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Future of Libraries 2010
Social Media Capital
Patrick Sweeney

This was a very helpful and practical presentation from Patrick Sweeney ( started by showing a popular viral video about social media, quoting statistics about various social media sites and their impact on society. (e.g. 80% of companies use social media for recruitment. Ashton Kutcher has more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. 34% of bloggers write about brands and products).

Social capital is “the collective value of all ‘social networks’ and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other” (Putnam). An example is at San Mateo County Library they are organizing programs and finding performers through Facebook connections and discussions. Facebook and Twitter are also a place to follow local government officials and partner agencies and engage with them by answering questions they have, re-tweeting their good content, etc.

Make sure your online profile is up to date and accurate in directories, news sites, and online maps. Search for your library in Yahoo & Google and see what comes up. Is it accurate? Make sure that any news stories about the library contain updated information if anything has changed (change in policy, hours, etc.). People will go back and see this through web search, and you want to make sure it’s accurate.

Go over Yelp, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to see what’s being said on other sites and profiles and –engage– by commenting, liking, and following. Look at what your staff are talking about as well — likely the library is often mentioned in their posts. One more way to reach out to your customers.

Find out which sites your community is using. It might not be Facebook or Twitter. His library’s Hispanic community is mostly using MySpace, so that’s someplace they need to be. He also warns not to try to use everything and be everywhere. Pick the top 5. His top 5 are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and WordPress.

Some decisions to make. Are you going to post as an institution, or as an individual? What brand are you going to use with these profiles? Will it be employee-run or organizationally-run? Employee-run posting can provide some legal implications and issues (moderating comments, freedom of information, etc.). What are you going to say? Just pushing out information one-way as a marketing tool is not the most effective way to reach out. Think about who your audience is before posting.

Policies! Argh. You need policies about what staff can do and cannot do, both on their own time and during work hours. You need a patron posting policy to govern comments or moderation. You might need policies about each individual site too.

Think about your brand. Register your name at a site like Have a standard logo or photo, description/biography, and tags (if available). He recommends registering as many of your names and acronyms as possible, just as you do with domain names (to prevent squatters from providing ads or misleading sites).

How to find friends. Talk to people virtually and face-to-face about the fact that you’re on these sites. Use hashtags to follow organizations, products, names, and topics. Create a hashtag for your library too! Have contests or promotions for friending or following. Retweet something that someone else has posted that is applicable for libraries, and they’ll see your retweet and perhaps then follow you. Answer informational questions that you find on Facebook or Twitter. Take the initiative and help others where they’re asking the questions. Ask questions too. Seeking input from your community is an excellent way to encourage engagement.

Catch a meme wave and put the library’s name and resources out there where our customers are paying attention. He showed us the viral Old Spice library video and the Harold B. Lee Library’s parody of the Old Spice videos advertising the library. He pointed out the “People for a library-themed Ben & Jerry’s flavor” page.

What not to do! Don’t ever post anything negative – it won’t bring about anything good. Don’t lie. Don’t post about religion, sex, or politics. Don’t troll (saying something negative just to get a rise out of people).

Find out when you’re getting mentioned in the news. Set up Google Alerts, use TwinBox (for Twitter), and then run searches for yourself in sites, look at rating sites like Yelp, and listen to what people say. Respond to them as you would a customer right in front of you.

If users are posting about negative experiences you need to respond. He recommends looking at Kodak’s social media plan (inc. how to deal with negative behaviors online).

Now that you have social capital, how are you going to spend that? Find out what your community wants — do they need more business books, programs, services, open hours? These are conversations you can have with your customers in real time, from anywhere. Connect with your city/county/school organizations and collaborate with them on projects via these tools. If you emote a happy and fun persona online, this can translate into voting support, funding, etc. Advertise the services you have, letting people know what you have and what you do for them. Promote online materials over print, as this is an online medium. Mention local resources, including local artists and bands too — you might find a performer!

As a librarian, don’t forget about your own social network as a tool for professional development and connections. This helps you connect with people with like interests, get feedback and help, make connections that make you visible if you want to publish or run for office in ALA or another professional organization.

“Future of Libraries 2010: Social Media Capital (Patrick Sweeney)”

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