8 Tips and Tricks for Managing a Library’s Social Media Accounts [Part 2]

Hello, everyone! Last month I wrote about the first four tips and tricks for managing your library’s social media account which included 1.) know your audiences, 2.) know your platforms, 3.) pick your lanes, and 4.) check your analytics. Now I’m back with the final four handy hacks to make your library’s socials stand out.

5. Diversify your media

In order to make your accounts three-dimensional, you’ll want to vary the ways in which you post content. Like I mentioned in last month’s article, there are a ton of ways to post on each platform. You don’t have to use every way, but you shouldn’t confine yourself to one type either. Just as a reminder, here are several ways to post on the three major platforms:

  • Instagram: feed posts, stories, Reels (short videos), IGTV (long videos), IG Live
  • Twitter: text tweets, photo tweets, video tweets (RIP Fleets)
  • Facebook: text, photo, and video feed posts, live broadcasts, stories

6. Let your audience help you

Who better to tell you what your audience wants than your audience? Don’t be afraid of this option or think it’s cheap, people LOVE giving their opinions. Here’s the thing though, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to do it. I’ve found that asking for an action as simple as a swipe or click gets the most participation. Don’t worry, you can still ask for whole words or even sentences too. Here are some simple and effective ways to engage your audience:

Call for comments: This one is a classic. At the end of your post, ask your audience a question or prompt them to contribute to a conversation: “What books are you planning to read this summer?” “What one of these is your favorite?” “Feel free to leave additional tips in the comments!” 

Hashtags: Ask your audience to use a hashtag, which you can later search. That way, you can see what everyone who used the hashtag is saying about your topic, event, or whatever it was you were promoting. 

Polls: Each platform has a poll option, which is a super easy way for your audience to engage with you. It only involves a single click too, so people are more likely to participate. 

Image of a twitter poll. AIDS.gov asks "What will you do to create #HIV awareness for millennials?" The poll options were "Share HIV information" with 65%, "Ask folks to get tested" with 18%, "Tell my HIV story" with 8%, and "Not comfy talking about HIV" with 9%
Makes sense for AIDS.gov (now HIV.gov), an organization that promotes education and awareness, to ask its audience how it prefers to approach these topics.

Question box: This is a great way to get answers for your questions that have a lot of possibilities. Make sure that you tailor your questions so that they necessitate short responses only! Remember, it’s way easier for viewers to scroll away from your content than to devote anything more than a few seconds to answering. 

Instagram story with an outdoor school and sky background. There is a question box that asks "Any topics you want to see on trivia?"
I struggle every week to come up with trivia topics that I think students will like. Then I realized I can just ask them! Saved me about five weeks of trouble.

Sliding sticker: I’m seeing this a lot more and I think it’s such a creative way to get people to interact with your account. It lets you ask more nuanced questions when you want to know what your audience feels about something. You can also use them to get people to choose from a set of things.

Instagram story with a background of trees, a road, and the sky. There are animated stickers of a school bus and flowers. Text asks "How excited are you to start school again next week??" There is a sliding poll sticker with a heart for users to adjust.
Users can slide the heart emoji as much or little as they want. Instagram will also average out people’s responses so you can share final results later! This post was featured the law library’s Instagram story.
Instagram story with a pink and orange background with florescent white dots. Texts asks "What movie should the law library show for the next movie night??" There is a sliding sticker with an arrow that users use to point to the poster image of the movies "Legally Blonde," "The Pelican Brief," and "A Civil Action."
I absolutely love using the sliding sticker with choices, it’s so versatile and it’s fun for the audience. They picked “Legally Blonde,” by the way. This post was featured as a story on the law library’s Instagram.

7. Be timely

The 24-hour news cycle is no joke, but you can use it to your advantage. The only thing is you have to be quick. If you have the ability to post about a piece of news that is relevant to you and your audience on the same day that it occurs, you’ll get way more traction and attention than if you wait. 

For example, the law library recently has been following the #FreeBritney legal battle. When her new lawyer was announced, we realized the same day that he was an alumnus of our law school. We jumped on it immediately. With a little bit of research, we were able to make a post about it in thirty minutes. Throw in the hashtag #FreeBritney (which increased the post’s visibility by over 300%) and it became our most popular post by almost every single metric: likes, reach, shares, follows, and more. 

Instagram post with a picture of a clean-cut man in the foreground and a black and white picture of Britney Spears in the background. The Instagram caption reads "We promised to keep you all updated om Britney Spear's  conservatorship case, but the most up-to-date news actually involves BC Law!..."
Yeah, apparently what the people really want to see is the picture of a random lawyer. From the law library’s Instagram account, but the original photo is from AP Photo/Chris Pizzello.

8. Choose your favorite (if you have to)

Chances are that social media management is not your only duty if you work at a library. To be completely on top of all your platforms with daily posts would be a full-time job. Since the trick with social media is consistency, if you don’t have the bandwidth to do every platform, pick one and really give it the attention it deserves. Trust me, it’s better to do a stellar job on one platform than a lackluster job on three. Choose the one where your audience is most engaged and pour your energy into that. I promise you, you will see results. 

I hope that I’ve given you some broad-strokes lessons that are widely applicable across your social media channels. If you ever want to talk about nitty-gritty strategies and the finer details of posting, feel free to contact me! Also I’d love to hear about other people’s tips and tricks if they’ve got them. There’s always more to learn!

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Melissa Grasso lives in Boston and will begin at Simmons University in the fall. She works as a library assistant where she specializes in course reserves, copy cataloguing, and social media management. You can find her on Twitter @grassbro or LinkedIn.

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