The importance of advocacy is evident to us during a crisis. When our libraries are threatened or our staff faces cuts, then we leap into motion. But we should be mindful of advocacy every day. With social media tools, we can plan and effectively communicate our messages creatively and consistently throughout the year.
Before school begins this fall, take time to craft a strategy for how you will talk about your library projects through social media. Especially if you are a solo librarian, making a calendar can help keep you on track.
In the past, I’ve tended to be rather organic in my approach to social media. This year, I will be more organized. I’m crafting my yearlong social media advocacy plan now by adding a set of dated activities for marketing and communicating what the library does for the school. I know I will get the message out to the administration, my community, and students if I have scheduled myself to do it.
First, find a calendar tool for your plan. Google Calendar is my choice, because you can set it up to send you a daily or weekly agenda as well as hourly calendar alerts. Events can be set daily, weekly, or monthly. Next, decide what social media tools to use and to whom your messages will be directed. Ask yourself: How do I want to impact students? Parents? Administrators? In what way can I best communicate with each group, and what do I want to say?
You also need to figure out quantity of outreach. What times of year, and how often, should you contact each group? Should you ping students weekly or daily? Do monthly messages work well for parents? For administrators, are quarterly communications best? Perhaps you are a frequent tweeter, and don’t need to schedule this. One librarian I know implements effective “Twitter Tuesdays.”
Target your social networking efforts to the time of year: . There are many opportunities both to plan activities inside the library and to talk about them outside the library. Sync your social media calendar to these events.
Assessing your efforts
At the end of each month, assess whether you have met your goals. If not, don’t criticize yourself. Evaluate whether your goals are too ambitious, or what you can do to better meet them. The idea is to be more purposeful in our advocacy and to use social media to help us get the word out. Sharing what we do and inviting the larger community into our work is always valuable, not only for advocacy, but also for fostering a sense of community.
A Sample Advocacy Calendar
August Plan your year by aiming to post to parents and students on Facebook at least once a week. Use Vimeo to create a short video introducing the library to students. Build your Facebook (and Twitter) presence by sharing it with staff, students, and parents through common channels such as newsletters.
September Create a website featuring essential library tools with parents and students using a wiki, Libguides page, LiveBinders, MentorMob, Learnist, or Netvibes. Use a screencasting app such as Explain Everything to demonstrate library resources, create a trailer on YouTube, or use the Smore app to let students know what resources are available to them. Share this with parents.
October Have students contribute book trailers via Animoto for books highlighted during Banned Books Week. Share via Facebook and Twitter. Communicate with principals and teachers about the importance of your district selection policy. Highlight key items with a video or PDF app such as neu.Annotate.
November Create a screencast via Explain Everything to share ebook information with parents. Tweet and post on Facebook about student library projects.
December Create an Animoto video with snapshots of library activities and share it as a “gift” to thank your school principal and superintendent for their library support. For parents and community, create a Smore page sharing details of your students’ fall library activities and projects.
Carolyn Foote is a “technolibrarian” at Westlake High School in Austin, TX. She blogs at Not So Distant Future.