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How social is your social media?

July 22, 2015

For the past eight years, I have helped or solely managed public, special academic, and four year academic social media page(s) primarily using the Facebook platform. If your institution has not engaged in the social media realm or even if you have been working with one for years, I think that every social media manager can admit that with the constant, fast changing nature of social media, it can be helpful to gain any assistance and insight into strategies for connecting, posting, and beyond. As such, I recently attended a Skill Path seminar in Pittsburgh, PA titled Social Media Marketing. Even though the content was geared towards businesses, the basic ideals resonate with any industry.

The initial thought provoking question from the presenters was how social or fun is your social media? It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me as the presenters asked ‘why do you personally use social media?’ Do you want to look at generic advertisements plastered in your news feeds? With Facebook’s new customizable feeds, it is possible that people that have ‘liked’ your page never see your postings. My heart sank when I thought of all the postings I had created that did not utilize videos or pictures and were primarily textual micro-commercials about the library (i.e. services, collections, building news and events). I am rarely interactive and social in nature. As the seminar presenter suggested — give them something that they haven’t seen or a purple cow. (If interested in a purple cow example, ask me about the funeral home story below).

What is the best way to approach creating a social, social media campaign? With this question at hand, the presenters emphasized the importance of not just a social media policy (best to post one online for legal purposes) but an overall strategy the might change and revise based on different campaigns. Admittedly the idea of campaigns is a marketing term that I had not fully transferred to the management of library specific social media management.

What is the first step of any successful campaign? The presenters suggested creating a persona of one customer you want to target. In regards to academic libraries, I would probably target different services such as information about course reserves to freshman students versus finals week de-stress events to upperclassman in majors with especially stressful finals. I have noticed that this similar strategy is helpful when planning events in the library and partnering with a club or class can improve attendance. As such, I plan to reach out to these audiences via social media more directly in the future including posting on their feeds or direct messaging and asking the manager to post on their page(s). In the social media realm, typically it is a give and take relationships and if you post or retweet for me, I will do the same for you in the future.

While successful social media strategies are not created overnight, managing expectations by not overselling or setting the bar too high can lead to disappointment. Begin small and look for ways to enter into the conversation, for instance, recently a Twitter post mentioned that it would be awesome if colleges offered a buy one get one free semester coupon. I responded that academic libraries do offer free downloads of thousands of e-books, journals articles, and more- no coupon required. They proceeded to retweet and favorite this response creating important interactions and building relationships.

While we can never know everything about social media, academic libraries can create strategies for marketing every aspect of libraries’ via these platforms. In the meantime, I am thinking about ways to add more ‘social’ into postings and offering more interactive features, pictures, and videos. For instance, I am thinking about a behind the scenes, day in the life of a library student worker via videos and images or as a fellow colleagues mentioned a ‘behind the stacks’ campaign. I am curious to see how many library student workers know about the library social media pages and hope to gain more followers. I am also considering a contest among the student workers to help boost followers and likes.

Other interactive postings including pictures and videos ideas:

  • create hashtags for specific courses and offer virtual reference
  • reference referral videos or pictures and text
  • regular researcher features
  • pack the library Greek event hashtag supporting research rescue
  • lost in the stacks assistance via Twitter direct message
  • feature study group successes
  • stacks pictorial scavenger hunts
  • Twitter Bingo
  • Social Media Scrabble
  • interview students using the display windows in the library
  • create short videos on students tabling in the library

Interested in continuing this conversation or brainstorming more ideas, please comment below or email Skill Path offers other leadership seminars around the state of Pennsylvania on a variety of topics. The reference books related to the social media conference can be found here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christina Steffy permalink
    July 22, 2015 12:58 pm

    Great post and info! I never heard of Twitter Bingo. I have found it’s often very helpful to look at information from outside of the profession to learn ways to improve our own marketing practices, especially when it comes to social media.

  2. July 22, 2015 3:07 pm

    Hi Christina,

    Thank you for the positive response and praise. I agree that I also look for ways to gain information outside the profession and use it to relate and enhance my skills and marketing practices. I know that there is a free PodCamp Pittsburgh event that I am interested in looking into 8/15 and 8/16 ( Some other sites I found interesting were ( and a webinar on Social Media ( I hope you find these helpful as well. I have only tried Twitter Bingo once. I used it as a contest during NLW and adapted the idea from another IUP organization.

  3. March 13, 2017 8:07 am

    Interesting article! You have put up there pretty neat list. Will definitely try out Social Media Scrabble and Twitter Bingo. They both are new to me! —

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