I was recently able to attend one of the social media strategy training days that have been organised as part of the marketing strand of Libraries Inspire. The team at Wrexham had commissioned Howard Scott (@Howard_Scott), a digital media expert, to deliver six training days across Wales, with a cross-library sector audience. In two weeks. Quite a task! The day was targeted at those who already had experience of social media, rather than the basics of ‘how to set up a Facebook account’.
Howard started off by outlining the key trends in social media, noting how for an increasing number of people, social media tools/applications/websites are now the main experience of the Internet. Social media has now become a part of many people’s personal and professional lives, to the extent that the newbie on the block (Pinterest) has been referred to as digital ‘crack cocaine for women’ - apparently about 80% of its current users are female.
Now, hands up all those who had started in social media by thinking “Oooh, I’d love to write a blog” or “Oooh, I need to be on Facebook”. Yep, me too. WRONG! One of the key messages of the day was: “Don’t start with the social media tool, but the activity you want to undertake.” Just because a new social media channel comes along, it doesn’t mean you have to join it right now. Think about what you want to achieve first. Are you trying to increase membership figures, increase attendance at events or share your knowledge? Depending on what you want to do you should choose different social media tools. It’s obvious when you’re told, but I think we have a tendency to get distracted by the new shiny whizzy nature of social media tools and want to jump on the latest bandwagon without really thinking what we’re doing and why. And it’s all just so easy that you don’t stop and think too much about whether this is the most appropriate tool etc.
Well, from now on librarians in Wales WILL be thinking strategically about their social media use! Howard took us through various ways of approaching the planning, execution, monitoring and measuring of social media campaigns and there were lots of useful tips and ideas. He particularly recommended working through POST: People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology, credited to the Groundswell book, using market research data to help your planning, and, avoiding vanity metrics counting. Hands up those of you who check your stats (followers, blog hits etc…) every day/hour etc? Yep, me too!
We also looked at the business case for using social media and discussed the barriers that may exist. Although there is still some senior management/corporate fear about staff using social media for work purposes in some library sectors, this is slowly changing in Wales. You may like to read this guest blog by one local authority (Monmouthshire) who found the world didn’t end when all staff (yes, all staff) had access to social media in work.
I also learnt about two monitoring tools for Twitter (socialmention and tweetreach) which I’ve tested just now. Both show the ‘reach’ of your Tweets (in my case, a bit less than the reach of Howard’s….) and can help you identify your key influences, sentiment analysis (whether people are being nice about you or not) and a few other things besides. For libraries, this could be very useful.
All in all, it was a very useful day. And I’ve got some homework to do now!
PS the day I attended was in the newly transformed Llanelli library – worth a visit!