Mind The Gap: Looking For Library Users In All The "wrong" Places

Attracting The Gap

Solution #4 - Be Social

The Social Media Train

Social media is definitely a place where you can recruit from The Gap to use library services, come to programs, or even to build a space where they can come hang out digitally. It's not the easiest of things to do, because of the multitude of places where teens and adults can hang out and chat about interests and things, but there's a lot of potential in a well-managed social media account.

There are a lot of really bad reasons to get on social media, as a public libarary. If these are your reasons:

  • I want to tell our users all about our programs and little else.
  • I want to link to (or copy the text of) our press releases
  • No interesting links that are outside the library will be linked to.
  • Communication should be all about the library talking. Questions asked or conversation attempts will be ignored (or given the appearance thereof).
  • Communication must be approved before it will be releeased.
  • Marketing or Administration are the people who should be in charge of the social media account.
...then you're probably not ready for social media. A large amount of your potential audience will not see you as useful, interesting, or even worth their time, because all of your communication is going to be one-sided, marketing-related, and utterly boring. Being boring is not going to gather followers, re-postings, or any sort of community around your social media account. It's probably best not to join up unless you really have to.

There are better reasons to start or take control of your social media account:

  • I want to have real conversations with people.
  • People asking us questions will get real replies.
  • Interesting things on the Internet will be reposted on our account.
  • Marketing and Administration will be mostly hands-off with regard to the content on the social media accounts - they can contribute, but they do not get full control
  • All people who work for the library can post to the social media accounts. (...after training, if needed.)
  • The social media accounts will be checked regularly for new content, conversations, replies, or other interactions.
If these are the reasons that you want to get on social media, so that you can have a conversation with yourusers and with other interested and interesting people, then you've got the right idea, and your social media accounts will probably attract the right kind of attention that you're looking for.

Good social media management is a necessary thing in the digital age, but organizations that see it simply as a way of doing what they would normally do with physical media outlets are missing the point. This is another one of those places where being able to let go a little bit turns out to be very beneficial for an organization and its cool factor.