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Using Students to Manage the Social Streams; or How to Use Social Media to Engage Students; or What We’re Trying Next w/ SoMe

May 10, 2011, 9:23 am

Ah yes, social media. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on this topic—a favorite one of regular readers. So what’s new? Well, I’m trying a different approach this upcoming fiscal year. The story goes like this…

A few librarians and myself oversee our social media presence, but honestly, it has not been a priority and minimal effort at best. The main reason is that there are simply too many other things going on—but a secondary reason might be our questions on impact and return on investment (in terms of effort.)

I decided to punt the rest of this year and to start fresh in the summer. Meanwhile, I noticed that the UCSB Recreational Center is very active, particularly with Facebook. They were extremely organized and consistently pushing out a variety of content. I dug into it and found that they hired a student to manage their social media–  a digital outreach coordinator.

The short version of the story is that I met with the student and offered her a small stipend to draft her thoughts on using social media to engage students and to make some recommendations for the library. Here is her document: HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO ENGAGE STUDENTS (Kelsey Gagliardi)

She offers some practical “how to” advice from her experience, along with some candid remarks from the student point of view. She emphasizes updating frequently, favors fan pages over groups, says we should own our “place,” and urges interaction with freshmen to build your audience. I especially like how she breaks down the workflow/timeline leading up to an event.

I consider this a new starting point for rethinking our approach, but next up is the actual application. My new approach is to pay one of our senior Circulation Students (art and advertising major) to manage our streams. The core concept is having a student engage other students about the library. Ideally 80% of our social media effort will flow through her, with the rest being administrated by librarians and library staff.

We have many unusual things happening later this year—launching a new website, beginning construction on a major renovation and addition, so there is a lot of content to push out. But I also want to develop regular occurring features—like candid photos of people in the library, a weekly (?) book giveaway to “fans,” library tips, 2 minute videos highlighting various special collections, mini reviews of DVDS and eBooks, etc. Our Housing and Residential Life office has a weekly schedule of content type that I want to build upon. Monday is X, Tuesday is Y, Thursday is Z, etc. Reoccurring themes! I’m thinking things like: scholarship, productivity, culture, leisure, social, community service, etc.

Additionally I want to promote other efforts on campus. The Career Center and all their workshops, the various free talks and performances, tutoring and writing assistance, etc. Tapping into the lifecycle of the student and pushing appropriate content to them,regardless if it is library-orientated or not. I want the Library to be in-the-know on campus affairs.

I’m going to start my student this summer working 3-4 hours per week (on top of her hours at Circ) with the initial objective of interacting with incoming freshmen and flushing out a blueprint/strategy for what we want to accomplish through out social media. A process and brand strategy document.

Ahhh, it’s refreshing to get back into this topic. I’d love to see what others have developed in terms of a scalable and strategic social media plans for academic libraries. I had forgotten how much fun this stuff is!

A big thanks to Kelsey Gagliardi for her work on this project.

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