Streaming Your Library’s Blog and Twitter Posts
Some libraries have one or more blogs, which is a great way of self-promotion. Sometimes it can be difficult to drive traffic to your blog unless there are people who subscribe to it via RSS. Facebook can help with the ability to stream your library’s blogs directly to your Facebook Page. All posts on any blog you link to, will show up as a post directly on your Page’s wall, along with an associated picture, if one is in the original blog post. There are different applications on Facebook you can use to stream content from your blog to your Facebook Page. Networkedblogs is one that is reliable and easy to use. Simply register your blog through the application, and your blog posts will appear on your Wall. This is an excellent way to collaborate with other library staff who have Web 2.0 projects that they administer, as well as to help populate your Wall with interesting posts that will engage your library’s fans.
Your Library’s Twitter posts can also be streamed directly to your Facebook Page. In this way, your Facebook Page acts as a medium to merge all your library’s Web 2.0 activities into one interface that is commonly used by your patrons. To link your library’s Twitter stream, simply go to the Twitter Page on Facebook by searching for Twitter in the search box. On the Page is an option for installing the app. Follow the directions for installation and be sure to link the posts to your Facebook Page and not your personal profile. You will also have the option to share the news of your Facebook Page and Twitter connection on your personal profile, which is good for further exposure of your library’s Page. Once you have completed setting up, the next time a post is made by your Library’s Twitter profile, it will also appear on your library’s new Facebook Page.
Creating an RSS Feed to Your Facebook Page
Creating an RSS feed is a very powerful tool to populate your library’s Facebook Page with great information and little effort on your part. In my opinion, the best app currently on Facebook for creating RSS Feeds to your profile or your Page is through RSS Graffiti. Do a search in the search box for RSS Graffiti and then click on the “Go to App” button to install. The directions are fairly straight-forward, but you will need to allow access specifically to your library’s Page and not to your personal Page. Through the app you can manage any individual feed you wish to include. If your online catalog is dynamic, it may allow you to create RSS feeds based on specific search queries. You can then create an RSS feed for new materials added to the collection and have that fed to your library’s Facebook Page. Once the initial setup is complete, you can just sit back while the RSS feed magically populates your library’s Page with useful information whenever there is an update to the feed.
Promoting Your Library’s Facebook Page
Once you have established your library’s presence on Facebook, it is important to promote your Facebook Page in order to drive traffic there. Traditional methods of library marketing are still applicable, i.e. bookmarks and flyers. Handing out bookmarks to students at every library instruction and making them available to all students who check out books or visit the reference desk is extremely valuable. Information on the bookmarks should include useful information presented in an appealing way, so that students are more likely to retain and potentially even use the bookmark for what it meant to do. Basic information to include are details such as your library’s hours, the web address, and phone number to the reference desk and/or circulation. Including a QR Code that links directly to your library’s Facebook Page or even automatically “likes” your library’s Facebook Page is a great way marry traditional marketing materials with Web 2.0 features. This can be done on flyers as well and posted at key locations throughout the library.
There are many other ways you can promote your library’s Facebook Page. One of the most basic things you can do is put a Facebook button on your library’s website. Facebook wants you to use their service, so their icons are freely available to put on your website linking to your library’s Facebook Page. Adding a link to the bottom of your email signature saying, “Like us on Facebook!” is also a good way to get the message out to just about everyone you communicate with via email. Be creative and imaginative, perhaps instituting even a formal marketing campaign including a contest (first one hundred “likes” get an entry in a drawing, or a photo contest of pictures takes around the library and posted on the Facebook Page, etc.). Students like challenges and trends, so make your library trendy, and they will “like” your library’s Facebook Page.
Maintaining Your Library’s Facebook Page
Once you create a Facebook Page for your library, it is very important that you keep it active. The more active your Page is, the more fans you will get, which will increase its effectiveness and is the point of having a Page to begin with. The larger your fan-base, the more people you are reaching. Your clientele will ideally be students and faculty who are interested in maintaining a connection to their academic library. They want to know about events and new things in the library as well as changes in hours and services. Give them what they want, and you will nurture that connection between them and your library. Post about:
- Upcoming events (create an associated event in Facebook)
- New additions to the collection (create a feed in RSS Graffiti for regular updates)
- New databases
- Use your Twitter feed for simple updates like closings
- Institute a Database Tip of the Week focusing on specific databases
- Have a library mascot make a weekly or monthly presence
- Highlight a particular book with a weekly book review (each librarian can contribute over time)
- Have a weekly random photograph around the library or from campus
- Institute a contest (select or name a mascot or have a QR Code scavenger hunt)
- Be creative! It draws in users and keeps them interested
Your library’s Facebook Page can also be used for reference services. As students and faculty become accustomed to having you right at their fingertips, they may request reference information through Facebook. You may want to consider adding your reference email and information or link to your ask-a-librarian service in the information section of your Page for just that reason. Oftentimes students will post directly to the wall with a question. It is your choice whether or not you want to allow posts by others to be visible on your wall, but you should allow them. There is an option to disallow posts to your Page’s Wall, but that may alienate your fans and ultimately undermine your purpose for being there. You can always hide posts to the Wall from anyone else, so you will still see them as an administrator, but no one else will. The most important thing to consider is how to keep your Page open and accessible and inviting, since your purpose is to create and enhance connections with patrons.
Having a Facebook Page for your library is a valuable and cost-effective way to market your library. As patrons peruse their Facebook Newsfeed looking for updates from their friends and other Pages they have liked, they will find your library’s updates there as well. Finally there is a way to get library-related information to patrons in a place where they want to be.