I occasionally get emails from people who have seen my more popular posts about library social media including: Four Reasons Libraries Should be on Social Media, How Libraries Can Leverage Twitter, and Six Things Libraries Should Tweet. People who write often want to know how to get started using social media from a library account. I wanted to collect some of the advice that I’ve shared with them into a post for others who may have similar questions.
Whether you’re starting out or just looking to refresh your library social media presence, one of the best resources I’ve found is the Social Media Examiner’s Resource Guide. It gives you a social media marketing industry guide and tons of practical articles on topics like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and blogging. In addition, the popular tech/social media blog Mashable has some solid guides on topics like Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve also found that there are a few important things to remember to make your social media presence effective and fresh without burning yourself out in the process.
Influence and Engagement not Numbers
The two most important questions to ask when starting out (and regularly after that) are “what are my goals for having a social media presence,” and “what am I trying to accomplish?” People often think that having a lot of fans or followers is really important in having a social media presence. This is misguided. What matters in social media is not the quantity of followers, but the quality of the conversations. There are plenty of reasons to be on social media and number of fans/followers can be a helpful metric, but your focus should on user engagement and influence as opposed to becoming popular.
Use a dashboard
Using a social media management dashboard is the best way to stay abreast of conversations and keep your content fresh. You can use free tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite to manage both Facebook and Twitter and schedule posts. Doing this in a single block can save you time and ensure that you regularly have fresh content being posted. Dashboards also help you to see things like mentions, posts, replies, and saved searches all in one place. These one stop shops will help you you see what people are saying about your library and be a part of that conversation.
Include your users
Talking only about yourself is a quick path to losing the attention of your audience. One of the best ways to get engagement on social media is to make your users a part of the conversation. Our library Twitter account regularly retweets posts from students and other groups on campus. On Facebook we post things like student artwork, and on Twitter we often retweet photos from the library’s third floor.
— Champlain Library (@champlib) January 18, 2013
Use the richness of the medium
When using social media tools it’s important to leverage them to their full potential. A text only post is going to get a lot less engagement than one that is rich either visually or contextually. In Facebook include images in every post. Period. It’s been shown to increase engagement by 120%. On Twitter include links, hashtags, and @mentions. There is a lot you can say in only 140 characters. And depending on your audience there may be other social networks you may want to experiment with such as Pinterest or Tumblr.
“Connections create value” and there is “power in community.” These are rules of the social era that libraries have known for long time. There are now ever increasing ways to create these connections and build community. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a social media presence for their library?