“Education and definition of Social Media,” as prescribed by the HighTechDad, is one way to encourage library staff to make sensible, independent decisions about: communicating in an audience-sensitive voice; responsible content creation and sharing; and honest, respectful use of social media for library-related topics.
The image above illustrates levels of online conversation and the time investment required to effectively use certain social media.
The Social Media Policy model below was designed for a hypothetical public library. I’ve named this library, ‘Cloud Public Library.’ These social media guidelines were drafted to encourage library staff to experiment and communicate using social media in a CPL respectful, self-responsible, and patron responsive manner.
I kept these sources in mind while drafting this policy: Lauby’s 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, Weider’s Social Media Policy and Employee Guidance, Kroski’s Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy?, and a social media policy generated by Policy Tool from Stephens’ Anytown Public Library entry on Tame the Web. These sources focus on encouraging people to leverage the positive features of social media tools, while remaining conscious of statements they are publishing online.
Social Media Policy Model for Cloud Public Library
Social Media has changed how millions of people work, learn, and communicate. Cloud Public Library is an active presence in social media communities such as Facebook, Twitter, Formspring, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, wikis and more. CPL staff are highly encouraged to use social media to promote our library and enhance our services.
CPL librarians and staff practice using and evaluating emerging information and communication technologies to: (1) assist patrons in safely and efficiently engaging technology, (2) improve the quality and reach of library services, and (3) advocate for CPL and our patron community.
This policy serves as a guide for staff using social media technology. See our Social Media Librarian for further assistance and advice!
Respect the Library and your Readers
When communicating using social media, think about your audience! Write messages using professional, yet friendly language to reinforce positive perceptions about our Library. Our online readers are partners and current/potential library patrons. Strive for awareness and sensitivity in patron communication. Respect the privacy of CPL and CPL patrons when creating content on behalf of Cloud Public Library. If you see misrepresentations about CPL in the media, point them out. Avoid arguments with other parties by responding politely and supporting any corrections with reliable evidence.
Be Accessible, Authentic, and Accurate
When communicating to library patrons, library partners, and the social media world, openly state your name and your professional role at CPL. Focus on writing in a positive, honest, and considerate manner. This will demonstrate an open, friendly attitude that will reinforce positive perceptions about CPL staff, patrons, our Library, and our social media presence. Your social community will feel encouraged to share, communicate, and ask for help in a positive and honest online environment.
Use Common Sense
Consider the risks of publishing misinformation and inappropriate content on the Internet. Reconsider publishing anything that you would be nervous showing your mother. Edit your messages as if you were sending them to be published. In all writing, CPL staff should exercise respect for resource copyrights and intellectual property rights by citing sources. No one wants their work or their ideas stolen. Just think. Would offensive or negative language be appropriate to use? Exercise your common sense. When unsure, consult existing library policy or CPL’s Social Media Librarian.
Start positive and truthful conversation about how CPL is working to both address community issues and provide relevant resources and services to our patrons. Check Twitter to see if someone is looking for a book recommendation or an information resource. Embrace your strengths and learn best practice use of social media to support your community. Whether you are writing to, discuss community issues in an online forum, share news and programs relevant to patrons, or respond to a reference question – remember that your social media skills and positive attitude add value to conversation about, and within, CPL.
People love to talk and share with family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers online. Evolving information and communication technology is changing the way we work, learn, and maintain relationships.
No one should be “dooced” because of a careless online comment. Library leaders are discovering an increasing need to communicate the appropriate and productive uses of emerging social media technology to library staff. And all public Library staff should be prepared to teach the safe and effective use of these social media tools to patrons in need.