Facebook and Libraries: Connecting with Social Marketing
Why use Facebook?
Facebook is unarguably the largest social networking site on the web right now. The user base of this site is enormous, with 158 million users in the U.S. alone as of May 2012 (socialbakers.com, 2012). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current population projection for the United States is 313 million (2012), meaning that 50% of the population is on Facebook! That is a huge market for any library or library organization to tap into, and far too large for any to ignore, not to mention it’s free. But the question is how to make the best use of Facebook as a social networking tool.
How to use Facebook?
Facebook is used by primarily by libraries as a marketing tool (Jacobson, 2011). It is a great place to connect organizations, institutions, and users. The way to do this is to create a Facebook Page for the library or organization. This creates an official and authentic presence on the web in order to reach out to users. The Facebook Page format is called a Timeline, as it displays activity on the page in a timeline format with the most recent posts and link towards the top of the page, and easy access to other posts by date. All Facebook Pages have a “Cover” which is a large space for an image, which should be carefully used to make a good first impression for the Page.
Some Facebook Page Basics
There are many features of a Facebook page that make it a valuable tool for social marketing. Libraries can provide valuable information to users such as hours and locations with the integration of Google Maps. Organizations can use their Facebook Page to share links to resources and articles that would be of interest to their subscribers. Linking to other websites, whether a library or organization’s own site or other sites of interest is a great way to hold users attention and maintain a presence on their personal Facebook feeds.
Facebook is also a great way to share images and videos with users. Posting pictures of a library to Facebook is a way to advertise the facilities and amenities offered there. This will help users get an idea of various ways to make use of their libraries, as many only see it as a place to get books.
Creating Events on Facebook and using a Facebook Page to advertise exhibits and events at a library or hosted by an organization. Making posts on a Facebook Page is another way to reach out and start discussions with users. Using mobile technology, users can “check in” at events or locations which will be displayed on the Page.
Facebook’s Like button is another great tool of the site. When a user “Likes” a page, it appears on their Facebook New Feed, as well as their friends feeds. A single “Like” can easily reach the eyes of another 30 people, which turns the individual user into a marketing tool for the organization. The comment system also allows discussion beyond simple “Likes”. Facebook’s Timeline format personalizes a Facebook Page for each individual user to show any friends’ comments and visits on the page.
Facebook further offers integration with many other social networking sites mentioned on this blog, such as Twitter or Pinterest. There are many other uses of Facebook, such as connecting with other organizations and causes that make it even more valuable as a social networking and marketing tool.
Here and some great examples of effective Facebook Pages made by libraries and other library related organizations:
Detroit Public Library: http://www.facebook.com/detroitpubliclibrary
New York Public Library: http://www.facebook.com/newyorkpubliclibrary
The Library of Congress: http://www.facebook.com/libraryofcongress
American Library Association: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanLibraryAssociation
Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science: http://www.facebook.com/sliswsu
While Facebook for libraries and organizations is a great social networking tool, like other forms of social networking it has some drawbacks. Having a Facebook presence requires a consistent stream of updates to stay relevant to its users. This means having a dedicated team for the maintenance of a Page. This also means having dedicated moderators, as with any open platform, to make sure no inappropriate comments are posted. For some types of libraries, such as school or academic libraries, the primary user base of students may be reluctant to connect with their library on Facebook (Sekyere, 2009). Another minor drawback of Facebook is that it requires users to reach out and subscribe to Facebook Pages through the use of the Like button. However, Facebook makes it easy to integrate the Like button into any website or blog.
However despite these drawbacks, the ability to use a free platform with such a large user base is invaluable.
References and Sources
Jacobson, T. B., Facebook as a Library Tool: Perceived vs. Actual Use. College and Research Libraries, 72. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/72/1/79.full.pdf+html
Sekyere, K. Too much Hullabaloo about Facebook in Libraries! Is it really helping libraries?. Nebraska Library Association Quarterly, 40. 25-27.
SocialBakers. United States Facebook Statistics. Retrieved 6/23/12 from http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/united-states
United States Census Bureau. U.S. PopClock Projection. Retrieved 6/23/12 from http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html