What can information professionals do with social publishing tools other than marketing?

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Of course a lot of what businesses–libraries included–are going to do on social media is marketing. Letting patrons know about services you offer, physical and digital materials you have available, and programs that are coming up is a big part of what we do on social media, but wait–there’s more!

A big part of social media for everyone–individuals and businesses alike–is making connections. Libraries, just like everyone else using social media tools, should be liking (or the equivalent, depending on what platform you’re on) other people’s and groups’ posts, responding to and making comments, and building a sense of community among its followers and in its…well, community. I always try to respond as soon as I can to all of the comments that are made on our library’s Facebook page, whether or not what is posted is actually a question or just a simple comment. It’s both good business practice and common courtesy, both of which are important for libraries in connecting with their patrons and communities.

During one of the discussions we had in class a few weeks back, several of the students recommended having your library social media accounts follow/friend/like local business, government, and community accounts. Share their posts, and in so doing help your patrons to make larger connections to their community as well–it’s a virtual equivalent of the community bulletin boards we have out in our physical lobby.

Libraries can also use social media to connect with other libraries and other library professionals, both for the purpose of communication and sharing ideas. I love seeing what other libraries are doing, and using their ideas to spark my own (in case you missed it, last week’s post had some librarians’ and libraries’ blogs to follow that can get you started). Following information organization organizations and groups on social media can be another way the libraries and librarians can keep up to date with the latest topics and information related to their profession.

Content–giving followers something useful that has some value–is of course the number one rule. Beyond that, though, libraries should also post fun and entertaining posts as well. One of the early Facebook posts that received the most likes and comments on our library’s page was posted on one of the first snowy days of the season:

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Technically that post would probably be considered “marketing”, since I wrote “Sound advice! We’re open until 8 PM :)” with it, but really, I just wanted to make people smile when I posted that picture. If they also came in and checked out some materials as well, that would just be a nice bonus. And no, it’s not my sign–I found it through a Google image search with the “labeled for reuse” filter applied. I’d seen a similar image elsewhere a year or so before and thought it would be the perfect image to post since our first major snowstorm was supposedly on its way. Someday, though, I’ll probably put our own sign out there with a similar sentiment…it just didn’t feel like this year was snowy enough.

Yet. Because now this is on its way:

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So, maybe in a day or two? At least we’re not in any of the pink areas…

 

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