Humanizing your Facebook Pages

A “Book and Digital Media Studies” student (wow – what a cool-sounding program!) emailed me last week, asking about my favorite university library Facebook Pages. Well … to be honest, I can’t say I frequent university library Facebook Pages much.

But I followed up a bit, and did a search in Facebook for university library then narrowed the search to Pages, and found over 500 university libraries with Facebook Pages.

As I browsed through the list, I started noticing that some Pages had low friend counts in the 0-30 range, and many were in the 70-200 range. And there were a handful that had thousands of friends:

Why do these Pages have more friends? Glancing through them, it looks like they are doing one thing – they are humanizing their Facebook Pages. What do I mean by that?

They’re “doing stuff.” Stuff like this:

  • Posting regular status updates
  • Interacting with visitors in the comments of status updates – some status updates have 20-30 comments, as well as “Likes”
  • Pointing to stuff that’s happening in the library (ie., lectures)
  • Regularly add photos and videos – sometimes hundreds of them.
  • They use Facebook’s Events feature to list events.

How about libraries with a low fan count? Here’s one example – the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library, with 7 fans. What are they doing? Nothing. They have 1 status update, from August 2009. Their most recent activity was adding the library’s website url, mailing address, and phone number.

So, to answer the question “Do students friend university library Facebook Pages?” (I hear that one a lot) the answer would be yes – IF those pages are being humanized. Looks like the pages with high fan counts have constant activity streams. Pretty much every day or so, something is happening on those Pages – there are regular status update posts, photos or videos are being added, and event reminders are being posted.

Basically, activity attracts Facebook users. Think of your Facebook Page like a party. Anyone ever attended a dead party? If there’s nothing going on, the party goers quickly find an excuse to leave, because the party is boring, right? In the same way, if your Facebook Page has no updates … your party is boring, and you are inviting your students to go do something else.

This is easily fixable if you do one simple thing. Post an update every day, and make it interesting. Examples from the Fan-heavy pages above include helping students out – pointing to a book/resource that has the “answers” for an assignment, just sharing an interesting tidbit of university or library news, sharing quotes, etc. Pretty normal stuff – just shared with Facebook users.

But if you’re not human, if nothing’s going on … no one will show up to your party.

Bunny by Alyssa Miller

  • Peter Jorgensen

    We passed the 1000 fans mark on our FB page this week!

  • calamito

    I am happy my question was so inspiring for you:) Thanks for your tips and thoughts!:)

  • Fiona Grady

    We just passed 100 friends last week. It's something I never thought would happen when I started the page.

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  • calamito

    Why is it so difficult for you to have new friends on FB? I think there are many ways how to let your visitors know where to find you online… Like print our little cards (something like – really love their mini:) with links and some useful info about your library (opening hours) and leave them on info desk, around computers etc., to add some little info on the wallpaper on all computers in the library or to some nicely designed start web page… What about asking nicely your fans on FB to recommend your page to their friends? I do run FB fan page for my parent's czech online shoes shop and we have 600 friends after 2 months… I added little banner on their web page, mentioned it on a few related forums and time to time I did photo contests which won photos with the most “likes” so people were inviting their friends to vote for them:) For now I post interesting stuff every 2-3 days, use personal language, ask our fans for their opinions, taste,… I am sure something similar must work for libraries…?

  • Maryanne Mills

    Your article is very timely for us here at West Valley College. We are just starting to set up a Facebook page and your examples will be very helpful indeed.

  • miranda

    The Harold B. Lee Library also has several fans. Just sayin'.

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  • BookGirl

    an interesting blog post that library fans will want to read and comment upon:

  • mayormeor

    dude, nice blog you have here. I'm a librarian, here in Malaysia. How wonderful to have a nice blog of same career scope. Thanks.

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  • Houston Librarian

    No need to be a fan of a page that never updates. Not much upside there.

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    This was a useful post and I think it is rather easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful.

  • Electronic Cigarette

    This is a great post. Most fan pages, and I fan a lot of pages(though mostly bands) are completely inhuman. They spew out a status update every day thats robotic and if you respond you will never get a response.

    Hell, a lot of actual people I know on facebook don’t even respond when you reply to a status update. Its frustrating how anti social a social network can be.

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  • Rent a Car

    Your article is very timely for us here at West Valley College. We are just starting to set up a Facebook page and your examples will be very helpful indeed