For the last six weeks, our library has been hosting a very sweet woman from the University of Pretoria as part of the Carnegie Library Leadership Academy for South African librarians. We were interested to learn from her that social media is just starting to gain widespread traction in that part of the world. And while, they have established a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, they’re still trying to figure out how it fits into the bigger picture.
We’ve already outlined why we do what we do, but we know from personal experience that the hardest part is always getting started. Even for those who have taken the plunge and set up pages, it can still feel like you’re floundering. For this very reason, we devised a roadmap to success, no matter what stage your organization is at. But for this post, let’s start at the very beginning.
- Start small. It’s tempting to want to take on every social media outlet, but don’t be an Atlas, stuck with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Focus on doing one thing, and do it really well. We started with our library blog in 2007, and that was our only outreach method for a full year. It wasn’t until after we had got our bearings and found our voice, we folded in Twitter and Facebook. I’ll admit we flew under the radar with those for a solid year as well before beginning to advertise our presence.
- Recruit help. Very few libraries are lucky enough to have a dedicated marketing or outreach person, so librarians must often fill that role. While many hands make light the load, we also just like having the opportunity to show off the personalities and expertise of a wide range of library staff. Having a dozen contributors is one of our greatest strengths!
- Read up. Social media sites are changing all the time, and often the platforms are the last ones to notify you (Goodbye CoTweet, hello Timeline!). We regularly read tech blog Mashable to keep apprised of any developments and gain insight on how other organizations are using social media. For Facebook specific changes, we also pop in on AllFacebook from time to time. Of course, our rad fellow librarian bloggers have some of the best ideas. But no surprises there!
Seasoned social media’ers—am I missing any biggies? What advice would you give to a library new to the scene?