By: Laura Lawrie, Board Member
For: Red Rock News
Date: June 11 , 2010
Social Media and Your Library
Many library patrons are already aware that the library has a Web site, athttp://www.sedonalibrary.org/, which makes it easy to check the card catalog, search worldwide databases, check patron accounts, put books on hold, view upcoming events, and check contact information and hours for the library. But what is that funny little blue bird icon on the left-hand side, under the Quick Links, that says “twitter / FOLLOW US”?
Yes, Sedona Public Library has a presence on Twitter, at http://twitter.com/SedonaLibrary. Twitter, according to Wikipedia, is “a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers.” We use Twitter to publicize upcoming events at the library. Many of the library’s current followers “retweet” (republish) our tweets, which means that events can be publicized to a very wide audience, for free, in a matter of minutes.
Soon, you also will see a little button on the library Web page asking you to visit the Sedona Public Library’s Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sedona-Public-Library/111817612185348, and to “like” us. According to Wikipedia, Facebook is “a social networking website. . . . Users can add people as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by workplace, school, or college.” In addition to publicizing events at the library through our Facebook page, we also can share photos from these events, invite patrons and visitors to post comments, and learn more about our users. Because there is no limit on the number of characters or words, we can use the Facebook page to expand on the information published in our Twitter tweets. Tweets can direct followers to the library Web site and to the Facebook page. Although many of the same people who use Twitter are also on Facebook, there are some people who only use one or the other. Using both means that we can be sure to reach as many people as possible.
It used to be that all an individual, organization, or group needed was a Web site, and everything could be posted or published there. But as Web sites got more crowded, and as it became more difficult to update the information on them really quickly, social media sites stepped in. As an example, if we post an event on our Web site, it could take several days to go back in to the site to update the information. With Twitter, we can publish updates in a matter of seconds. And followers will receive the update without having to do anything—they just have to check their tweet timeline (which they would be doing anyway).
There are real advantages to using these social media tools:
- Marketing/Advertising: Sedona Public Library markets its services or and publicizes its events using traditional media: fliers, bookmarks, announcements in calendars of events, newspaper ads, press releases, and so on. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook is just another form of marketing that we can use. It is now the case that millions of people use social networks; a large percentage of the population that we serve does, too. We’re missing out on a lot of potential users—and supporters—if we avoid social media.
- Communication: Twitter and Facebook are terrific ways to get into contact with our patrons. A growing number of younger people believe that e-mail is no longer the way to keep in touch; instead, they use instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, or texts. Although many people still do business primarily through e-mail, it is important that we are aware of and recognize this new trend.
- Respond to Positive/Negative Feedback: Yes, people are talking about the library, to each other as well as on the Web. We need to be responsive to our patrons’ concerns or praise. We have to recognize that we can’t control what is said about the library anymore. However, we can take a more active role in influencing these messages.
- Understanding Users Better: Social media allows conversations with our users, and these conversations often reveal important insights. Simply talking with people allows you to get to know them better and, more importantly, serve them better. We should be having regular conversations with patrons both in person and through these social media sites. We may be surprised at what we learn!
To find us, search for SedonaLibrary on Twitter and Sedona Public Library on Facebook. If you want to be able to respond to or pass on a tweet or post to the Facebook page, you will need to have a Twitter or Facebook account. With all of the discussion lately about privacy, you may feel reticent about signing up. It is true that it will take time to set all of the privacy options, but it is well worth it. As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to join and keep in touch with what’s going on at the library!
Laura Lawrie , author of this week's article,
is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.