Social networking brings people together in the online environment. Social networking sites offer a variety of different types of online environments where people can interact and information can be shared (Mon, 2015). As the blog post titled ASU and the 4Cs of social media points out, people communicate with family, friends and work colleagues instantaneously – and usually at no financial cost (Miller, 2005). People can source local, national or global news via social networking sites, and also contribute to it with their own comments and discoveries.
The best librarians will be those that understand how the most widely used Web 2.0 platforms operate. They’ll understand that the key feature of Web 2.0, including social networking, is participation (Mon, 2015). Additionally, they’ll understand the behaviours, culture and etiquettes of the communities who use them (Luo, Wang & Han, 2013). This was acknowledged in Web 2.0: Knowledge, skills and attributes. This blog post highlighted the view of library manager Christine Mackenzie (2007). Mackenzie’s view being that the central role of libraries has shifted from being about the presentation of information, to facilitating the participation of library users.
Social networking sites are certainly popular, and many sign up for more than one. In fact, 43% of social network users have multiple social networking accounts (Hanson, 2015). Most are aware that social networking accounts require personal information, and that these sites are often accessed via a person’s mobile phone. This may be a quick and convenient way to set up and use social networking tools. However, time must also be taken to appropriately set security features such as passwords, privacy settings and pin codes.
The trend of having multiple social networking accounts carries other risks too. Robinson (2013) raises concerns about a person’s (or organisation’s) ability to actually manage multiple accounts in an adequate manner. While Atlas Communications (2007) warns of too much personal information being put online. The invasion of our privacy and theft of our personal details is a concern for many. It’s evident in the fact 35% of people wish to remain anonymous while social networking (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk & Jenkins, 2007). As noted in Protecting your identity online, the less personal information you have online the better.
Helping to ease fears, Prensky (2006) reminds us that younger people have grown up in the online environment and are typically very comfortable with its use, while older people are typically extra cautious. Regardless of the potential dangers, people have taken to social networking in a big way. Facebook alone has more than a billion users globally (Hansen, 2015).
While there can be no doubt that care must be taken when using social networking tools, the power of them is there for all to see. It’s not only individuals signing up for social networking accounts, it’s now a widely established practice at an organisational level as well. For example, libraries often use a number of social networking sites to communicate with their students. ASU and the 4Cs of social media explains that this makes sense as students today have typically grown up in that online space (Prensky, 2006). Social networking is second nature to them.
If a library, or any other organisation, wants to connect more widely with people in today’s world they too must be social networkers. Of course, many of the same dangers to individuals exist at an organisational level. However, organisations must also be in that space as that’s where their users so often are. (King, 2015). Social networking sites provide a place in the online world for library users and staff to ask questions, to share news and ideas. These tools can help bring library communication to life in ways previously unseen.
A well planned and maintained social networking strategy is important to any library today (Adekunle & Olla, 2015). In devising a successful social networking strategy, libraries must therefore consider what resources they have available to employ (e.g. staff, time, finances). They must consider which social networking tools best fit the needs of their community. They must plan carefully, developing a social networking policy – including measurable targets (e.g. post numbers, views, followers). The targets and success of each adopted tool should be regularly monitored, ensuring it remains the most relevant and best option available.
Whether for an individual, a library, or any other type of organisation, social networking provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with people. It provides an opportunity to communicate online with individuals and communities in quick, convenient and exciting new ways.
Adekunle, P. A., & Olla, G. O. (2015). Social Media Application and the Library: An Expository Discourse. In A. Tella (Ed.), Social Media Strategies for Dynamic Library Service Development (pp. 41-70). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-7415-8.ch003
Atlas Communications. (2007). How to manage your digital footprint: Don’t take chances when it comes to your online reputation. Retrieved from http://atlascommunications.ca/how-to-manage-your-digital-footprint/
De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Section 3: Privacy, Security and Trust. In Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook]. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing_part3.pdf
Hansen, S. S. (2015). Social Media. In V.F. Filak (Ed.), Convergent journalism: an introduction: writing and producing across media (2nd ed.). pp.165-185. Burlington, MA.: W. Focal Press.
King, D. L. (2015). Why use social media? Library Technology Reports, 51(1), 6-9. Retrieved from EBSCOhost database.
Luo L, Wang Y, Han L (2013) Marketing via social media: A case study. Library Hi Tech 31(3), 455–466. Retrieved from http://link_resolver.unilinc.edu.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/unilinc/resolver_icon/csu.gif
Mackenzie, C. (2007). Creating our future: Workforce planning for Library 2.0 and beyond. APLIS, 20(3), 118-124.
Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library. Ariadne, 45. Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller
Mon, L. (2015). Social Media and Library Services. Morgan & Claypool Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au
Prensky, M. (2006). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), p.8-13. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/authors/ed_lead/el200512_prensky.html
Robinson, L. (2013). Choosing the right social media platform. Landscape & Irrigation, 37(4), 11. Retrieved from Gale Centage Expanded Academic ASAP database.