Often in an attempt to remain relevant, libraries jump on the newest and latest social media technology and then find themselves unable to harness its utility. This happens for a variety of reasons. Social media is...well, social. It is about building relationships and making connections that forge new relationships.
Think about the verbiage on the Facebook: "friending," "what are you doing?" aka status updates, list your family, post your photos, are you married? These are all very personal tidbits of information. The interactions on the site are usually social between friends and colleagues. If the interactions are business related, organizations are offering readers something in exchange for "liking" their page: coupons, discounts, interesting articles, and the like.
Twitter is a great resource for the most up to date information. However, in order for libraries to use it effectively, tweets need to be posted daily. It is a rare occasion that users will scroll back and look at old tweets. With the volume of information on Twitter, the past really passes and fast.
So, how can libraries harness these two social media sites effectively without hiring someone to be on them constantly? One word: planning.
First, think about who is using the services and how. Then think about what you have to say that your audience would be interested in knowing. It is helpful to schedule when you will post so that users can anticipate receiving your posts and tweets. Be sure the information you post is something users want to read. If you do not, then the library runs the risk of being blocked or hidden. Neither is a good outcome.
Above all, remember that you have a library full of information at your disposal. Interesting holidays, author birthdays, historical facts about the local area are all good ideas for posts. Think about what would make someone think "wow! I had no idea!" Obviously, there are other uses such as program announcements and cancellations. But, your feeds should be about more than utilitarian information. Libraries are about promoting literacy, providing access to information, and serving the community. Let that be a start for the frame you will post within.
We are becoming a globalized community where what you post is not only seen by the local community, but by all users of social media. Choose wisely what you put online. Make it relevant, interesting, and unique to your library. Most of all -- have fun with it!