live-tweeting their Finals Week library experience. In this Libraries Thriving webinar, Communications and Outreach Librarian Katy Kelly (U of Dayton) discusses helping students who vent on Twitter about not being able to find something and then are pleasantly surprised when a librarian promptly points them in the right direction. Watch the whole webinar or go to the 34:00 mark to see Katy’s method for tracking mentions.
5. Lacking Practical Content – Funny memes, programming and links to news stories about interesting topics make for good content, but they shouldn’t be your only content. Remembering to post things like hours changes, e-resource tips, outages (and back-onages), etc. will ensure people think to check in with your account often.
Original Image: Librarian accessing PDQ, Bill Branson (Photographer), June 1987, Reuse Restrictions: None – This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and/or author listed above.