Social media can be broken down into three categories: collaborative projects such as blogs, content communities (e.g., You Tube), and social networking sites. For libraries, engaging in social media allows them to reach a broader audience, including people who may not otherwise utilize the libraries resources.
WHY USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are free to use and part of many people’s daily lives. For the younger generation, social media is the preferred way to communicate over more traditional methods, such as email blasts.
Social networking sites allow libraries to engage with patrons in new ways. Whether it’s a response to a question posted on Facebook, the sharing of a photo on Instagram, or the re-tweeting of a story on Twitter, social media opens the door for conversation.
MAKING SOCIAL MEDIA WORK FOR LIBRARIES
There are countless social media sites available on the Internet and new ones are constantly being created, so it’s impossible for libraries to be involved in all of them. Some of the most popular types of social media for libraries include YouTube, blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The benefit of using multiple types of social media is that each site offers something unique and appeals to a different group of people.
To be successful on social media, libraries should create a goal for what they hope to achieve and use that goal to help determine which sites would best suit their needs. A library looking to increase their marketing for author talks, for example, would be far more successful on Facebook, which allows for easy sharing of events, than Pinterest, which is more geared toward visual content, like book covers and display ideas.
It is also crucial that libraries are prepared to invest staff time in maintaining a social media presence. When properly utilized and maintained, social media can lead to increased promotion and marketing, new patrons, improved collection development, and community engagement that spans across many ages, races, and backgrounds.
For libraries to remain relevant, especially to the younger generation, it’s essential for them to stay on top of growing social media trends. Social media is not “one size fits all”, which is why the abundance of social media platforms available makes it easy for libraries to pick and choose the ones that suit their needs best. Ultimately, social media helps libraries not only promote themselves, but also engage with people beyond face-to-face interactions and encourage conversation with users who might not otherwise have a relationship with the library.
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Kho, N. D. (2011). Social media in libraries: Keys to deeper engagement. Information Today, 28(6), 1, 31-32. Retrieved February 7, 2017, from Gale database.
King, D.L. (2015). Landscape of social media for libraries. Library Technology Reports, 51(1), 10-15. Retrieved February 7, 2017, from ProQuest Central database.