Social Media Policies

I am glad that this week we are starting to address the question of staff buy-in.

In this week’s lesson, Professor Neal states that “Understanding and following the culture of your chosen site is also important; people behave differently on Facebook than they do on Twitter. “

While I don’t feel that following every tip that a private sector social media maven has to offer is the best strategy- there is a lot the libraries can learn from their strategies. Because, if we try and fail, we can move on, if they are failing at social media, their company suffers.

The next MEDIA article has a number of great tips.

  • Have a point person
  • Use analytics
  • Insert Social Media into all aspects of the business
All three are vital- you need one person to know all of the ins and outs of the process, even if there are other staff members involved- because you don’t want staff or patrons running around trying to figure how is in charge of what. Analytics help set benchmarks and goals, let you know what is working and what isn’t. As helpful as it is to have some quotes and anecdotes, many, many members of the online community are  “lurkers” or silent, and hit counts, link-trackers and other methods of measuring silent traffic are very important. And finally, your social media strategy cannot be a side-project. To be successful your social media strategy needs “to become part of [your] organization’s DNA”. Of course, fo that there needs to be complete staff buy-in.

Looking at the policy examples from: UT Southwestern Library, Washoe County, and others- I can see the patterns. Libraries want people to participate, but warnt hem about proper behaviour, and issues in privacy and security. And in being honest. While I am not sure where the most approciate place for this policy to live (transparency requires accessibility), I think that social media policies are vital.

I really enjoyed Sharlyn Lauby’s article on social media policy must haves. Every point is well considered and valuable. You need to see social media s part of your job, you need to evaluate and speak to your community, and honesty and authenticity are paramount. Your community won;t trust you if they think that you are hiding something. Post your new Strategic Plan to your website and then link to it from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Have a staff member blog about the process- who was consulted, what measures were taken into consideration and so on. The School Library Journal discussion on social media policies has some great examples as well, and respect is paramount, as is responsibility. Own up to mistakes that are made- don’t ignore them. If the website goes down, met people know and when they can expect it to come back up. That may be the first time a patron may come to your twitter feed- finding out why something might not be working.

Now, back to buy-in.

The Erica Swallow article on Mashable speaks to training, and that is a great step. It includes a lot of the steps necessary in any plan making process (have a team and benchmarks), but also something librarians might not think of right away. Like training & retraining frequently. If your staff aren’t using their new skills every day, or weren’t able to process all of the information the first time, you need to re-train for maintenance. I know that when I was running our eReader program back home, I was very surprised at how quickly staff forgot the skills they learned.

I think about the question of buy-in a lot. And I found two articles that have really helped me think about the problem (I need to get back into the field before I can feel as though I have a real grasp on the issue).

The first article is from the Harvard Business Review, February 16, 2011 and was written by John Kotter. Entitled “Before you can get buy-in, People need to feel the problem“, the article is relatively short and explains that upper management and other staff need to see that there is a problem before they will buy into your prosal. And libraries need to do that with social media and other technologies- explain why it is vital to participate, what segments of the population will be effected and how participation will help out. If you can, approach who might not be into social media, and how your library’s participation in it might help them learn new skills. People need to see that there is a problem (gap in service) before they will agree to “fixing it”.

The second article came up in my RSS feed reader last week, and I put off reading it for a couple of days before reading it. Entitled “Classic Blunder #2: Assuming Resistance is a Bad Thing” it is written by Meredith Farkas from Information Wants to be Free. I can admit that I am the type of person who tends to dive head-first into a project without thinking about the consequences or resistance. Her article points out that people need to know why they should buy-in (see above) but also that they might know things that you don’t about why an idea may not work. And that the key to getting buy-in is communication. Talk to people! Talk to those who are resistant, as well as those who are not, answer any questions they might have and address their concerns, this process may help you develop a better project plan as well. I love the way her post made me think about how I approach projects.

After reading this week’s articles, as well as my own, I am pretty optimistic about the future of libraries and their role in social media!

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3 Responses to Social Media Policies

  1. cmonnin says:

    I really enjoyed this post! And thanks for the link to Meredith Farkas’ article. I thought her article was particularly interesting because lately I’ve been feeling, like, ‘us’, younger folk, take resistance to change, and particularly technological change so personally. And yet, Farkas is right, sometimes the proposed projects are rejected because they aren’t any good, or there is a lack of clarity to them. Everyone wants their organization to succeed – so I have to remember that sometimes the resistance is due more to the project, than the overall idea. And in that respect, you are absolutely right, communication is key when trying to solve these disagreements. Sometimes, all it takes, is talking with colleagues to get onto the same page. Thanks – I’ll definitely be keeping these ideas in mind in the future.

  2. ASK says:

    Great post Sarah. I think buy-in is so important. Caroline great point you noted about Farkas’ article and taking it personally. I think a lot of us do. I have spoken to a few young Librarians that experience the “resistance to change” and have found it very frustrating.

  3. rlcoffin says:

    I have to agree with the importance of re-training frequently to get buy-in. Not only do we need to train people how to use social media, want to use social media, understand the implications of social media, etc. – we also need to retrain because social media changes so fast that strategic plans constantly need to be re-evaluated and modified. For example, the Pinterest explosion in the last 6 months!

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