Anne’s post here brings up some interesting questions about the risks of using social media as a marketing tool. Spam and privacy concerns are certainly issues which need to be considered by any organization hoping to use social media to connect with its customer base (or user base, in the case of libraries), and this is no less true of libraries than it is of private corporations. But libraries may have extra hurdles to overcome in their attempts to use social media, as described in this article posted on The Digital Shift:
A new analysis of user comments on the Facebook page of academic libraries indicates that most students “appear to reject connecting with their libraries on Facebook.”
The study, which appears in the current issue of D-Lib Magazine, by Michalis Gerolimos of the Alexander Technological Educational Institute in Thessaloniki, Greece, examined 3,513 posts on the Facebook pages of 20 U.S. academic libraries.
Significantly, Gerolimos found that 91 percent of the posts did not generate any comments, and the few comments that do appear are primarily by library personnel rather than by faculty or students.
Call it the “build it and they will come” fallacy: while the experts are clear that social media is a tool like any other and must be wielded carefully to be effective, the layperson can perhaps be forgiven for assuming that it’s as easy as creating a Facebook page and waiting for the Likes to roll in. And the study linked above seems to suggest that libraries face additional challenges simply by virtue of their status as libraries. They are not, after all, businesses in the traditional sense; perhaps this difference is reflected in how users choose to interact with their libraries on social media platforms.
But traditional businesses or no, libraries still face budgetary constraints like any organization, and they must make hard decisions about where and how to expend resources. Therefore, my posts will explore some of the questions raised by the survey linked above. What is the public’s perception of the role of social media in a library setting? How does a library differ from a business, and how should those differences inform a social media strategy? What assumptions must be challenged before libraries can take advantage of the various social networking tools available?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!