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David Lee King

Social Media Skills for Librarians



Last week, I gave a presentation at McGill’s Web2PointU Symposium – a cool conference run by students of the School of Information Studies at McGill University.

During that presentation (you can find my slides here), I mentioned new skills that information professionals need to successfully run social media for their organization. That list included these things:

  • The normal mad librarian skills (fill in the blank here). Searching, reader’s advisory, research, etc. These “traditional” skills can easily be used in a modern online setting.
  • Web and social media skills. As in, being an expert end user. It’s hard to be an expert in Google searching if you don’t really know all the bells and whistles of Google searching, for example (and yes, I’ve known librarians who really couldn’t use basic online search engines well, let alone a web browser). The same thing goes for social media tools – you won’t be very successful at running the library’s Twitter account if you don’t really “get” Twitter.
  • Writing skills. Most of us learned how to write in school. Unfortunately, we learned how to write business letters and academic papers. Guess what? That’s not how we should write on the web. If you want to start a conversation, you need to use a conversational writing style. If you want readers to quickly grasp your content, use some of those writing tips I mentioned in my article Writing for the Mobile Web.
  • Photo and video skills. Social media is very visual. Take a peek at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Slideshare, Vine, Flickr, Youtube, Vimeo, etc. All include photos and videos. That means YOU need to be able to create photos and videos that quickly communicate to your organization’s social media crowd.
  • Networking. Social media IS networking. Today’s librarian needs to be good at talking to a crowd – online and in-person.
  • Marketing & promotion. Part of your social media duties include sharing the cool stuff your library is doing.

What would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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