I think we all agree that social media is an incredible tool that libraries can use to great benefit. The opportunities and limitless–who wouldn’t want an easy way to connect with patrons, disseminate information, share content, market programs, and conduct community outreach for FREE?! Talk about using your powers for good, sheesh. Not to mention the added benefit of the built-in younger demographic for whom social media is a part of every day life–this is the next generation of potential library lovers–reel ’em in! Their parents are trolling Facebook too–market those children’s programs, people!
Facebook done well, can help patrons view the library as the living breathing entity it truly is. Tipping patrons off to a great read or an upcoming event is a beautiful thing, and conveying a sense of personality in the process can really cement that library-patron connection. I think a measured combination of enthusiasm, information dissemination, and a welcoming tone are ideal. Be interested and interesting. Build a community, fire people up, inspire and inform them, get them in the door.
I love it when a library’s Facebook page conveys a sense of personality. But here’s the tricky part–how much is too much? Who among the staff can be entrusted as the gatekeeper, to set the tone? Do we need guidelines to follow, or just a sane, professional person? As we learned from Julie’s nod to the Applebee’s debacle, item #1 is to ensure the person has a solid grasp of Web 2.0. That can be a challenge, especially in smaller libraries where there may not be a qualified staffer with the proper training. The other scenario that can come up is internal barriers. Some libraries have an extensive bureaucratic system which things filter through that might make timely posting difficult or impossible. This is a major kink that’s got to be fixed–we can’t be relevant if we’re bound up in red tape.
Here’s a couple of examples of libraries that I think are getting it right on FB: