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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Prater

Social Media for Your Library

The Social Media Guide for Libraries: Things You Need to Know Before Getting Started


Social media has been an every growing part of people's lives. It is an inevitable part of all businesses across every sector - whether you're a multi-national corporation, a small business selling goods, or a library promoting specific events, materials, or collections.


According to statistics on Forbes, 43% of consumers are using social media to discover new brands, so why not use it in the library to share information and create immediate interactions with library users. Libraries services can use social media platforms to post insights into specific materials and collections, to educate as well as promote what is available.


Creates an effective platform for people to access & share information with others.


When I was searching for content about libraries on social media platforms, it was very hard to find. Every time I opened an app for any of the platforms, I was TYPICALLY met with minimal or outdated content. But Why?


According to Angela Hursh, Super Library Marketing, the odds are never in our favor, thanks to algorithms and it's a daily battle that libraries should prepare to face. Because even though social media is free and seemingly easy, it's also not free and easy.


"It's incredibly, insanely difficult to figure out what works on social media when the rules are constantly changing. If you don't have time or the staff to keep up, it can be exhausting and demoralizing." (Hursh, 2021)


Some Quick Guidelines




 

Facebook

Despite the growth in the overall number of Facebook users, teens have been losing interest in Facebook for years. The average demographic group of Facebook users is between the ages of 25 and 35 years. And Facebook’s smallest audience – teens! Following those statistics, we will need to rethink the way the library uses Facebook for promotion.


On my initial search, I typed "libraries" and then tried "school libraries". Neither of these options yielded a ton of results. "Libraries" pulled up mostly groups and organizations that you had to join and are geared towards members looking for a common place to collaborate. "School Libraries" resulted in mostly in elementary or public libraries with a few high school libraries sprinkled into the mix. For the most part, all school libraries were sharing reading initiatives, book festivals, community & announcements, and school clubs. There was very minimal engagement with these posts, which makes sense for this platforms if it is typically used by an older demographic.


There are a couple of ways to "hack" the system though.

  1. Ask your library staff, faculty members, or parents to share posts from your library page. Facebooks algorithm gives more weight to posts that are shared by real people.

  2. Share to your stories. If you posts to Instagram stories, choose to share it to your facebook story. Since they aren't a part of your news feed, the same rules don't apply.

Twitter

I've had a Twitter account for years now, but I've never understood the fanfare. I follow a few "major players", but I mostly use it to keep track of district or school related information. So, I decided to do a little research to see who, why, and how people are using twitter.


The largest demographic group of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29 (37%) and 25% of users are between 30 and 49 years old. That means, like Facebook, the messaging should be directed towards the parents of our students. Twitter employs a limits messages to 280 characters or less. This promotes the focused and clever use of language, which makes tweets easy to scan, but challenging to write. And since teenagers are gravitating towards video-centric social media apps, we might be better served by a different option.


Two of the EdTech leaders that we researched haven't posted on this format since 2021. Kathy Schrock, Gwyneth Jones (The Daring Librarian), and Jim Lerman are frequently active, but none of them have a lot of post engagement or retweets. Kathy had an interesting post earlier this month with an appeal to educators to share how they're using TikTok, but it only received a few retweets and no one has commented.


This post by Gwyneth Jones didn't get any traction, but boy does it speak to my heart. It's reason behind the why, as educators and teacher librarians, we do what we do. If nothing else, Gwyneth is an excellent source for current information and motivation.


According to Social Shepard, most Twitter users aren't super active when it comes to actually sharing content. That means people are simply consuming information and the majority of users are retweeting content.

Since Twitter falls behind platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest and currently ranks 15th in the social media world; Librarians may find their time is better served on a different platform.


Instagram

Instagram can be a great platform for promoting books for your readers. It has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and according to it has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and according to Rival IQ, brands have a 13.5x higher median engagement rate on Instagram than on Facebook, and 27x higher than on Twitter. Plus, the platform is shifting its focus to video. This change allows librarians/educators a friendly platform to use that competes with content from TikTok and YouTube.


According to Super Library Marketing, there are some really interesting statistics that make this platform a good fit for your library program.

  • The average user spends 30 minutes a day on the platform.

  • 50 percent of people visit a website after seeing a product or service on Instagram.

This is relevant to libraries because our collection, services, and events are our products and services. By finding fun and unique ways to build video content that engages our user, we can direct them to our library websites and catalogs. You can also remind them of other resources you have on your website as well as paid services or events that are offered in your area or by your local library.


Creating content for my new Instagram Book Page was so much fun. And of course, I learned a lot by making mistakes. Theres lots of content out there to follow from other libraries who are using it in unique ways. Plus, major publishers, book & magazine distributors, OverDrive & Libby are using the tool as well to promote authors and reading. This tool is definitely teen friendly and gives a platform to engage with our students that's not just for "old people".




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2 Comments


Alma Rios
Alma Rios
Dec 01, 2022

Your information was very elaborate and interesting to read. I particularly enjoyed reading the article "Conquering Social Media for Your Library:" The suggestions provided are definitely something to follow before posting anything on social media for any of the library's accounts. Finding the proper social media platform to utilize to advertise and advocate for the library program will be of great benefit to everyone in the school community. Oh, and why not find fun ways to engage the patrons in discovering the awesome resources available to them? Thanks for sharing!

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Elyanna Gonzalez
Elyanna Gonzalez
Nov 19, 2022

Brandi,

I really enjoy reading your blogs. The attention to detail and facts you point our are great resources for us, as readers, to know. For first time users, the guides you added would be very useful. Of the three, I think twitter is easier to spread awareness. Instagram would be useful for its appealing nature and how images can spread awareness.

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