For previous posts on Using Social Media in Your Library see this directory.
Today we’re going to talk about the issues of audience and purpose in social media. This should be your first step when considering social media. It might seem as if you should start by picking your platform, but I would argue that audience should be first. Your audience determines your purpose, direction, and platform. While a blog, Facebook page, or other platform can be a valuable asset to a library system, without specific focus they do little good and, in fact, can be detrimental. We’ve all seen those blogs or profiles that seem to have very little purpose or direction. Not only are those not very helpful to your audience, but they can make the library seem lacking in the necessary skills to keep up with the technological needs of patrons. In order to avoid this, you should carefully consider how you want to use your platform.
The first step is to ask yourself who you’re trying to reach. Will your platform be directed towards your entire user community? Or will it be more specific, such as a page just for the teen services or just for job seekers? Which audience you choose will determine which platform you will use, as certain platforms are better directed at certain age or interest groups. It will also determine the type of language and phrasing you use, your specific purpose, your frequency of updating, and many other facets of your use. When deciding on your audience, also consider whether social media is the best way to reach them. For some audiences (the homeless, for example) social media wouldn’t be appropriate. For others (teens or college students), if would be one of the better ways.
After determining your audience, you must then decide on a purpose. Will your platform contain information about programming or general library services? Will it focus on book reviews? Will it include resources? Or, perhaps, all three? Make sure that your purpose matches your audience. If the audience you chose includes unemployed, job seeking adults, having a blog that reviews new fiction wouldn’t be very useful. You also want a purpose that will be sustainable. You want to be able to update your media in a fairly regular manner and continue to do so for some time.
Now that you’ve thought about Audience and Purpose, stay tuned for next time when we’ll discuss Choosing a Platform.