Emerging Technology Planning: Facebook 2.0

Introduction

I was inspired by the Invercargill City Libraries and Archives to think about how my own library might improve its Facebook presence. Invercargill’s presentation on their use of Facebook at the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018 (Eng & Mager, 2018) shows what libraries should aspire to. They have set the bar very high, but there’s no reason that any library can’t try to do more on Facebook, knowing that they might never achieve the heights of Invercargill.

I realize that libraries on Facebook is old news. Everett Rogers (As cited in Mathews, 2012) wrote way back in 2003 that if your library is planning a Facebook page it is lagging behind in the world of library innovation. However, having a Facebook page is one thing, and having a Facebook page that actually engages users is another thing entirely. To me, libraries using social media platforms to their full extent seems to still be an emerging technology, even in 2020. My plan is to use Casey and Savastinuk’s (2007) Library 2.0 model and the example set by Invercargill City Libraries and Archives (Eng & Mager, 2018) to improve Sonoma County Library’s Facebook page. 

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service

Many libraries seem to fall into the habit of using Facebook to advertise upcoming events, and nothing more (Casey, 2011). I do not mean to criticize Sonoma County Library’s Facebook page, or the team responsible for it. Sonoma County Library has a good Facebook page (Sonoma County Library, n.d.), but it could be better. When it comes down to it, any library that is not Invercargill could have a better Facebook page. Sonoma County Library has a page for the library system, as well as pages for each of the individual branches. To their credit, the library does more than just advertise upcoming events. Here is a delightful video they posted when children’s events were cancelled due to Covid-19:

Events may be cancelled but here is a little song from us!Check back on our Facebook page during cancelled storytime hours for a special video from Miss Jessica and Miss Kim.

Posted by Central Santa Rosa Library on Friday, March 13, 2020

Change in the realm of social media might be even more frightening to administration than change in the physical library. Mistakes in cyberspace often cannot be erased, and have the potential to be seen by many, many people. The thought of a gaffe going viral is terrifying. For this reason, the library’s social media policies might be even more restrictive than their policies governing their IRL services and programs. Why risk doing anything bold when what they have been doing is perfectly adequate? Casey and Savastinuk’s (2007) answer is that libraries must change constantly to meet the needs of their users, and Facebook is no different. In fact, change and innovation are even more important online, where the user has so many options. The principles of Library 2.0. should be applied to Facebook: Constant change, a culture of innovation, vertical teams, empowering staff, brainstorming, encouraging user participation, flexibility, and regular evaluation (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). The goal is to increase user engagement with the library’s Facebook page, which will in turn increase the reach of the library and promote the library and its services.

Description of Community you wish to engage

I would like to engage the online portion of the community served by the library, specifically the online portion of the community that engages with Facebook. I would also like to engage the members of the community that do not use the library. Fons (2016) points out that making libraries visible on the web may help them reach people who never even think about the library (Fons is not writing about Facebook, but it is still true for our case). This is another way of talking about libraries reaching the “long tail,” as discussed by Casey and Savastinuk (2007). I also wish to engage the staff of the Sonoma County Library, so that they are more involved.

Action Brief Statement

Convince library administration and staff that by improving the library’s Facebook  presence the library will engage more users, which will increase the reach of the library, because the more exposure the library gets online the more aware people will be of the library and its services.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service

Why Facebook?

Davis, H. (2011). Reconsidering Facebook. In The Library With The Lead Pipe. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2011/reconsidering-facebook/

Duggan, M. (2015). Mobile messaging and social media 2015. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/08/19/mobile-messaging-and-social-media-2015/

Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016). Social media update 2016. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

Guidelines for Libraries Using Facebook (and Other Social Media)

American Library Association. (2018). Social media guidelines for public and academic libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/socialmediaguidelines

Donna. (2015, September 25).  This is how we do it: Social media at Christchurch City Libraries [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://cclbibliofile.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/this-is-how-we-do-it-social-media-at-christchurch-city-libraries/

Dowd, N. (2013). Social media: Libraries are posting, but is anyone listening? Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=social-media-libraries-are-posting-but-is-anyone-listening

Edelstein, M. (2010). How to: Evaluate your social media plan. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2010/06/25/evaluate-social-media-plan/

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (n.d.). Social media guidelines. Retrieved from http://origin.ifla.org/social-media-guidelines

Examples of Libraries Using Facebook (and Other Forms of Social Media)

Casden, J. (2013, April 29). My #HuntLibrary: Using Instagram to crowdsource the story of a new library [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://acrl.ala.org/techconnect/post/my-huntlibrary-using-instagram-to-crowdsource-the-story-of-a-new-library/

Dandowski, T. (2013). How libraries are using social media. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2013/07/16/how-libraries-are-using-social-media/

Eng, A., & Mager, B. (2018, July). Keeping up with the librarians: Staying relevant in the age of social media [Powerpoint slides]. Presented at the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference, Broadbeach, Queensland. Retrieved from https://aplic.alia.org.au/content/keeping-librarians-staying-relevant-age-social-media

White, A. (2014). Here’s the story behind Orkney Library’s hilarious twitter account. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/real-talk-who-doesnt-dress-as-whitesnake-once-a-week#.uw8lgWGAZ1

Williams, S. (2014, April 16). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/

A Scholarly Study of Facebook Use in Libraries

Tak, E., Cheuk, H., Dickson, H., & Chiu, K.W. (2019). Analyzing the use of Facebook among university libraries in Hong Kong. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 45(3), 175-183. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2019.02.007

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service

Library administration will determine what is appropriate for the library’s Facebook page. The ALA (2018) and IFLA (n.d.) guidelines for social media use should be consulted. Invercargill’s (Eng & Mager, 2018) success story is an important guide, as are other libraries’ creative uses of Facebook and other forms of social media. However, it is important that the policies not be too strict. The Facebook team must be granted a certain amount of freedom, or they will not be able to make significant changes. We must strike a delicate balance between policies that protect the library’s image and policies that allow teams enough to engage users as much as possible. Trust in staff will be important.

Facebook is an opportunity to engage with a large number of users, one which many libraries do not take advantage of. Casey (2011) writes that using Facebook for one-way communication does not cut it in the age of participatory services. The ALA lists different levels of community engagement through social media, the lowest level being “The library posts information related to its services and operations for its constituents and does not seek out or respond to comments” (American Library Association, Purpose and Scope section, para. 3). The highest level of engagement is “The library serves as a forum for the discussion of many issues related to its collections, programs, and spaces” (American Library Association, Purpose and Scope section, para. 7). This should be the goal of the library. Obviously not every comment can be responded to, but not engaging with at least some of the comments is a waste (Edelstein, 2010).

Invercargill (Eng & Mager, 2018) and the Orkney Library (White, 2014) are both examples of how powerful humor is as a way to attract interest to the library online. This should not be underestimated. Targeting Facebook users means using humor. Stifling humor with policies will defeat the purpose of the project. The ALA writes that it is common practice for a library social media account to reflect the library and not the librarian (American Library Association, 2018), but if the librarian does not put any personality into their posts the library will have no personality online. A certain level of innovation, humor, and personality is needed to attract the attention of users who have so many other things they could be doing online besides looking at the library’s Facebook page. 

Two important principles of Library 2.0 are constant change and user input (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). The library Facebook page should be trying new things constantly, and user input, in the form of pageviews and clicks (or a lack of pageviews or clicks), will follow. Maintaining momentum is important! Invercargill  writes that consistent, everyday content (that reflects your library’s voice) is important to ensure user engagement (Eng & Mager, 2018).

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service

One of the advantages of Facebook is that it requires no funding to use. Making videos is an important aspect of engaging users via Facebook (Eng & Mager, 2018), but fortunately Sonoma County Library already has equipment to make high-quality videos (cameras and sound equipment). In the future, if the initiative is deemed a success, modest amounts of money could be spent on props, costumes,  or other “extras” to improve videos, but that should not be necessary at the preliminary stages.

Action Steps & Timeline

The library director will need to approve this project. The amount of effort put into the initiative can be scaled to fit the level of interest. In this sense, the service can be prototyped; things can start off slow. If we shamelessly copy Invercargill, then we could start with a team of two people, focusing on making Facebook posts more engaging in small ways, such as less text and more pictures (Eng & Mager, 2018). If we decide to ramp the initiative up, then more people can be added to the team, and more leeway can be given for them to get serious about attracting attention (making videos for example). It takes time to build up a social media following, so if the project is ultimately successful it will have a timeline of up to five years. The initial test run would most likely be 6 months to a year. 

Administration Consideration and Approval: 6-8 weeks 

Finding a team: 2 weeks 

Initial phase of improved posts: 6 months to 1 year.

Evaluation by administration: at this point there should be a modest increase in “likes” and other forms of engagement (but expectations should not be too high).

2nd phase (if approved): more staff, more effort: 1 year.

Repeat.

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service

Sonoma County Library currently has a Marketing, Web, and Social Media team, whose role is developing and implementing marketing and community outreach. The team consists of eight members, all of whom are part of library administration. A dedicated Facebook team would be better, as would a more vertical team (Casey and Savastinuk, 2007). Staff does not need to be a part of the Facebook team in order to be involved (in the form of appearing in videos, pictures, ideas, etc.).

This revamping of the library’s Facebook service will most definitely require staff hours. However, if a team is created specifically for Facebook, the Marketing, Web, and Social Media team will have some hours freed up. Essentially, staff hours from the team that exists now would be reallocated to a team that will focus on Facebook.

Teen volunteers could be utilized, as students were used to help promote Hunt Library through Instagram  (Casden, 2013). Having them help brainstorm ideas would be a form of input from the community, as well as work hours that wouldn’t have to come from the staff. Presumably teen volunteers would be familiar with the ins and outs of Facebook.

Training for this Technology or Service

Donna (2015) writes that the training for blog writers in Christchurch City Libraries is brief, and focuses on the tools. They do not expect their bloggers to conform to a particular voice, and they trust them to represent the library. In our case, the initial Facebook team (whatever size that is) will essentially be expected to train themselves. They will familiarize themselves with the policies approved by the administration, explore Facebook Page Insights (for analytics), and learn as they go. Training for future members of the team will be designed by the initial Facebook team. Eventually the Facebook team will have to be trained on how to use the video equipment (assuming no one on the team is already familiar), which can be done in about two hours.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service

As Facebook is a powerful promotional tool, promotion will more or less take care of itself. The quality of the posts must be able to attract attention on their own. Ideally, the library should be active on multiple forms of social media, and cross-promotion is always helpful. Edelstein (2010) writes that being on multiple major social media platforms allows users to choose how to interact with your company. This is true, but Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform (Greenwood, Perrin, & Duggan, 2016). Invercargill found that for them, focusing on Facebook worked best (Eng & Mager, 2018). Focusing on Facebook is a good start, and the library’s Facebook posts should be able to take care of themselves.

Promotional methods outside of social media may be self-defeating. Transparency is important, but putting a sign in the library that you are trying to improve your Facebook presence is a little sad. After a certain point it should be self-evident, or something needs to change.

Promoting within the organization is another matter. Staff should not be expected to check the library’s Facebook page regularly. Periodic emails alerting staff to noteworthy Facebook posts would help keep staff abreast of what is happening.

 Evaluation

Casey and Savastinuk (2007) write that “the dreaded Plan, Implement, and Forget” can be a problem for libraries (p. 59). I think this is especially true for Facebook and other forms of social media, which I think many libraries see as something secondary to the real work of the library. They put in some effort, and however much that is, that is good enough. A library’s efforts on Facebook should be treated like any other program or service; regularly evaluated and updated (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007). The Invercargill team wrote “We feel that our continued success is down to our rapid cycle of iteration: getting out and giving things ago, getting feedback and data, and using this to reflect back and inform our behaviours going forward” (Eng & Mager, 2018, slide 26).

Facebook provides an analytics tool called Facebook Page Insights. This tool tracks not just likes and comments, but also data such as actions on page, page views, recommendations (the number of people who recommended your page), and post reach (the number of people who saw your post in their timeline) (Newberry, 2020). “Post engagement” combines a number of different engagement types into one metric. These metrics should be used to evaluate posts and to plan future posts. 

Donna (2015) writes that Christchurch City Libaries uses Hootsuite because “it allows us to publish to both Twitter and Facebook, shortens the links nicely, and lets you schedule posts. It also helps you manage statistics and analysis” (What’s under the bonnet section, para. 1). This is an option if Facebook’s tools are found inadequate.

References 

American Library Association. (2018). Social media guidelines for public and academic libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/socialmediaguidelines

Casden, J. (2013, April 29). My #HuntLibrary: Using Instagram to crowdsource the story of a new library [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://acrl.ala.org/techconnect/post/my-huntlibrary-using-instagram-to-crowdsource-the-story-of-a-new-library/

Casey, M. (2011). Revisiting participatory service in trying times – a TTW guest post by Michael Casey [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service [PDF file]. Medford, N.J: Information Today. Retrieved from https://287.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Library2.0Text.pdf

Donna. (2015, September 25).  This is how we do it: Social media at Christchurch City Libraries [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://cclbibliofile.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/this-is-how-we-do-it-social-media-at-christchurch-city-libraries/

Edelstein, M. (2010). How to: Evaluate your social media plan. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2010/06/25/evaluate-social-media-plan/

Eng, A., & Mager, B. (2018, July). Keeping up with the librarians: Staying relevant in the age of social media [Powerpoint slides]. Presented at the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference, Broadbeach, Queensland. Retrieved from https://aplic.alia.org.au/content/keeping-librarians-staying-relevant-age-social-media

Fons, T. (2016). Making libraries visible on the web: The digital shift. Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=making-libraries-visible-on-the-web-the-digital-shift

Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016). Social media update 2016. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (n.d.). Social media guidelines. Retrieved from http://origin.ifla.org/social-media-guidelines

Mathews, B. (2012). Think like a startup: A white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Newberry, C. (2020, January 20). The beginner’s guide to Facebook analytics [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-analytics-insights-beginners-guide/

Sonoma County Library. (n.d.). Sonoma County Library [Facebook page]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/sonomalibrary/

White, A. (2014). Here’s the story behind Orkney Library’s hilarious twitter account. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/real-talk-who-doesnt-dress-as-whitesnake-once-a-week#.uw8lgWGAZ1

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