Susie Kirk and Lacy Wolfe from Henderson State University‘s Huie Library explore the reasons academic libraries need social media in their talk at HighEdWeb 2016. With thousands of hidden gems and resources in libraries its hard for visitors to know what exists at all. To raise people’s awareness of materials and services, social media is a valuable tool to promote resources, collections or upcoming events.
To create relevant content, it is essential to establish a comprehensive game plan. Creating a social media strategy does not have to be an intimidating process. Follow these five steps to create your social media plan of action:
Audit existing platforms and research competitors to find inspiring examples and best practices. Determine your target audience and social media platforms they frequent. Find existing hashtags that work, i.e. #Fridayreads to promote leisure reading, or #tbt to post historic pictures from the campus archives. Also, if you manage existing platforms, review your previous content, categorize the type of posts and see how people engage with your brand and the posts.
- Set goals.
Your social media goals should be SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and align with the campus’ strategic goals and the library mission. Define the desired outcomes of your social media strategy: i.e. increasing awareness and usage of e-resources, driving more traffic to your website, increase number of event attendees, etc.
- Create content.
One person does not have to be the sole content creator. Susie and Lacy regularly invite her team and colleagues to contribute to social media. Faculty and staff can share what they’re currently reading or recommend books that will be posted under the hashtag #FridayReads. Once a week, a live tweet hour that invites people to engage with librarians is held on the library’s Twitter account under the hashtag #askalibrarian. Utilize online design tools like canva.com for easy-to-use design templates that will help to get your messages across.
- Set a schedule.
Try to plan regular posts weeks or months ahead, then add spontaneous news/posts on-the-fly. Find a system that works for you: either follow the 80/20 rule (80% valuable content for your audience, 20% of self-promotion), or apply the rule of thirds (1/3 self-promotion, 1/3 shared content and 1/3 engagement). Make sure to connect and interact on social media with other departments or student clubs on your campus. Recommended tools are Hootsuite, Buffer or TweetDeck.
Take a look at analytics provided by the social media platforms or online tools. Make sure the content still complies with your original goals.