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A Social Media Tool for Busy Librarians [VIDEO]

A valid concern that I’ve heard about using social media in libraries is “how do I find the time time to maintain a social media presence?” Librarians can be stretched pretty thin with their workload, or sometimes there are only one or two people running a library. Maintaining a social media presence takes time and commitment. It can be very difficult to regularly post Facebook page updates, fresh tweets, and new blog posts. This is where work flow comes in. There are technologies available to help even the busiest librarians post regularly to their social media accounts with ease.

One simple way to save time and make sure that you post regularly is to schedule tweets and posts. The best tool I have found to do that is HootSuite. HootSuite allows you to connect to both your library Twitter account and Facebook page and easily update them both from one web-based application. In addition HootSuite gives you the option to schedule your posts for sometime in the future.

Scheduling posts makes it easier to post regularly without the hassle of doing it every day. A librarian can take a half an hour once a week to write a research tip of the day and posts about multiple upcoming events, schedule them, and have posts coming out every day that week. This even makes it possible to post on weekends when you’re not actually around.

This is a very useful tool for already overtaxed librarians, yet it shouldn’t be the only thing you use. You also have to answer your patrons when they post on your wall or @mention you. And don’t let scheduled posts kill spontaneity either. Spontaneous posts are the often some of the best and most authentic. It’s necessary to find a good balance, but scheduling posts can be a very helpful practice in dealing with social media work flow.

Here’s a very brief video showing how to use HootSuite to schedule your posts.

hootsuite

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Library Social Media Posts That Get Responses

image from mars_discovery_district on Flickr

image from mars_discovery_district on Flickr

Looking back on your social media use of your library or organization is important. Whether your blogging or using tools like Facebook and Twitter we need to be scientists. We need to conduct experiments. Social media is great for this because you get rapid, measurable feedback. You can see what sorts of posts get shared, liked, retweeted, or commented on. Once you understand what people are responding to you can then try to replicate it, thus improving your posts. Below are three types of posts that get responses from our library’s social media following:

  • Questions – Want a response? Ask a question. It’s one of the most natural exchanges in conversation. People are much more willing to reply to a question than to a statement. If you can phrase your informational post as a question or add a question to it you have a better chance of a response. Example: “Who loves chili? Chili cookoff today at 2:00pm in the library.”
  • Fun – Posts that are lighthearted and fun often get responses, at least from our students. You don’t have to only post about library news or events and not everything has to be informational. Social media is about being social so you need a balance of business and pleasure. Here’s an example of having fun with the Kanye meme that swept the web.
  • Talking about others – Only talking about yourself is boring in real life. The same is true in the virtual world. Blogger Chris Brogan is an evangelist for talking about others and I find that he’s right. When I retweet people’s content from our library account it gets shared again. When I post on the library Facebook about a student group organizing a Quidditch team the organizers appreciate it. Talk about others and you’ll be rewarded.

These types of posts got the most responses at our library. It may not be exactly the same for yours. Remember to experiment. Try some unorthodox posts sometimes. Try different posts and see what works and what doesn’t, but make sure you learn from your mistakes.

What sorts of social media posts have been working for your library?

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Six Things Libraries Should Tweet

This is a post in response to David Lee King’s post on How Not to Tweet. He correctly pointed out some things you shouldn’t do. He also said you should think about the big picture like “What do you want to get out of it?” But people often wonder, what sort of things should our library tweet about? Here’s a list:

  • Library events – Let people know what’s going on. Having a movie night in the library? Let people know. Having a chili cookoff? Get the word out!
  • Links to articles, videos, etc. – If you come across web content that would be relevant or helpful to your patrons, tweet it. You can even tweet things marginally related if you think your patrons would respond favorably. Twitter is great for sending links. And don’t forget to use a link shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.
  • Solicit feedback – Twitter is made for conversations, so feel free to ask questions of your followers. Ask things that you actually want to know about and that you are prepared to act upon though. Don’t ask, “should the library stay open until midnight?” unless you’re prepared to do something with their responses.
  • New additions to your collection - Got some new books? Added a database recently? Tweet it up! People might not know about your additions unless you tell them. Twitter can be helpful for informing patrons about new resources.
  • Marketing - get the word out about how great your library is! Libraries and librarians do some pretty awesome stuff, but people don’t always see it. Let people know you just created a new tutorial or that you had over 150,000 visits last year. Don’t worry about tooting your own horn a little bit, just not all the time.
  • Answer questions - in the example below I noticed someone was working on a paper and simply sent them a link, you’d be surprised how powerful that can be.

tweet

Don’t forget to be human and be social. Being human means not only sending out the same links to events or new books over and over, but sending out fun things like librarians dancing to Thriller. Don’t be an automaton. And being social means having conversations with patrons. Answer @replies, ask questions, socialize. Don’t simply broadcast like you have a megaphone. It is social networking after all.

This list is by no means comprehensive, just some ideas to get people thinking. Please leave any other ideas you have in the comments.