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Four Reasons Libraries Should be on Social Media

Many of the people I talk to are excited about social media, but not everyone. Sometimes it takes some convincing arguments to make people see the value in these social tools. So here are a few reasons why libraries should be taking advantage of these new technologies:

  • Communication – Social media is another way that you can get into contact with your patrons. Contacting younger people is becoming increasingly difficult since a growing number of them believe that email is dead. Instead they use instant messaging, Facebook, or SMS. It’s a change in our way of thinking since many of us still do business primarily through email, but it’s necessary to recognize this new trend.
  • Respond to Positive/Negative Feedback - People are talking about your library on the web and in different social media channels. They’re saying both good things and bad things. One of the most important tenets of customer service is to be responsive to your users’ concerns or praise. Recognize them and show that you’re interested in and care about their opinions. There’s no controlling what is said about your library anymore, but you can influence the message that comes across. The screenshot below illustrates an example where a library could reach out and assist a patron:

hatelibcomps

  • Marketing/Advertising – Your library likely already markets its services or events using traditional media: fliers, bookmarks, announcements in calendars of events, newspaper ads, press releases, etc. Social media is simply another form of media that you can use to get your message out there. Millions of people use social networks and likely a large percentage of the population you serve does too. You’re missing out on a lot of eyes if you eschew social media.
  • Understanding Users Better – Often people assume they know their user population. I know I do. But I’m also often very surprised at things I overhear or questions patrons ask. Social media allows conversations with your users, and these conversations often reveal important insights. Simply talking with people allows you to get to know them better, and more importantly, serve them better. Have conversations with patrons both in person and through social media. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Getting people on board with new technologies can often be difficult, but if you can make a reasonable well argued case for it you stand a much better chance. Please leave other reasons libraries should be on social media you think of in the comments. But now my question is: why shouldn’t libraries be on social media?

Andy Burkhardt

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