Twitter. Facebook. Xanga. Myspace. Yammer. Ning. WordPress. YouTube. Blogspot.
And that’s just to name a few.
Social media–media (information, really) that is created to be shared freely, and allows for conversation exchanges–is the future. It is the now. You can’t go very far during any given day without having come in contact with one form or another. The mass media is notorious for pulling quotes from Twitter feeds and getting information about a person straight from their Facebook account. It’s proved to be among the most efficient ways to disseminate information right now and to get the attention of a specific demographic, like college students, for example. It’s how I stay in continued contact with my immediate family; we’re constantly updating pictures, and letting each other know of our comings and goings. I’ve even found some of my favorite visual artists and authors, and am kept better updated on their activities and events.
Laupus has this blog, a Facebook and Twitter account, and even a channel on YouTube. We’re even connected on AIM. (Though, that one may or may not be considered social media.) The connection factor is the major reason (if not the only one) why having an active footing in the social network scene is integral to varying perspectives of success. It’s ever important for an institution as large and as unheard as a library tends to be to keep up with trends.
Consider these questions as they pertain to the Library’s stake in the social media craze:
- Is oversight for social media accounts and activity assigned to a single librarian?
- Should the same staff member who oversees marketing and public relations take on social networking, as well?
- Are all library workers empowered to contribute to the effort?
The most important question, I think, posed by the ACRL is this one: Does librarianship need to provide more opportunity for LIS students to gain these [social media] skills, and if so how should it happen? As in, should LIS programs devote entire classes to social media usage, methodology? I venture to say, yes they should.
The Library doesn’t have a choice, really. It’s a matter of staying connected and staying relevant. Your patrons want to see you on Facebook and Twitter? Get on Facebook and Twitter. Really, it’s just that simple. As a marketing and promotional tool, social media cannot and should not be pushed to the wayside. It’s not enough anymore to notify people of changes and updates via email or a poster or flyer. You’ve got to go where they are. You’ve got to know how to manipulate social media outlets. How can you better influence a library user and what wordage or images might help in doing so. This, I think, would be a beneficial course or the LIS student. If a social media librarian isn’t in your immediate future, you might want to consider rethinking your five-year plan.
As a graduate student, I like the idea of knowing that my primary library makes updates about hours, resources, et cetera via these venues, because I am on them so heavily. (I’ve even got apps on my Blackberry.) As a lover and proponent of the Library, I can rest a little easier in the idea of knowing that it’s not getting dusty and rusty and reeking of moth balls. It’s maintaining a sense of modernity.
The best way to reach today’s student and user is viral marketing. I say, get with it or get left behind!
Also, check this out! Is There A Social Media Librarian In Your Library’s Future?