KEEPING CONNECTED – HOW LIBRARIES USE SOCIAL MEDIA – November 2015

In November last year I was asked to attend this event at the Institut Francais and at the time I had recently been given control of the Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Law Library. I will happily admit that I am not a prolific user of social media: I don’t have a Twitter account and barely use Facebook. I attended this with my eyes and ears wide open and saw this conference as a way to help me better understand the vast social media landscape.

Phil Bradley “Social Media and libraries – a perfect fit”

The first talk was delivered by former CILIP President Phil Bradley. Phil explored the scope and breadth of social media and internet usage in general and really impressed upon us just how much information is being created by these platforms. It made me realise that it is our job as librarians to harness this plethora of information in order to better help our students and develop the library service.

The talk introduced to me several social media application I was unaware of (Google Hangouts, Periscope , and Paper.li,. to name a few), as well as an important tenant of social media: it is not the specific social media tools that matter, but the way they are used to effectively communicate a message.

Rui ZinkFeed me, Feed me”

Rui was the only speaker who didn’t work in a library, and as a result his talk felt like a philosophical musing on social media. The most thought provoking idea of his talk was the fact that social media is free. This is, of course, obvious, but when you consider the potential target audience of a platform such as Facebook or Twitter it is astounding that you can reach so many people free of charge.

Some instructive advice was also given. It was suggested that humour could be a good way to reach people (citing Orkney Library & Archive Facebook page as an example), and libraries should not strive for likes, retweets, ect as they are not celebrities. Instead, it is important to set out what our aims are and how to achieve them.

Romain Gaillard “Building team culture and strategy in social media activities based on inbound marketing”

The talk given by Romain was the highlight for me, from a personal and professional viewpoint.  Romain explained that he was going to be the manager for the new library in ”the Canopy”, a large redevelopment project in the Les Halles region of Paris.  Romain told us the Library will have 37,500 documents, and be equipped with 3D printers, a vinyl cutter and also offer programming classes.

Romain gave some practical advice of how often to post: once a day for Facebook, five or six for Twitter, fortnightly for YouTube, and as and when for Instagram. When I attended this course I had not long taken over the Law Library social media accounts, so I found it really useful to have a basic guide of how regularly to post.

Nieves González Fernández-Villavicencio “What, how and why of social media in Spanish libraries”

The talk given by Nieves focused on how to measure the success of social media. This talk introduced me to many analytical tools I was not aware of, such as Klout, Peer index and Social mention. Nieves also expanded upon what Rui had mentioned earlier about not focusing too much on how many likes you receive.

The term vanity metrics was used to describe the way success is measured by the number of likes and followers you have, whereas actionable metrics are more concerned with how the engagements are being made e.g. of the material that does get posted, is there a pattern to what receives the most interest, or if a user directly contacts your social media account, what sort of questions are they asking.

Christina Bambini & Tatiana Wakefield “Changing needs, changing roles: social media, libraries and communities in a hightech age”

This talk looked at what social media means for libraries in the modern era. Interestingly, the authors drew comparisons between social media and traditional libraries by describing them as spaces for everyone. The ‘space’ on social media should be used to build an interaction between staff and students, and organisations should be using social media to reflect their personalities. Like the previous speaker, Christina and Tatiana thought that likes and followers were not necessarily the best ways to assess success, but instead organisations should be focusing on the quality of the interaction between user and staff.

Sina Schröder “It’s not about PR – it’s about customer care: the Bücherhallen Hamburg in the social web”

The talk delivered by Sina shared similarities with the talk given by Romain by focusing on how libraries can utilise social media. It was suggested that social media has three main streams of outreach: 1. Information, 2. Entertainment, and 3. Service. Colleagues at the library don’t have a set of guidelines, they simply suggest ideas that they think may be interesting. This was encouraging for me as I don’t feel that there is a formula for social media success, as given that most of these platforms are in their infancy there is still a lot of learning to be done.

Conclusion

Overall, I felt that this course was really useful. It gave me some food for thought on what social media should be doing and the way this should be judged, as well as providing practical advice of how often to post and what sort of material to put up.

Conor Jackson

Information Assistant  – Law

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