A couple of
weeks months ago our marketing coordinator and I discussed our social media strategy at our local social media club meeting. While I was brainstorming and thinking about what I could talk about, I was also listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for about the millionth time. That’s when I realized that like most things, our social media strategy can be easily summed up by the wisdom of Hamilton.
The social media team at my library has always been strong. I’ve been at the library for four years and we’ve been through three changes in leadership, and while our strategies have been refined, our style has been relatively consistent. We’re focused on our local community (and are not obsessed with looking cool to other libraries). We have a good mix of informative posts about our programs and services, general library enthusiasm, and posts that aren’t self-promotional.
find out what WERKS.
Our style is laid back, just like Lawrence. We’re not afraid to experiment, whether it’s with books and beer pairings for summer reading or having a Neil-quote battle with other local institutions and businesses. Sometimes we’ve pushed the envelope or failed. That’s okay. Trial and error is how we developed our voice. Be a mind at work and those
Schuyler sisters your patrons will love you.
coordination is key.
This is where changes in leadership have caused waves (but nothing like a fully armed battalion rippling through our social media waters or anything). It’s important to know who is responsible for what and get the right information to the person handling the Twitter account (or any social media account). This coordination is mostly “under cover” though, and not visible to the public. We speak with one voice and are unified in our goals.
be spontaneous and engage in real time.
So it’s good to plan, but especially for Twitter, you have to be present and willing to freestyle.
I schedule out event-related posts and “evergreen” content that is always relevant, like booklists or interesting articles that are not time sensitive, but I’m all about freestyling. Some of our most popular or engaging posts are off the cuff. My goal is to always respond to a question within an hour during the time the library is open – which means I get notifications on my phone and have sent off tweets while on vacation. That doesn’t work for everyone, and a better strategy would be to have a big enough team and assign time periods to everyone so the account is always monitored.
You want to have your own style, too, just like Jonathan Groff as King George. We’re quirky and fun. What does your community look like, specifically on Twitter? Look at the demographics of your followers. Find our what their interests are.
but know when to be serious.
This is why it’s important to engage in real time. If you have cute and funny scheduled tweets to go out during an emergency situation or when the conversation is dominated by news, you look completely tone deaf. Don’t do it.
talk less. (a picture is worth a 1000 words).
Images are key. No matter the platform—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest—quality images will catch the attention of patrons more than words alone. I create my own images or take photos to accompany almost every tweet, or if I’m sharing an article, I include its featured image. We’re also a big fan of gifs since Twitter started supporting them. Just be mindful of fair use.
Making images specifically tailored to Twitter is super-easy with Canva.
Another ‘talk less’ tip? It’s not all about YOU. Don’t just talk about the library, talk about what your community is interested in.
I see a LOT of libraries just sharing links or retweeting. I think some of that is great, but an over-reliance in content that can be found elsewhere gives your followers no reason to always check in on your Twitter feed specifically. Be original. Then people will be quoting YOU.
Be like LMM.
Lin Manuel once said in an interview early in his career he didn’t really get Twitter, but he rocks it now. My sentiment echoes his. It’s fun. But I haven’t perfected it. I’m constantly learning.
One reason LMM is successful? is constantly sharing inside, behind the scenes info and stories with his followers. These gifs are about a story he shared on Twitter about a woman yelling “congrats on Hamlet” to him while driving by the theater. He hashtagged it, and they sold shirts that people went crazy for because they got the joke.
What I love about Twitter is the unique audience and community you can cultivate. For example, my favorite publisher’s to follow on Twitter are Melville House and Harper Perennial, who are always snarking at one another. They’re having a good time, not just tweeting out book promo. While this level and style of humor might not work for you, it’s good to have inside jokes with your community. Your followers will like it. I’ve teamed up with a local art gallery to troll one of our favorite restaurants about their fries (in a respectful and humorous ways) and get this – even joke around with the guy who runs my city’s accounts. Share extra incentives and inside deals with your Twitter followers, like giving them a heads up when you order the new season of Game of Thrones so they can get at the top of the holds list.
what are your metrics?
Okay, but you can’t just have a fun free-for-all on Twitter and be successful. You have to have a defined goal and a way to measure it. Are you looking to expand your following? Get lots of interaction? Have people say, “I found out about this event because of Twitter.” Drive traffic to your website? Unite Republicans and Democrats over a shared love of your American history musical? Set goals and measure them to track your success and revise your strategy as needed.
a million things i haven’t done.
I’m leaving Lawrence next month, and handing over the Twitter reigns to other staff. On the plus side, I’m hoping to get to start new social media accounts from scratch at my new library as the programming and marketing librarian, so that’s exciting!
Before I go I’m creating a master document that outlines the type of content I do, my posting schedule, and the nitty-gritty about how I have managed our account. I’ll share that with you, too! This is just the philosophical, big picture stuff that has made our Twitter highly successful.
And remember, I don’t do this alone. There’s an amazing team of librarians and library workers at LPL that I’m going to be really sad to leave.