I know, I know, social media seems to be just another task to add to our mounting workloads. But, here is the secret - the important aspect we need to know - social media gives OUR patrons, OUR advocates, OUR fans, OUR community, a voice and a venue to talk about their library.
To make social media work for our libraries, it is important we have presence. Just like the library itself is evolving, so do marketing strategies and technologies. Although libraries are the cornerstones of communities, we still need to market, to get the word out, and to build support. Social media is a FREE and convenient way to market our library programs and services to a major demographic. You may be surprised to learn that the 35-54 year old segment is the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. And, per the Pew Research Center, the fastest Internet user demographic is the 70 year old and up crowd! We need to be where our patrons are.
So, let's say you set up a fan page on Facebook like Rice Lake Public Library or Cadott Public Library has done or a blog like Colfax Public Library or Hammond Community Library. This allows patrons and community members to get news about upcoming events on a medium they use throughout their day. People can also post comments about books they have read and start discussions. We give them the opportunity to interact with other patrons and love their library even more.
What about us? With social media we are given the invaluable gift of learning what our patrons and communities are saying about us. Getting in tune allows us to provide even better programs and services because we are reading first-hand what our patrons want. PLUS we get the added benefit of having our patrons market for us! When a recommendation comes from a trusted family member, friend, or colleague, people are more likely to check it out. This is what social media does - it allows our fans to an arena to talk about the things they love, like the library.
Don't get overwhelmed. Social media can be done in baby steps. Post a comment below or e-mail me to let me know what aspects of social media you are interested in so I can help.