An introduction to using Social Media in your library
Firstly, social media is a great way to communicate with your students. Ten ideas are:
- Invite them to comment
- Poll them
- Provide customer service
- Share student’s work
- Share popular culture news and other community news
- Encourage discussion of hyperlocal interest
- Share work life behind the scenes
- Spotlight popular books
- Set reading challenges
- Use hashtags to connect related topics and student interests
Secondly, it is time flexible. Techsoup (2017) investigated 311 libraries, finding that most didn’t spend a significant amount of time on social media yet 44% still posted daily, sharing pictures, posts about local events, educating people about services, highlighting collections and supporting other libraries.
Thirdly, as their trusted information provider, your students want to hear from you. A 2010 survey by the UK Society of Chief Librarians found that internet users trusted library staff with the sharing of information more than most other providers of online support – coming only second to doctors. A massive increase in unreliable information sources over the last decade is further reason for your students to rely on and trust your ability to share information. This suggests that content you share will be well received, especially if it’s related to what they’re studying.
It costs nothing, eliminating financial restraint, expanding opportunity and encouraging experimentation. There are also other school librarians doing the same, and social media itself allows you to collaborate with them and understand what works. When working collaboratively, you can keep your finger on the pulse of the reading and literacy world as a whole, keeping up to date with book reviews, popular books and upcoming releases as well as engaging with authors and other readers. This aids accurate decision making when selecting new resources, ultimately encouraging student engagement and improving their literacy skills. And finally, it’s fun! It is a great way to connect with your students and it’s easy to promote social media accounts on your Accessit Web App. We have a video to help you with this.
So which platform should you use?
There are many different platforms that your students use these days, so the best way to find out is to ask them directly. However, the most popular platform among teenagers is undoubtedly TikTok.
Tiktok is a music and video platform where you can create and share videos up to 60 seconds long. There is also the ability to add filters, reactions, duets, and the ability to stitch your video to another one. There is a #booktok hashtag where you will find many library-related accounts. Mrs. Pope’s library is a good example of an experienced TikTokker and elementary school librarian who posts fun and helpful content. You can also share news from the publishing world, like this. It’s easy to add a News Item to your Web App inviting students to follow you on TikTok, and you could set challenges here for your students. Their efforts can be ‘stitched’ to your original video, allowing others to view, comment and try it themselves – getting everyone involved.
Twitter is a platform that encourages conversation with the use of ‘retweeting’ and hash tagging related topics. A Twitter widget can be added to your Accessit Web App and will automatically add your new Tweets to the top, creating a live feed for your students. You can refer to the aforementioned video to help you set this up.
YouTube has oodles of video content for librarians, and it’s extremely popular among teens. Via your Accessit Web App, you can share book trailers, movie trailers, videos on related topics and other entertaining content like this. We also have a video on how to embed YouTube videos on to your Web App which can you watch here.
Several libraries in the US have found using pictures online to be a good way to entice users to the physical space in the library (Wilson, 2021). Instagram is centred around photos making it the perfect platform for this. You can share photos of what’s going on in your library such as new events, any current themes or simply showing students how the space can be used, like this. There is also the #BookFaceChallenge with over 100,000 posts, where people post a photo of a book cover image merging well with the real-life background.
The example above is from The Daring Librarian Instagram account.
And note, measuring effectiveness, managing user engagement and assessing audiences are common challenges when measuring the success of social media. However, in the environment of a school library you are surrounded by your audience, giving you a direct understanding of how your posts impact their behaviors and interests.
- See your library attendance grow
- Hear conversations between students or hear from them directly
- See an increase in new comments added by students
- Receive entries for social media challenges
- Identify which books are being issued and if they are correlated to with your posts
And dependent on your “know-how” with technology, you can use Facebook or Twitter analytics to measure success too.
Finally, while student engagement is the most valuable benefit for everyone involved, it isn’t the only positive outcome. Ultimately, using social media as a communication tool will make your job easier and your time worthwhile. It is a tool your students are already using, so use it to take your library to them and to bring them to you.