Using social media to market the library

How can libraries make the most of social media tools to engage with existing - and new - audiences?

As formal marketing budgets decrease (or perhaps even disappear) libraries and information professionals must look to alternative ways to market their services and reach new audiences.  Fortunately, the increasing popularity of social networking tools and sites opens up new possibilities for librarians and information professionals to engage with users and to market services to new audiences.

Speaking at Internet Librarian International, Karen Wallace of Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information told how she and her colleagues use a range of social media tools to inform, educate engage users.  They use a range of tools to raise the profile of their services, including flickr; Twitter, Facebook and blogs.   Sheffield Libraries Twitter feed on 13th October 2010 for example announced the winner of the Booker Prize, and published a link to enable library users to reserve a copy of the book.

Karen acknowledges there were problems along the way, and some still to be addressed.  In some organisations you may encounter barriers where rules and regulations or concerns about reputation may be the enemy of agility.  Her suggestion is to ‘do it first and seek permission after!'  If you do it well, audience engagement will be the strongest argument in favour of your initiatives.