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Social Listening By Committee

February 22, 2018

sociallisteningby committeeAs Access Services Librarian, I manage circulation, interlibrary loan, and the college archives. I supervise twenty student workers, two interns, and three staff members. I’m involved with instruction, as an embedded librarian in history classes held in the archives and as a first-year experience instructor. While marketing and social media are my passion, they are not always my priority.

My library added our social media channels late in comparison to our peer institutions. Our Instagram started in Sept. 2015, Facebook followed in June 2016 (showcasing our recent renovation), Twitter was next in February 2017 and Tumblr in June 2017 (capitalizing on the college’s wonderful and often unseen archival collection).

With the creation of our Facebook account, I was asked to establish a social media committee. It included another librarian, a part-time staff member, plus four savvy student workers. We met weekly and the feedback the students gave was critical. It was also really important to me, considering all my responsibilities, to carve out time for social media.

Often times I didn’t agree with or understand the students’ comments, suggestions, and feedback, but I really listened and thought critically about what they had to say. Many times they had very thoughtful and insightful ideas and suggestions and contributed at a high level. The committee’s feedback was and still is invaluable. The majority of what the students shared about their expectations of social media and specifically the library’s social media was echoed in more formal educational conferences and workshops that I have attended in the last few years.

The students also encouraged the committee to engage in what I later discovered to be “social listening” or monitoring digital conversations to gain insights about our followers. And while I interpreted it at first as “creeping,” I found value in understanding our social media audience.

While I’m sure no one really wants another meeting to attend or committee to join, I encourage you to carve time out of your busy schedules to listen to your audience in person and online. Once you have feedback, truly listen and act on suggestions when appropriate. This gen-Xer doesn’t always get it, but I haven’t stopped trying to understand and neither should you.

(Photo credit: Lebanon Valley College Archives, “Readers Club,” Quittapahilla yearbook, Internet Archive, 1930, http://bit.ly/2opCmiJ)

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