Social media has become an indispensable part of our lives—and during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, it has made it easier for libraries to stay connected with their patrons, even when they can’t be together in person. As the social media strategist for Infobase, I am continually investigating social trends and hot topics and have been impressed by the creative versatility of our librarians and thought leaders. Here, I will list some basic strategies and tips on how libraries can utilize social media to spotlight their resources, promote programs and events, and engage their communities.
It is crucial to stay ahead of the trends by knowing your audience’s preferences, including their favorite genres, books, authors, and needs.
The chaos that is COVID-19 shifted the foundation of everything from school and job searching to college readiness, plus it created new trends in exercising and even bread baking. Research the resources and tools your followers need before they ask to go looking for it.
Consider ways to aid those who are navigating the world of virtual job interviews and working from home. Hold an event with keynote speakers discussing tips on how to prepare for these new career scenarios. Reach out to your local community college or school counselors and go LIVE on Facebook or Instagram.
Picking a college is challenging enough for high school students, but during a pandemic? The added pressure and lack of resources may make it difficult to navigate, but not impossible. Use your social media platforms to highlight your college-ready resources, with login instructions, video demonstrations on how to access the products, and key links and content.
I have been impressed by the libraries I’ve seen on social media that have put a creative spin on their displays and virtual events, from exercise nights with a recorded or live yoga session, bread baking events, themes around unique dishes or crafting, and more. Engage your followers on social media with pictures from your events, the dishes being created, and families coming together. You can even ask if families are willing to submit photos to promote on your social media!
Want to know what your patrons are reading? I am a dedicated Goodreads user who spends countless hours researching which books to read next (and I love reading other users’ entertaining reviews!). If you are looking to attract a particular type of reader (for example, YA), check out the most popular books in that genre and post pictures and announcements of the books to capture the interest of your followers. eBooks are also a great option to promote, especially for those who are cautious about social distancing.
Choose the Right Social Platforms for Your Needs
Facebook is the platform to connect with your patrons of all ages and a great place to list your library’s information, hours, and links to your resources and home page. Facebook Live makes it easy to livestream events, broadcast storytimes for young patrons with popular children’s books, or host guest speakers. Promote your events through relevant Facebook groups and posts to your library’s Facebook page.
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Twitter is a great tool for staying up to date on trending topics and hashtags and sharing information with your followers. It’s a valuable platform for finding other thought leaders and librarians and sharing information, links, and images. For your public library, Twitter is ideal for announcements, memes, and even GIFs.
Instagram is a visual platform that is all about images. This is where you can show off your imaginative side! To create artistic, social posts, I recommend using Canva.com where you can access premade posts and change the text and art as needed. Instagram also has features like Instagram Story and Live, where you can announce giveaways and contests, share photos, and even post a #Shelfie (a selfie with a bookshelf).
One of the newer platforms, TikTok is a social media platform mainly popular with millennials and Gen Z. Here, you can create fun and engaging videos, connect with other librarians, and share your opinion and thoughts on popular issues.
Save Time and Schedule Your Posts
Scheduling your posts ahead of time is a game changer! There is no need to rush to your social platform, remember your username/password, your first pet’s name, the street you lived on when you were a kid—a scheduling platform makes things simple. I use Hootsuite for our Infobase social media, and it has been a lifesaver since I manage several of our social accounts.
A scheduling platform can also be useful when planning your calendars and scheduling posts for future events and holidays. For example, if you already know what you are planning for Halloween in September, all you need to do is log in to Hootsuite, create your social media posts, and schedule the day and time the posts should go live. Set it and forget it!
When is the best time to post? It all depends on your audience, but I personally found that the best time to post is around lunchtime (11 AM–1 PM) and the evenings (7 PM–9 PM).
My last tip is to consider signing up for Linktree, a platform that I recently ran across and find extremely useful. Linktree is the perfect tool for gathering all of your library’s links in one convenient location, and you can customize and have the analytics readily available. Here’s an example of how I use it.
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