Once in awhile, some of you guys ask me questions via email. Usually, I just answer back in another email. This time, I thought I’d also answer via a blog post – you might find something useful here, too.
The question was about social media – how does your library do it, how is it used, who manages it, etc. Here are the questions and my answers:
1. Should social media responsibilities fall within the scope of public relations and marketing? Who in your library has the responsibility?
In Topeka, our Digital Services Director (that’s me) has oversight of social media. He acts as our library’s digital branch manager. That said, social media is a shared responsibility. Usually, a social media push starts in our Creative Group – a team made up of web, marketing, and public services staff. This team gets a feel for a new service, sets some preliminary goals, and sets up the service for the library. The next step for us is to create a pilot project team made up of public services staff (and the digital services director and possibly a marketing staff member too).
Then we expand as needed. For example, our Facebook team includes 12-15 staff members, mostly public services staff.
2. Is your website managed within your IT department?
Our IT department is part of our digital branch. IT is under the direction of the digital services director. Our web developer and web designer are both part of the IT department, and also part of the Creative Group. They do all the back end development of the site. Most of the content on our website is developed and maintained by other staff in the library (usually public services staff). The digital services director sometimes edits content, and meets with staff to help provide general suggestions and direction for library content. Marketing also helps with this.
3. How do you use social media and your website to engage with your communities?
We use social media to connect with our community by sharing library stuff and staff. “Stuff” includes our materials, events, and services. “Staff” means just what it sounds like – our staff involved in social media work to engage our community. For example, on our Facebook Page, our Facebook team focuses on these areas: readers advisory, current events and trends, and library materials, events, and services. In every post, our goal is to connect and engage with customers (in Facebook, the more engagement you get, the more eyes see your post), to point back to the library, to answer questions as they occur, and to share the library with our online community.
4. How much control of message and brand is important, in contrast with community engagement on the part of many staff throughout your library system?
I can’t say this strongly enough – in social media, you simply cannot control the message. Your customers do. Most modern marketing books, websites, blogs, etc. say that social media is all about engagement. It is probably 90% customer engagement and conversation, and only 10% marketing. If you flip that ratio to 100% marketing, your followers will simply tune you out.
Think about social media like this – who sits at your reference desk? Who runs your programs, classes, and events? The marketing department, or front-line public services staff? Does your marketing department control and edit the conversations taking place at the reference desk? I’m guessing not.
Social media is the same – it’s customer conversations and engagement, just like in your physical buildings. It’s just happening in your “digital building” – on your website and in your social media accounts.
photo by Mixy