Here's why: Social media holds great value for libraries. Of course, not all of your patrons are on social media, but there are many who are. It gives us another way to reach our patrons - and importantly, to reach non-library users and hopefully attract new patrons. It gives us a way to share our message, promote our services, and spread the word about what the library offers. If we carve out a space in the online community, people are more likely to see our value in the offline community.
So, now that I've convinced you that your library needs to be paying attention to social media, where to begin? Managing social networks can be a lot of work and you likely already have enough on your plate. Here are some simple tips to starting out with social media and advice on making your social media activity more engaging.
- This may sound cliche, but social media really is about the conversation. Engage with your followers online as much as you can, even through like/favourite-ing posts.
- Use hashtags such as #library to engage in ongoing conversations.
- If people ask questions on social media, respond promptly.
2) Start small (but be consistent):
- You can start small with the number of posts, but you should try to post regularly. Avoid going full weeks without any posts on your social network. Start with 1-2 posts per network per day and go from there.
- Start with more popular networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, before branching out into others (such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram)
- Post strategically: the optimum times of day are noon and 8-10 p.m.; use scheduling features on Facebook and Twitter to schedule your posts for these times
3) More than marketing
- Social media isn't about promotion all the time - that will get old pretty quickly for your followers. Social media is about sharing valuable content
- Share more than you promote: aim for a ratio of 10:1 - for every one promotional post (about a program or service), aim for 10 "share" posts
- Sharing could include retweets, interesting news stories or blog posts you've found, or images you find online that speak to your followers (such as book or library memes) - they can be humorous or just interesting, but should be relevant to what you do as a library and relevant to your followers
4) Encourage participation
- Ask questions on social media or use "fill in the blank" to encourage followers to interact with your library
- Have contests (eg. "Caption this photo to be entered to win a basket of books!")
- Use photos and images - visual posts are proven to be more effective
- Make posts topical (post about National Library Month or the weather on a particular day)
- Follow other libraries and book-related individuals on Facebook and Twitter and pay attention to what they post for ideas
- Use Facebook and Twitter analytics to see which of your posts are most popular, and learn from your successes
Facebook and Twitter accounts to follow:
There are so many great accounts to follow online, including authors, publishers, libraries/librarians, and magazines/newspapers. Here are just a few:
Regional Library Systems in Alberta:
- Peace Library System (@PeaceLibrarySys)
- Yellowhead Regional Library (@yrlnow)
- Parkland Regional Library System (@PrlLibrary)
- Chinook Arch Regional Library System (@Chinooklibs)
- Shortgrass Library System (@ShortgrassNews)
- Marigold Library System (@MarigoldLibSys)
- Harper Collins Canada (@harpercollinsca)
- Random House Canada (@RandomHouseCA)
- Penguin Canada (@PenguinCanada)
- CBC Books (@cbcbooks)
- 49th Shelf (@49thshelf)
- Reading Rainbow (@readingrainbow)
- Book Riot (@BookRiot)
- Edmonton Public Library (@EPLdotCA)
- New York Public Library (@nypl)
- Grande Prairie Public Library (@GPPublicLibrary)