|Is it bad that I like seeing the Fail Whale? S/he's too cute & happy to hate.|
I don't quite remember how we got on the topic, but I had a long conversation with a coworker last week about the approach I take to managing my library's social networking presence, and about the successes I've seen with our Facebook page. She shocked me by suggesting I offer a workshop for the campus on the topic. I balked at this, since I don't think of myself as an expert on social networking, especially since we've really only had an active presence since the beginning of this year. However, social networking does seem perfect topic for a blog post, so here we are...
Yes. You read that correctly: my library only began our active engagement with Facebook at the beginning of 2012. It might seem odd, since libraries have been on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and MySpace (remember MySpace?) for a very long time now. I'll own it: I'm the reason we hadn't done anything yet. You see, I think very few institutions do social networking right, and I didn't want my library to be yet another example of what not to do. That's how I felt for a long time. Then I read this blog post by Steven Bell and this one by Brian Mathews, and it opened my eyes. Between these two giants of academic librarianship, I found a reason for my library to embark on a social networking journey: it was another venue to talk with the passionate library users in my community. So, instead of pushing my and/or my library's agenda out through Facebook and Twitter, I mostly post things that I think will make our followers think or smile or even laugh. Also, and I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I once read or someone told me that the reason people follow a Twitter stream &/or like a Facebook page is because they want to hear from that entity, so I post every weekday - without fail.
Here are some examples of what I've posted:
- Important information like when the library has a change in hours;
- Interesting new acquisitions (almost exclusively popular materials);
- Relevant news items such the death of a famous author/musician or award announcements;
- lots and lots of pretty &/or funny pictures that are at least tangentially related to the library;
- every once in a great while, something just for the fun of it.
Admittedly, I'm still experimenting with different ratios of this kind of post to that, with time of day, and so on, but I know I'm achieving my aim. How do I know it's working? I've seen a slow but steady growth in our following, and that tells me that I'm doing something right. More importantly, though, people "like" our posts - people who don't work in the library. I've even had people seek me out in person to tell me how much they liked something I posted. That tells me that I'm reaching those passionate library users, and that's what I wanted.
So how about you? What makes you like &/or follow a institutional account? What are your pet peeves? What makes you unlike/unfollow? If you are in charge of an institutional account, how do you pick what you're going to post?