Dividing up the work of managing social networking channels

Last fall the Library began using Twitter and Facebook to share news and information with students. The accounts had listed for a while, but their use was adhoc, with occasional updates from some of the librarians working virtual reference. Our communications officer (Merika) and I sat down and planned out how we could use these channels more effectively.

We started by using them to support our orientation program in the fall. In this we were assisted by a few other librarians, and we worked together to draft a number of posts, scheduled the publishing of those posts (using a shared calendar in Exchange), and shared the responsibility of posting the content to Twitter and Facebook at the appropriate times.

Once orientation was over, Merika and I continued to use the calendar to prepare a ‘pipeline’ of content for these feeds, and each of us continued to post more or less the same content to Twitter and Facebook.

We had some success with this approach, but still have a long way to go to get our number of followers up into the range where we are reaching the number of people we would like.

This year I thought we would try something different. Merika is on extended leave, and so over the coming academic year I’ll be sharing the social networking duties with our current communications officer, Sabrina. As it turns out, Sabrina is more comfortable using Twitter, and I spend far more time using Facebook, so I thought to myself: instead of us both posting the same content to each network, why don’t we each take one channel and post content independently?

Of course, we’re still both working from the same announcements and trying to promote the same services, so there is and will always be some overlap. But each of us is free to write up the posts as we see fit, allowing us to take advantage of the particularities of the platform. For example, you can post more text with Facebook and images can be included directly in the news feed. More importantly, though, is that I’m hoping that each of us might develop a different voice, so that people will get a better sense that there is an actual person behind the feed, not just some bit of script pushing content out to all channels.

There is a risk that the voices will be different, but I don’t think that is all that important, as long as they are within the same ‘brand envelope’, if you will. It is ok for people to discover that there are different people working at the Library! In fact, I think it is very important that people get a better sense of the actual people who work at the Library, that these people come to represent the Library.

As I’ve mentioned before, we need to use the web not only to make information available to our users, but to create connections between our users and the people in the library. I’m hoping that this small change in how we manage our social networks will contribute to making that happen.

P.S. Please feel free to follow the Library on either Facebook or Twitter and let us know how we are doing!

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