How libraries are applying social media

Social media is becoming increasingly popular among librarians, with a majority who feel that it is an important communication tool. Use our top tips to learn about the use of social media in library services, from strategic planning to best practice. Read through our ideas for how you can start utilizing social media today.

13 Social media marketing tips for libraries

1. Improve usage

Social media platforms are useful for promoting books and collections to your patrons. Improve usage by making users more aware of what is on offer.

2. Measure impact

You can use Google Analytics or Facebook statistics to measure the impact of your social media activities. See what works well and gets the most engagement. You can then look to do more of this in your planned activities.  

3. Choose the right platform

Identify your target audience and conduct research to see which channels they spend their time on. You can research online to see which channels are most used by different demographics. For example, over half of Instagram users are under 34.

4. Market research

Use your channels to obtain information on what collections are popular or unpopular with users, or any other area where you could benefit from gaining some insight.

5. Follow a policy

Adopt a social media policy to ensure ethical use by all staff across accounts. See this library social media policy example.

6. Management platform

Make your job easier with a social media management platform. A number of social media management platforms are available that are free and easy to use, with Hootsuite being the most popular with librarians, followed by Tweetdeck and Feedly.

7. Plan ahead

Plan your content with a social media calendar, it will save you time in the long run and help to ensure your content is varied. It may work well to have various activities planned around the academic year. For example, around exam season you could share relevant resources you have to help students. 

8. Be interactive

As well as posting your own content, interact with the content of other users. Have conversations and see what else is out there. Be present in the online community.

9. Customer service

Students tend to be very active on social media, and librarians have embraced popular platforms as a way of communicating with users to provide customer service, as well as networking with other libraries for this purpose.

10. Teaching & learning

Websites such as YouTube are great for gathering new information, to educate yourself as well as educating users. Libraries services can use social media platforms to post insights into specific materials and collections, to educate as well as promote what is available.

11. Outreach

Sharing pictures and other content is a good way of letting users know what the library is up to. This can be for specific events, new developments or simply for the purpose of showing users what it can be used for.

12. Social media strategy

Develop a library social media strategy to follow. This will help to keep your channels focused on activities that fit with your aims. If you want to get more users through the door, then your posts should aim to increase awareness of the library and to get engagement from users.

13. Training

If various members of library staff will be posting on the social media accounts, make sure to offer training in best practice. Make sure all staff are following the same calendar and strategy.

Tips developed from our research on ‘Use of social media by the library’. This provides a global overview of library social media use, against which individual institutions can benchmark their own, and be inspired to try new approaches. Download your copy today. 

Library social media ideas

applying social media infographic

Promote your content: Use social media images available through our Promote Your Content tool to increase awareness of the Taylor & Francis products you offer.

Live chats: Indian libraries have implemented an ‘ask the librarian’ initiative where students can live chat with a librarian who can answer their query. Librarians are networked between multiple libraries to all be available to answer student queries.

Use imagery: several US libraries described using pictures online as a way to entice users to the physical library. “Being able to show what we’re doing, whether it’s adding more this summer, more outlets, or bringing in more chairs and taking pictures, and showing that we have these spaces… that’s gotten a really good response.”

Instagram: use Instagram to post pictures relating to collections. For example, a US university posted a picture of an old phrenology map related to their collection on the history of psychiatry. 

Audience polling: use audience polls to elicit responses from multiple students rather than just hearing from one individual in a physical class environment. 

Goodreads: Using Goodreads to highlight new books, inviting reviews from the user group and using that feedback for collection development. “It’s a useful platform for hearing from faculty and students about books they love which we don’t yet have and should order, that weren’t even on my radar.”

Ideas taken from our research on ‘Use of social media by the library’. This provides a global overview of library social media use, against which individual institutions can benchmark their own, and be inspired to try new approaches. Download your copy today. 

What next?

Browse our journal subject collections