What can you do with social media?
Social media makes it easy to create, join and take part in virtual communities and networks. Members of social media sites generate the site's content themselves. You can use social media to connect with students and your school community using the same platforms they use. For many parents and whānau, social media apps such as Facebook or Instagram are their most familiar platforms for connecting with others online.
Here are some ways you can use social media to enhance and extend your library's services:
- curate and share information to support inquiry and research
- engage with your community to promote the enjoyment of reading
- develop your own learning networks and help others in your community do the same
- share stories and images that celebrate what's happening in your library
- increase awareness of your library services and create new opportunities for advocacy
- enhance literacy initiatives and build home-school partnerships.
Using social media to connect with your community — TKI guide for schools planning, getting started, and using social media.
Using social media to support school library services — SCIS Connections, Issue 98.
Platforms for different purposes
Different social media platforms offer options for connecting with your community. It can be difficult to decide which one to begin with. Some platforms are better suited than others to creating and sharing different types of content. Think about your purpose for using social media to help you decide which platform to use.
Connect with members of your community on a personal level. Using a platform such as Facebook, you can create a stream of content on your network profile. This might include your own news updates, events, photos, and polls, as well as shared content from other sites. You could use instant messaging apps (for example, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp) to provide online reference help and support for your users.
These sites make it easy for users to create, edit, and share media such as photos and video. Posts on these sites begin with the media and let you add more information, such as captions, later. You can embed content from media sharing sites such as YouTube or Instagram into your virtual school library website.
These sites are predominantly used for text publishing. Blogging platforms such as Wordpress or Blogger provide for longer posts. Microblogging platforms such as Twitter are good for sharing small pieces of content. Users might share images this way, or links to longer posts or interesting articles online. Some of these platforms include features such as direct messaging between users.
Curating digital content
These sites allow you to put together collections of quality information from around the internet. You can give context and add value to content you've curated. Include your comments, questions or reflections and allow ways for your followers to do the same. You can embed content from sites such as Wakelet into other platforms, for example, your school's learning management system.
Social media makes it easy for people who have similar interests to find each other.
Hashtags (#) are used to bring people together around a conversation or community. Search platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for hashtags relevant to reading, school libraries, or education generally then join in by including the hashtag when you post on social media.
#SchoolLibrariesTransform — SLANZA encourages school library staff to use this hashtag to illustrate and advocate for the role of school libraries and school librarians.
#StayHomeAndRead — a popular hashtag on Instagram where users share photos of what they're reading at home.
You could use networks to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for reading.
For example, Goodreads is a site where readers can find book recommendations, see what others are reading and keep track of their own reading.
The best 100 education hashtags for all educators on Twitter — Wabisabi Learning. Search for these hashtags on other platforms (like Facebook) too.
LinkedIn and Facebook have numerous groups school library staff can join. The value of belonging to these social media groups or communities lies not just in sharing your knowledge but also expanding your knowledge and developing professionally through those connections.
Strategy for social media use
Developing a strategy helps you define the goals you have for using social media. Within your strategy, decide what tactics you'll use with each platform to achieve your goals.
Your strategy document should include:
- your library goals
- your social media goals designed to support the overarching library goals
- the audiences you're trying to reach through social media
- objectives for each platform you're using, the type of content you'll share and how you'll know if it's been successful
- specific tactics for each platform, such as:
- post reading-related links on Facebook x number of times per week
- share information about new library items every week
- respond to comments and questions within 1 day.
Social media optimization: Five principles to guide your online activities — American Libraries Magazine.
How to create a social media marketing strategy in 8 easy steps — Hootsuite.
Ideas for social media posts
You'll want to keep up with regular posts so that your followers don't lose interest. But make sure that what you're sharing is relevant and informative to your followers. You don't want to overwhelm them with too much information or too many posts.
Finding new ideas for posts can be hard to sustain, so here are some suggestions for things you could share. Many of these are quick and easy to do. Responsibility for posting could involve members of your library team, including student librarians.
The big list of no-fluff social media post ideas for schools — Cursive.
20 social media ideas to keep your brand's feed fresh — Sprout Social.
Guidelines for social media use
You may want to create guidelines for those who will be using social media on behalf of your school library. This is especially important for volunteer members of your library team and those new to using social media.
Guidelines should clarify:
- who can do what, on which platforms
- issues of privacy and security — your own and your students'
- what is appropriate content
- permissions for sharing content such as students' work or material covered by copyright
- how your library's social media use complies with school-wide policies.
6 ways to avoid those social media landmines — Daring Librarian.
Why do you need a social media policy? — Happy Days Librarian.
Examples of school libraries using social media
Have a look at these examples for inspiration and ideas about how your school library might integrate and use social media:
Find out more
Enabling e-Learning community — TKI — defines types of social media tools, with videos on how New Zealand students are using these tools.
Get connected starter kete — subscribe to the mailing list to receive an excellent resource that covers the main categories of social media tools.
Kathy Schrock — provides an in-depth overview of Twitter for educators.
Social media for school libraries — a curated list of links divided into sections for ease of access.
Teachers and Instagram: A risky mix? — an article from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (NZ) with advice about the appropriate sharing of images and video online.
'It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens' by Danah Boyd, Yale University Press (2014) — a great read for secondary school librarians wanting to learn more about teen social media use.