How To Grow Your Library’s Social Media Presence

Social Media Marketing

So you’ve already figured out good things to post to your social media of choice and you have great content up there. Now where is everybody? A friend asked me a couple weeks ago “How do you market your web presence? Basically – how do you gain fans and followers?” I’ve been thinking about that a lot myself lately, so I figured I would share the strategies that I came up with.

  • Link everywhere you can -  Have a link to your social media pages on your library homepage. If you’re on multiple social networks mention one on the other. Put links to them in your email signature. Links are good. Use them generously.
  • Print advertising – Post fliers around your library, community or school, especially next to computers (see above picture). You could even take out an ad in your local or school newspaper. There’s still a place for print.
  • Instruction sessions – When you’re in the classroom feel free to mention your social media presence to students. Let them know that you’re trying to make it as easy as possible to connect with the library. They just might appreciate it.
  • Talk to people – Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, so mention it to friends, people at the reference desk, and people in your community. If you tell two friends, and they tell two friends…
  • Build a contingent of friends – There are probably people already in your community who you are friends with on a social network. On Facebook you can “suggest a page to friends.” Ask people who are your friends to follow/fan the library. They want to help you out because they’re your friend, and they’re getting interesting content and conversation as a bonus.
  • Follow and be followed in return - This one is simply the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Find people in your community and start following them. Chances are, most of them will follow you back. I like this one a lot because the goal of social media is not simply to gain followers (that’s the goal of cults). Social media is about sharing, learning, conversations and giving.
  • Web Ads – I haven’t tried this one yet, but I hear that targeted ads on Facebook are pretty inexpensive and can be effective. Stanford library has utilized ads in the past and they may be the most popular college library Facebook page out there.
  • Give it time – Set small goals for yourself and meet them. Then set larger goals. This post is called “Grow Your Library’s Social Media Presence” not “Explode Your Library’s Social Media Presence.” That’s what it takes. It’s like a garden that needs nurturing. Give every user interaction proper attention. Eventually with care and diligence you’ll have a blossoming and fruitful social media presence.

Has anyone been trying other ways of promoting their social networks? Any great successes in getting the word out? I’d really love to hear about them.


Two Keys to Social Media Success


There is no “right” way to do social media. But there are some best practices and etiquette that has developed around these tools. There are a couple  things to keep in mind when using social media professionally for your business, organization, or library.

Social, Not Broadcast

First off, this is social media that your using, not traditional broadcast media. This isn’t radio or TV. The rules are different.

I see some businesses or libraries trying to utilize social media, but often they are running plays out of the old playbook. They act like they have a megaphone and are simply yelling things AT people. In social media you don’t want to be talking AT people, you want to be talking WITH people.

Don’t simply post the same things over and over. Respond to people. Have conversations with users. If you’re using social media and not listening and talking WITH your users, you’re doing it wrong.

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

photo by heyjohngreen on flickr

photo by heyjohngreen on flickr

Just like the once popular hair style “the mullet” you want to keep your tone business in the front, party in the back.

What I mean by that is when using social media you should try to strike a balance between professionalism and fun. You’re trying to promote your library or organization, but don’t get caught up completely in that. Having fun will help in that goal. Libraries are fun places to be. Let that show through.

A lot of social media is about having fun. Feel free to post links to things that might not necessarily be related only to your library. Or make humorous videos. Collingswood Library in New Jersey did a good job with this recently.

There’s no perfect way to use social media but there’s a distinct spirit behind it. If you’re posting in that spirit you can’t go too far wrong.


Librarians are Social Media Butterflies

Tweetup at ACRL 2009 by srharris on Flickr

Tweetup at ACRL 2009 by srharris on Flickr

In my last post I talked about how libraries can be using Twitter to connect with their users. But Twitter also allows librarians and library enthusiasts to connect with each other. I’ve been seeing a lot of great Twitter conversations going on between people in the library community. These are a few:

  • #followalibrarian – I love this hash tag. It’s like #followfriday but for librarians. On Friday’s you simply tweet recommendations of librarians on Twitter and tag it with #followalibrarian. I’ve connected with a lot of cool librarians by searching for this tag.
  • #librarydayinthelife – The Library Day in the Life Project was the brainchild of Bobbi Newman. She created it to promote awareness of “the joys and challenges of working in a library.” People blog or tweet about what a typical day is like for them where they work.
  • Sharing Articles and News – I find that Twitter is often doing a better job than my RSS reader at getting me good articles related to libraries and social media. Good content on Twitter seems to bubble up to the top through people retweeting and discussing articles. I also find new and different stuff instead of getting updates from the same blogs over and over. It’s a way to broaden the scope of your reading.
  • Tweetups – Twitter isn’t just online, people meet up in person. I went a tweetup at ACRL in March that was a lot of fun. I’ve been to a couple locally in the Burlington community. And I just saw a Massachusetts tweetup get planned via Twitter. Social media is great, but meeting in real life can’t be beat.
  • Causes – Twitter is being used very well by librarians to promote library related causes. A recent one that come to mind is the movement to get a library themed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. Another is the Save Ohio Libraries movement that is spreading the word about the massive library budget cuts going on in Ohio.
  • Conferences – Twitter is great for connecting with other librarians at conferences.You’ve likely heard the old adage that the most helpful part of conferences are the impromptu chats in the hall between sessions. Twitter’s the virtual version of that. It adds a whole other dimension to conferences and makes them a richer experience. I followed the recent Handheld Librarian online conference hashtag (which was even a trending topic) and got some great info. It’s great to be able to learn about what’s going on at a conference even if you can’t make it.

I’m really loving this community of librarians on Twitter and feel much more connected to librarians from New England to New Zealand. Are there other ways you’re using Twitter to connect with your colleagues?