Archive for August, 2012

Using Social Media in Your Library: Consider Your Audience and Purpose

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.


New Series: Using Social Media in Your Library

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this summer I took a class focusing on libraries and Web 2.0.  For our final project, we split into groups according to the type of library in which we’d like to work and we were instructed to create a proposal and working model of a social media tool we felt would be useful for that type of library. As part of the proposal, we also had to pick a particular use or audience for the tool and justify its use. The public library group I was in chose to create a Tumblr aimed at individuals aged 18-25 (the proposal and model can be seen here and here).

The creation of this project, as well as what I’ve learned in previous tech classes  and my experience using social media for jobs and volunteer work,  inspired the list of topics I’d like to discuss over the next few days.  I’ll be discussing in depth a few aspects that should be considered before jumping into social media.  I am certainly not claiming to be an expert on the subject, but it is one that interests me.  I’d like to share that interest with all of you.  So, in the coming days, look for posts over these topics:

  1. Consider Your Audience and Purpose
  2. Choosing a Platform
  3. Delegating Responsibilities
  4. Creation of the Media
  5. Evaluation and Maintenance