After doing brand monitoring research for the past few weeks, looking closely at Skokie Public Library (and not so closely at several other libraries), I decided to put together a list of “do’s and don’ts” for librarians on successfully utilizing social media.
This is what I learned from doing brand monitoring and what I personally would recommend to libraries that are getting started with social media.
Tip #1: Learn how to monitor your brand
Join the RIGHT conversations at the RIGHT time. In other words, stay on top of what people are saying about you and make sure to respond, to let people know that you are listening and willing to join the conversation.
Tools to utilize for brand monitoring include RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Technorati, and staying on top of your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. This is definitely the number 1 lesson I learned from this assignment.
Tip #2: Learn from your brand community
You’re already engaging in conversations, why not ask people for some feedback? There are plenty of quick and easy ways to get good information that will help you keep learning from what you’re doing and improving the process as you go along. Just make sure not to overdo it; remember to always engage in conversations as a person.
Tip #3: Have a game plan
Set goals, measure and iterate your social media efforts in order to continue to grow and improve your efforts. Make sure everyone who is involved in your social media strategy clearly understands the role and goals of this initiative. There’s nothing worse than joining a social network with no purpose, plan or a way to measure what you’re doing.
By using trackable links (like bit.ly or su.pr) to help track what your users are responding to, you will be able to measure your efforts and make improvements.
Tip #4: Promote, promote, promote
I noticed a lot of libraries who do wonderful things on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr yet they don’t include links to their social networks on their websites. Or libraries that use Twitter often but don’t follow anyone; that’s not a good way to start a conversation.
A library website should be an entry point to social media; you need to create awareness. People should not have to search for you on Facebook, or Twitter, you should reach out to every member of your community first.
Tip #5: Allow open, yet governed access for your employees
This is where a social media policy comes in. By making sure everyone who is involved in your efforts understands what to do (what they’re allowed to say, how they should respond in different situations, etc) you won’t have to monitor what each person does. Instead, you will be able to focus on making improvements.
One tip about your social media policy — make sure it’s succinct and to the point, otherwise no one will want to read it.
Tip #6: Stay relevant and be helpful
Use social media to build trust, credibility and awareness in your community. Instead of broadcasting information, try creating conversations. Remember, speaking doesn’t always result in being heard.
Be helpful, stay relevant and focus on your community’s needs. It’s also important to humanize your efforts; don’t hide behind your library’s logo, allow your users to get to know you as a person.
Tip #7: Give your community room to grow
Focus on small, consistent and ongoing change. Let your members decide how they want to use “their” online community. Listen to what they have to say and change your goals and objectives based on how your community wants to utilize social media.
Tip #8: Remember, you’re not alone
By building relationships with key people within your community who also utilize social media you can leverage your efforts and obtain better reach. People who are influencers, those who are natural communicators or leaders in your community can help your social media efforts immensely. Identify these people and ask for help. Word of mouth can be very powerful.
Tip #9: Go where your users are
Remember, you don’t have to be an early adopter. It is much better to wait for your community to start utilizing the technology before adding it to your social media arsenal. In short, go where your users are. It’s much easier for someone to join you on Facebook or Twitter if the person actually uses the technology.
Tip #10: Lead change
This is important, especially for libraries that can be very resistant to change at times: if you want to lead change, find one thing you said no to in the past and give it a try.
This last tip is actually something I heard at a digital marketing conference I got a chance to attend last month, but I think it applies great to libraries and social media.