I like hearing what’s going on in a quick and easy-to-digest fashion, especially on Twitter. It’s so easy to share that info with other library accounts who follow me.
— Survey Respondent
We looked at our survey results to determine which social media platforms are the best for ALCTS to focus on. We wanted to look for social media accounts that our target audience log into frequently, and platforms that users favor for professional as well as personal use. ALCTS also had the stated goal of tapping into newer professionals, so we looked at the cross-section of users who identify as being MLIS students or in the profession for fewer than five years to see if it was different from the overall population of respondents, though we ultimately found the differences to be insignificant.
There were no surprises in the most frequently used social media platforms among all respondents. Facebook sees nearly twice the use of Twitter, the nearest competitor. LinkedIn and Twitter are nearly equal on numbers of users, but Twitter is used much more frequently. However, among students and new professionals (the natural target audience for new members), Facebook’s dominance drops markedly. Twitter and LinkedIn still rank second and third in numbers of users, but numbers four, five, and six (Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram) are nearly even with each other and are accessed more frequently than LinkedIn.
It should also be noted that many technical services professionals actively use group email lists (colloquially known as “listservs,” a trademarked term) for professional development and networking. Social media does not and should not replace that venue for collaboration — a preference repeated many times in survey comments.
With active, professionally-oriented use favoring Facebook and Twitter, we recommend ALCTS consider a unified presence on each platform, while keeping an eye on the growth of emerging platforms for potential future use. There may not be enough return on the invested time to dedicate to maintaining a presence on other platforms.
That said, ACLTS can still connect with users across a variety of social media services through tools like cross-platform hashtags. Special promotions, such as the photo scavenger hunt, should be available for participation regardless of the participants’ favored platform — for example, instead of requiring users to post photos to Flickr exclusively, promote a hashtag that can be used on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr so that users can participate where they want. ALCTS can monitor those hashtags across platforms without maintaining a presence on those platforms. Again — be where your members are.
- Focus on Twitter and Facebook since they have the most active users.
- Consolidate accounts to have a more focused presence.
- Use hashtags to cross-promote on other platforms.