Social Media Information Blast

Sharon Streams /

More than 400 people attended the July 17 WebJunction webinar on Social Media Use by Libraries, presented by Dr. Roberto Gallardo of Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Before the session had even started, attendees were already posting links to their library’s social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, FourSquare, Pinterest, and so on, to welcome participants coming into the web conferencing room. Throughout the session, the Chat window was peppered with questions, comments, and suggestions. This was a very interactive group!

Dr. Gallardo explained that library staff who use social media find they can communicate with patrons in new and surprising ways. The remainder of the session focused on what Dr. Gallardo called the "Big Three" -- Facebook, Twitter (his personal favorite), and Pinterest. He summarized the positives and negatives of each of the three; noting, for example, the lack of control over the Facebook interface and settings, the need to constantly feed Twitter to stay visible and relevant, and the image copyright concerns for Pinterest.

Attendees got a quick but thorough overview of each web tool, such as an explanation of the difference between a Facebook profile, page, and group; and how to use Facebook’s account management tools. (He noted that Facebook’s interface changes so quickly, that even the slides he is showing could already be out of date, even though he created the screenshots last week!) These overviews were presented at a fast pace, so I am glad that I can look at his slides or review the recording later.

Did you know that the peak use time for Facebook is 3 pm on Wednesday?

Did you know about the recently add "merge pages" function on Facebook, which allows you to merge similar pages that are under your organizational control? (Search for "Merge Pages" on Facebook Help to find out the details). There is also a profanity control option, which I didn’t know about.

Did you know that posted pictures are what attract the most comments? Dr. Gallardo cautioned that it is important to get permission to post pictures from their subject. Attendees provided further advice in Chat about how libraries can do that.

Are you making use of Facebook Insights to understand how people are interacting with your page?

For Twitter, he showed actual examples of how MS State University Library interacts with the twittersphere to demonstrate the tools and the little courtesies that have developed and have helped this community grow. Chat participants helped flesh out what exactly Twitter hashtags are used for, in response to one attendee's question: "I'm Twitter illiterate. What's the deal with hashtags? What's their significance? How do you use them appropriately?"

The general feeling about Pinterest among the attendees seems to be that it is fun (but apparently female-centric). I saw a lot of exclamation points in chat when Dr. Gallardo started discussing this tool. But one attendee admitted that their library's effort to pin photos of new books as they arrive at the library has "mushroomed into a beast."

For those who love lists and practical advice (like me), Dr. Gallardo provided a nice set of them during and near the end of the session. In addition to lists of best practices for each tool, he provided a list of 10 guidelines for social media administration overall. (For example, he stressed that we should post content that is of interest to our followers, not just what is interesting to us.) He provided a list of audience-building tips too, and a list of suggestions for how to manage social media work.

To listen to the entire presentation and to access all of the resources that were mentioned by Dr. Gallardo, please visit the WebJunction webinar archive.