Social media can be a free and simple way to share your thoughts or update your friends and colleagues about your current activities. Social media has a place for professional use as well. Libraries use social media to market their services, highlight collections, and publicize events. Likewise, our vendors use social media to engage with customers. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow you to get your message across to the public at no cost.
For those who want to share with friends, family, and colleagues everything from pictures of pets, travel destinations, or reviews about a just-read book, regular posting may not be of interest. But, for staff who are interested in getting their library’s message across to a bigger audience and are looking to develop a large number of followers for their library accounts, current wisdom is that the social media account user should post regularly. This keeps people interested and draws more followers.
But regular posting doesn’t mean that you need to adjust your work routine so that every day at 10 a.m., every Thursday, or every other Tuesday, you sit down at your computer or pull out your mobile device and try to think up a good social media post. Scheduling your posts is the smarter way to create a strong presence on social media, one that will establish the value of your library and enhance your own branding as a savvy information professional. But there is a learning curve.
When I started out using social media tools, I first created a few accounts and made a few posts and updates. This gave me the experience I needed to connect with others about topics of inter est to me. Social media seemed easy enough to understand and use from the get-go, and I was happy just to have an account on major social media sites. But then along came a 2011 social media contest hosted by Water.org. called the Twakeover, Through Twakeover. Mike McCamon, Water.org’s chief community officer, was interested in having people use their social media ac counts to spread the word about the organization. In an article on Mashable, McCamon shared that the winner of the contest would have tweets posted on Water.org’s sizeable Twitter account for a week, and that protective measures were in place to ensure the appropriateness of the tweets that would be shared (mashable.com/2011/08/04/water-twitter-contest/#TBubAeiURkq0).
While I did not place first in the contest, I was among the top 10 contestants and was surprised by an email from McCamon letting me know that as one of the 10, I would be given a day in September to develop three tweets that would be sent out via the Water.org’s Twitter account. I was delighted to develop tweets that highlighted both the value of information professionals and the goals of Water.org. These are the three tweets I composed:
#librarians tweet back water facts, sites and resources to @Water to educate their followers about water issues. http://water.org/
Librarians help you navigate the flood of information better than any search engine. Visit one today to learn more about water issues.
Grantmakers: Educate yourself about water issues. Talk to your foundation librarian to learn more: http://foundationlibraries.blogspot.com/
What did that contest teach me? I really hadn’t taken a serious interest in social media before I entered it. I was initially more interested in dipping my toe in the social media pool than diving into the deep end. But the Twakeover contest required me to take my social media use and expertise to the next level in order to be a serious contender in the contest. My research into what social media experts considered the critical elements of getting people interested in your postings revealed that regular posting is essential.