How libraries can harness the power of social media

  By LMC   - Tuesday 02 January 2018

For organisations in both the private and public sector, the role of social media has changed considerably over the past few years. But are libraries making the most of social media to reach out to customers, colleagues and partners? What are the opportunities and pitfalls for library professionals setting out on their social media journey? We spoke to some top tweeters about why they think it’s important for libraries to be active on social media, and their tips for social media success.

Engaging the community

Lancashire County Council Libraries were early advocates of social media in the library world, having launched their Twitter account in 2009. Since then, their follower base has grown steadily.

“Twitter is really useful for us,” explains Carolyn Waite, Information Development Manager. “We use it in a whole range of ways to share information about local events, jobs and businesses, to generate interest in campaigns and to retweet council information.”

Managing a Twitter account can be time consuming, and it works best if one or two members of staff take responsibility for an authority’s social media as part of their roles, explains Carolyn. “Our staff write tweets and submit them to us so that we can add photos and plan when to post them. For the Lancashire Book of the Year Awards, we gave our reading team some training in Twitter and access to hashtags so that they could live-tweet from the event. This generated excitement in the event and really brought it to life.”

Five steps to social media success

  1. Plan a social media strategy: If you’re going to be social, be social all the time. Too many people start Twitter and fade out. Make it part of our routine, your marketing plan, your thinking.
  2. Create a social media personality: Orkney Libraries have a popular following due to their informal chattiness. Decide what image you want to portray and develop it.
  3. Make sure you’ve got a good camera: There is nothing worse than out-of-focus, blurry photos. There are so many good- quality posts out there, the bad ones stand out.
  4. Get the support of your senior leadership team: Gather evidence of effective social media and engage with senior leaders. If your service is behind what you are doing, it will make your social media journey easier.
  5. Don’t measure success by numbers of followers: It’s better to have 100 followers who are engaging than 10,000 who are not.