I’m trying to update MPOW’s Social Media Plan (yes, less than a week after getting the first draft of the Web Plan into the Web Team’s hands—and I still need to make the edits we agreed on, to that; frankly, I’ve done so much planning, lately, it’s a wonder anything’s gotten done). And I’m finding that, far more so than two years ago, social media has gotten messy. I have to say, the problems we’re having are mostly very good problems to have. It’s just making the document hard to write.
Currently: We have people who blog, people who post to Twitter/Facebook, people who make videos that I upload to YouTube for them, people who take photos for Flickr, and soon there will also be people who can contribute to shared Pinterest boards. But not all of these people are on our Social Media Team.
Two years ago: I created the Social Media Team (with input and approval from our Department Heads group) with the intention of managing a Facebook page and Twitter stream. We’ve consistently had at least five members, each with a designated day to post to and monitor Facebook and Twitter. Although I know there are people who see social media as frivolous, I have to say this team has been amazing. Early on we sat down and had some very serious discussions about what kind of tone we wanted to convey, what kind of material was appropriate, etc. The discussions didn’t get heated, exactly, but they were very serious. I wish every social media detractor in libraryland could have been a fly on the wall for our discussions, because they were great. But I digress.
Eventually, the library got a YouTube channel, where we’ve posted a number of tutorials—we haven’t discussed “tone” for YouTube and are really only using it as a way to make our standard videos more easily discoverable, not as a strategic piece of the social media presence, per se. (It would be very cool to have a YouTube Czar, who can give the whole library trainings on good video etiquette, such as “try to keep it to two minutes,” or “always type up your own captions,” or whatever is appropriate—I admit, I’m lackadaisical at best in my YouTube usage and don’t know the best practices for that medium as well as I should.)
Then, due to some magic done by the Web Team (and a fair bit of work by me), we managed to revive our blogs. That effort is still growing kind of slowly, but our Reference Department has been maintaining their blog, our Dean posts to his blog periodically, our Electronic Resources Librarian has started a blog, and our Assessment Team has started a blog. A future in which blog posts outnumber Facebook updates is not so unimaginable as it once was. Which is awesome! And a little scary, since we’ve opened up a major communication venue to people who weren’t there for the social media discussions.
Then we got Flickr. There’s not much to say about that; we haven’t put a ton of effort into it, beyond naming a Flickr Czar. (She might have decided on another title. :)) That will grow slowly over time, we think.
Back to what’s happening now: Our Social Media Team is officially the only the group who posts to Twitter/Facebook—though new blog posts are auto-shared on Twitter, for now—and they are the group that makes decisions about the overall direction the library should be going with social media. That’s the group I go to when I want to discuss whether we should add a new social media service, or where any of us can ask “Is this a good idea to post?” But it’s no longer the only group participating in social media. There are the bloggers. There are the video makers. There will be Flickrers(?) and Pinners(?). Few of these folks are on the Social Media Team proper.
I mean, we can restructure the team so that there’s no need to claim a day and deal with FB/Twitter, so you can be on it even if you’re just a sometimes-Pinner. But I don’t think that solves the problem. Frankly, I’m unwilling to make Social Media Team membership a requirement to write blog posts—and not just because I’d have to take away our Dean’s blog. I want to remove any hurdles between our librarians and the communities they’re trying to talk to, not add new ones. (I really, really do want them to follow some simple best practices for blogging, but ultimately, I have accepted that it’s not going to happen, at least not universally.)
Aside from my philosophy of removing hurdles, a major theme in the Web Plan is that the whole organization has to be invested in the web presence. Content has to be kept up to date, or it gets weeded. (Yeah, I put that in there! So good, right?) Social media is part of the web presence, and it’s a part that people can really easily participate in, via blogs and video tutorials and probably all kinds of routes, honestly. So it makes sense that, over time, huge swaths of the library would be involved in social media… without necessarily being on the Social Media Team. I see the Social Media Team becoming, more and more, a guiding hand for organization-wide social media participation—to draw a messy comparison, I see them as kind of what the Web Team ought to be for LibGuides: a group that helps keep things on track, that builds and maintains best practices for content creation, and that gives people help and guidance when they need it. (The whole LibGuide thing is going to be its own project and its own post; my ideas about the Web Team’s role may not match well with the organization’s ideas.)
I just have to figure out what to write about it, right now, that makes sense.