How can libraries strike a balance between upholding the values of privacy in the profession and taking advantage of new sources of advertising to promote the library? Social media marketing is a great way to get the word out about their services and events, but librarians are crusaders for the right to privacy! After all, if librarians carry a torch for privacy, they wouldn’t want to violate that privacy by accessing social networkers’ private information in order to target them for ads before they even walk through the library doors!
My suggestion for libraries is to avoid targeted ads (if you are unfamiliar with targeted ads, see my previous post, Libraries and Facebook Advertising). They are expensive, ineffective, and the violate trust. Even if your address is private, an advertising company working with a social media company could still find out where you live and target ads to you based on that criteria. As a library patron, I sure wouldn’t want my library violating my privacy online!
A better social media marketing technique would be to create a library page on Facebook. Make sure to advertise the page at the library, on flyers, and even on due date receipts! This way, patrons can access information on the library if they choose. If they “like” the library’s page, comment on it, or suggest it to friends, these activities will show up in their news feed and home pages for others to see. This way, they chose to participate, and word can get out to their friends that they are involved in the library. No privacy is violated and patrons can maintain their confidence in the library. This is also a great word of mouth advertising, which is often more effective than targeted ads anyway, because users can see that their friends endorse the library.
No matter what social media platform librarians use to market their services, demonstrating and maintaining patrons’ trust is key. It’s better to not advertise to a patron at all than to violate their trust in order to reach them.
So what do you think? Do you feel confident that your library records are private? Would you feel concerned if you knew your library was accessing your private data via social networking websites (like Facebook) in order to advertise to you? What other strategies can libraries use to instill trust in their patrons while still getting the word out about the library? In your opinion, which is worse: violating trust in order to advertise or not advertising at all?