Facebook At Work

Part of my new job is to manage and grow the library’s Facebook account.  I’ve run my employer’s blog before, so I thought this would be nothing new, but I’ve come up against some roadblocks.  I’m struggling with how to make a topic interesting and engaging to those outside the profession through social media.

The challenges I’m facing:

  • I’m working with people, one in particular, who while eager to utilize Facebook as a tool, aren’t quite getting what our target audience is.  She seems to be mixing information that our patrons could use or would find interesting with what she as a library professional finds interesting and could use.  I hate to play the generational card on this one, but she is older.  Perhaps I’m more in tune with what a student would want out of their research tools having been a student much, much more recently than she was.
  • I work with people (who happen to be the same as the above mentioned people) who can’t let go of control of the account.  I’m getting “ideas” for posts in my email almost daily for things that are irrelevant and frankly boring.  I don’t know how to either tweak those ideas into something engaging or politely tell these people to “step off my area, yo.”
  • I don’t know what we should be telling our followers.  Are we using Facebook as an outlet for a change in hours or computer policy?  Are we trying to promote history (since we’re a military history research library) and an interest in academic discovery in general?  Are we directing it toward our current students (who are only around for about six months), their project deadlines, and immediate research needs?  Are we showcasing our collection and abilities as a library for potential users?
  • The space isn’t engaging.  People rarely comment and the regulars are other librarians.

While I personally avoid Facebook like the plague in my personal life and don’t necessarily agree with the trend toward using it for everything in the known universe, I have embraced this task with abundant enthusiasm at work.  I love getting other people interested and familiar with libraries and their resources because I love these things too.  Plus it lets me be creative in a rigid, order-centric profession.

I was lucky enough to work with a great librarian at a previous job who is at the forefront of the technology movement in libraries.  Her name is Meredith Farkas, and she has written a book on the topic (Social Software in Libraries), spoken at numerous conferences, and keeps up a blog over at Information Wants to be Free.  Having worked with her before, I had been exposed to some of these issues previously although I hadn’t given them a lot of thought professionally.  I’ve picked up her book along with several others and have been thinking a lot.

This is what I’d like to accomplish and am trying to do:

  • I need to make our page more interactive.  I want to ask questions and pose odd or sensational but relevant topics that might jump start conversation and elicit feedback.
  • I have to get rid of the library professional development that keeps popping up on the page.
  • I’d like to create some sort of a monthly quiz/contest that draws people in by offering something as a prize but causes them to either come into the library or search our webpage to answer.  I want to be sneaky, sneaky and really get people to learn a bit about how to use library resources.
  • I’d like a byproduct of all this to be higher visitor numbers to the Facebook page since that’s how my success is being measured for monthly reports.

So now I’d like your thoughts.  Do any of you guys use Facebook regularly?  As humans who frequent business fan pages on Facebook, what do you like to see or how do you like to use their pages?  I know some of you work in education.  Any tips for making education topics more engaging?  For those who live via social media, any success tips that you can share?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Wiley
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 23:54:18

    Ok, so this is ridiculously late and probably no longer helpful. I wouldn’t say I live by Facebook, but I do use it every day. One of my favourite business on facebook is my local radio station in Canberra (‘666 ABC Canberra’ if you want to check it out). They use to page to highlight really good interview or stories – either upcoming or recently aired, and it’s a great way to access community feeling. A lot of their posts are asking for feedback on radio topics. Much like a library, I would imagine, most of the ‘fans’ are adults and fairly well educated so the discourse, while passionate, is usually very polite and moderate. I’ve never seen them have to moderate anything. If anything, the most effective way to kill a topic is to let someone rant and leave it at that, no response etc. But what I really like about their facebook page is that I learn things I could not find out from their website or from tuning in. I think that’s the key to a successful social media strategy – you have to offer something unique that users can’t find elsewhere.
    The other thing is, stay on message. If you are still trying to figure out what you are trying to communicate, then back off a little. If you’re all over the place people tend not to stick around because it’ like having an incoherent conversation. But if you stay on message (and all your posts are related to history, for example) then you start to draw in a crowd that appreciates and seeks out that content, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

    Reply

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