Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


Social Media best practices

A few months ago (time sure gets funny around the end of Fall semester, with all those holidays!) I started drafting a social media policy for MPOW. We’ve never had one, but some questions arose around best practices for starting YouTube channels, and I was asked to draft some. The week I was starting to dig into drafting this, a query went out over the ILI-L email list asking about social media policies, and I mentioned I was starting to write one. The response was overwhelming — I had over 100 personal requests for a copy of the policy once it was written. And if anyone else mentioned their library’s policy over that list, I missed it.  Given that demand, I decided to share my draft policy — and the thought processes that went into it — broadly.  There are few Library social media policies publicly available, and the peculiarities of each institution drives the shape of any policy of this type. So, here are the things I considered when drafting my best practices. 

  • My university has no social media policies. Therefore, I don’t have to match theirs in tone or content, or ensure that the Library policies follow any thing other than the law.
  • Social media is a tiny part of my job, and it was a tiny part of the job of the person who managed it before me.  
  • I inherited Knowledge Center accounts  on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Pinterest, and Flickr. I have begun posting on Facebook, have a mess to sort out on Flickr, do not have time to keep Twitter active, and Pinterest is a playground for us. I have also created sites for us on Instagram and YouTube.  I manage the Knowledge Center accounts, and only those accounts. Special Collections, the Basque Library, the Engineering Library, Digital Media, and a handful of other units in the Libraries have their own accounts on many of these same sites, and more.  This document comes after we started using social media and not before.
  • Every institution has history. Mine is no exception. There was a kerfuffle a couple of years ago about a posting by an individual on one of their own social media accounts. There were some bruised feelings, and some suspicion about motives. Not large, but still lingering and I thought it was important to not antagonize those feelings.
  • We don’t have many policies.
  • I have no authority to develop, declare, or enforce policy
  • We have an increasingly transient librarian population. And I spent the better part of a year at a previous job working with Yahoo to reclaim Flickr login credentials set up by a graduate student but never shared.
  • I know we need a section about defunct accounts (when to declare an account defunct, how to take them down, etc.) But I haven’t figured that one out myself yet (please don’t look at how long it’s been since anything posted to work Twitter!)

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I already suspect I will be creating sub-documents/tipsheets for each media platform.