IL2011: Social Media

Social Media Strategy & Goals
David Lee King, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Talked to a bunch of libraries about what they do in the social media sphere. There is no instruction manual yet for this stuff. Just start – then tweak.

Just start – Lester Public Library (WI) – 2007. Set up Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube. Goals were just to start and also wanted to claim the name — one of four Lester PL’s in WI.

Start small – create a pilot at see how it goes. Part of David’s job at Topeka. If it’s not working – then stop. Example at Topeka was Second Life — only people into it were the staff who started it. Blogs worked for them so they expanded it.

Start smart – small task force to see what other libraries and small corporations were doing. had to do the research to get the city people to agree to it.

Gotta have a strategy and goals, but know they will change. Topeka has a digital branch that’s been growing and morphing. People in charge of travel collection are in charge of travel blog. David helps them come up with a schedule for the team re: posting.

San Jose wanted to just do something and get rid of all the old services they weren’t using anymore (LiveJournal, MySpace, etc). They review new services as they appear to keep an eye on things and see if there are any they want to adopt.

Assign tasks/roles to the team. You to FB status updates, you check for comments, you look for mentions and retweets, etc. Make sure you figure out who keeps the passwords.

What goals? Identify your audience and create content for them. Or identify what kind of content you want to provide (video, picture, etc). Identify your evil plan! Lester wanted their city out there – noticed there were no photos of the community on city websites so the library ID’d this as a goal.

Branding – not a goal but important to keep in mind. You want people who visit your social media sites and know whose stuff they’re looking at.

Set the direction – might be slightly different for each service. Twitter for announcements, FB for more conversational stuff.

Biggest goal is to connect with your patrons/community.

Identify your audience. What’s the overlap between any given digital service you’re using and another service, overlap between those who come into the building. For Lester PL audience initially was the other city managers. Topeka is focusing on segments that don’t have library cards. They’re engaging with Twitter users, who are media folks and other nerds. Gets them positioned well. Facebook is where the “regular folks” are. Engaging in a different way. Skokie is developing personas for each social media site.

Check your analytics. FB and YouTube have this, Twitter via third-party tools. Varies, but see what you can get. Some of the stuff is weird though – analytics for FB show most people coming from three hours away, maybe an ISP is based there?

Go where people gather. Find out if your community is using whatever is it. Yes? Then be there. No? Then why bother? Good example right now is G+. This will grow, but for now we don’t know. Find out about it but don’t spend a ton of time setting up services around it.

Sustain it. Can’t use volunteers! Easy to set up – harder to maintain. Don’t be the library with the “what’s new” blog that hasn’t been updated in two years. Figure out who is going to do this, if they leave identify someone else to take over. If you have the staff a team-based approach is better than a single person. Let staff own it. People will only get comfortable with something if they can use it on their own terms. Don’t micromanage it. You’re seriously going to approve every tweet? Train & trust your staff. Haveng your marketing director manage this all is like having that person sit at the circt desk.

Lester PL – they update everything 5 days a week with fresh content. First thing in the morning answer all the comments, post a few things. Works pretty well for them. Seattle PL – team meets weekly to figure out how to do their social media better. Constant evolution.


Q: What percent of your team’s time is spent on this? A: For David, Twitter is constantly in the background so easy to monitor that. Told his staff a blog post shouldn’t take more than 10-20 minutes.

Q: Municipal library – how do I argue with the people in charge to get them to allow us to let patrons post to our wall, etc? A: Do they block public discourse at a town hall meeting? No. Try to get them to understand that it’s a conversation in a public place. Show them other cities that are doing what you want. Similar size, sister city, etc.

Q: Creepiness factor. More success if you’re aggressively starting conversations, but how do you do this without being a creep? A: If they are friending you, they expect a conversation, content. As long as they no it’s the library it’s probably OK and not as creepy as you think.

Q: Did you do assessment of this with patrons? A: Sorta/kinda. With last website redesign had focus groups and did ask about a little bit of this stuff. Once in a while we just ask them in that space, what do you want from us here? Informal. What do you expect to get out of friending us?

Q: How do you deal with the fact that your % of social media people may be very small, mostly staff & their families? A: Look at the interaction, not the number of followers.

Q: Do you use FB to cross promote website? A: Yes, blog posts. Especially event information. Numbers go way up when they cross promote.

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