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Strategically leveraging new social media for libraries: Entering with intent

Detail of Communications Handbook cover

By now, thankfully, there is a lot of information out there about how to use social media. Check out what Andy Burkhardt has to say in Getting Started With Social Media For Your Library and what Nancy Dowd has to say in Social Media: Libraries are Posting, but is Anyone Listening?

We know we want to focus on building interactive communities with real conversation and feedback.

Vine and Soundcloud

Now, what about the new kids in town?

I’m talking about Vine (the six second looping video app that posts to Twitter) and Soundcloud (social sharing of music and podcasts). I’ll fess up: I’m not an early adapter. However, with two specific and strategic ideas, I was eager to launch projects leveraging these tools.

First, Vine. Since we have an inspiring collection of fine artists’ books in our Special Collections, many of which offer interactive and unexpected payoffs for the reader, it seemed like a fun vehicle to showcase our collection. So, this summer the communications and public programs students assistant and the special collections assistant partnered to create a fun series you can follow on our Twitter.

Second, Soundcloud. Since we do the hard work of making podcasts to share and document our programs, Soundcloud is a logical place for those audio files to live. Not just live, but be discovered. Already, as we’re busy uploading this summer and before we’ve started promoting that’s happening. I know because Soundcloud offers easily accessible analytics that show who is listening where.

Listen to Kennedy Library’s growing collection on Soundcloud.

Developing a social media project plan for libraries

Here are some questions to ask when considering using social media at your library:

1. Why do we want to do this and for who?

2. Who and what is doing something cool in these spaces? Does it inspire us? I’m not talking only about other libraries for inspiration here, either.

3. Who is in charge of this project? How often are they going to post? What are they going to post?

4. How will we know if we are successful? The answer is not about going viral.

5. Where is our plan going to live so we all know what’s going on?

Launching new content

To launch Vine, four of us got together to talk through the opportunities (sharing collections with the world) and the challenges (time, new tools, maybe copyright). Then we got nitty gritty in terms of naming the series, identifying recurring hashtags and determining a realistic schedule of posts. We also started thinking about how we can promote the series, which is often the part that falls by the wayside.

Launching Soundcloud involved prioritizing and organizing content, determining tone and considering the best tags. We discussed a doable deadline and got to uploading. Next up, we’ll again need to be sure we dedicate time to promoting the series once the academic year is here.

Communications context

These efforts are within a larger communications context that the communications group developed in this past year together. We explained the spirit of our social media intentions along with a practical Do and Don’t guide that grounds new users. You can find this communications handbook (look for the lime!) at Kennedy Library.

Show and tell us more

What new social media are you experimenting with at your library? We’d love to hear about your ideas and experiments or answer your questions.

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