Below is exactly what librarians are saying on a public relations listserv for the American Library Association. Here is the most telling quote:
For the past several months, our popular suburban Chicago public library has been moving away from Facebook and all social media channels. Polling patrons, we've learned that occasional content-rich emails are far more effective, likely because they are ... not subject to algorithms....
More importantly, there are serious ethical questions about actively using Facebook (or Instagram): How can libraries, in good conscience, use social media platforms that are a) eroding democratic ideals and b) violating user privacy without remorse or consequence? In local library marketing round tables, we've begun asking these important questions and some of our colleagues are thinking about them. We urge all public libraries to at least consider the social cost of these communication channels. -Becky
- "Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Message to 2019 Graduates: ‘My Generation Has Failed You,’" by Sissi Cao, Observer, 20 May 2019.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 7:39 AM
Hi, I’ve received some comments lately that we should not use Facebook anymore, that it’s a dying social media platform. However, I argue the people using Facebook are those who are using the library most – young moms age 25 to 40. I want to continue using it.
Is everyone still using Facebook? Are you advertising on Facebook? What are you thoughts about continuing using this platform? What other social media outlets are you having success with?
Thanks for your consideration. Theresa
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 7:44 AM
I'm in an academic library and while Facebook demographics are aging, the platform remains important to us as it's the major (likely only) social media platform our donors and board members engage with. True for older alumni as well. While it's aging, it's still the gorilla in the living room and our largest platform. Sue
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 7:49 AM
I absolutely think it’s still an important communications outlet. Around seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in early 2019. That’s unchanged since April 2016, but up from 54% of adults in August 2012.
If you are looking at young adults or teens, yes, many of them have left Facebook for other platforms (Instagram for example), which is why a multi-prong approach to social media is best.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 9:56 AM
More importantly, there are serious ethical questions about actively using Facebook (or Instagram): How can libraries, in good conscience, use social media platforms that are a) eroding democratic ideals and b) violating user privacy without remorse or consequence? In local library marketing round tables, we've begun asking these important questions and some of our colleagues are thinking about them. We urge all public libraries to at least consider the social cost of these communication channels.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:06 AM
Yes, we're still using Facebook - in fact, just this year we've started boosting some of our posts and creating Events for most of our programs, and have a seen an uptick in attendance and resource usage! We also see a lot of activity on our posts (likes, shares, comments, etc.), so people are still using it. I have seen similar demographic stats to those Tami shared, and for that reason agree with her completely about using demographics to target specific social media. Also, while there were calls for people to leave Facebook due to the privacy scandals, I read an article a few months back that suggested that while some users had left, there was by no means a mass exodus. In short, I believe that comments that Facebook is dying are like comments that libraries are no longer necessary - it's true for people who don't use them, but since they don't, they don't see how many people ARE using them.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:14 AM
We still use it, and we have more engagement there than on our other platforms (Twitter and Instagram). We are an academic library and we added Instagram recently in order to reach our students. But overall we have the largest number of followers and more interactions with patrons via Facebook. I wouldn’t give up on it yet, especially at a public library.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:24 AM
Yes, we still use it. We do periodic surveys of our patrons and it’s the most popular place for people to hear about our events by quite a large margin. We use free posts, boosted posts, and ads, depending on the event type and budget. Paid or organic, we get more engagement there than any other social media, paper flyers, or email newsletters.
If it works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Trends are never as important as your actual experience.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:39 AM
Our experience is similar. We know we won’t reach teens via Facebook, but we are reaching adults and are getting more and more engagement.
We recently starting creating more of our programs as “events” on Facebook and have seen an uptick in the number of people following and liking our page, as well as overall engagement.
We also boost selected library programs and get decent results – our budget for that is very modest, but it does seem to help.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:41 AM
For us, it is a vital tool. We do advertise, but often times, people discover us through Facebook or Google. They are searching for "blind products" or "audiobooks blind" and our website pops up and our facebook page pops up. It also gives me direct access to the caregivers of our clients. Example: Parents of Blind Children; Blind Parents, Caregiver's Anonymous. I use the boards to not only share information but look for ways for us to expand services or fine-tune our services if needed.
We don't use Insta or Snapchat - mostly because I'm one person running social media an agency and half, but also because accessibility is questionable.
We are moving away from Newsletters because we use Word/PDF and our patrons have difficulty opening them on their phones. Instead, we are moving towards a blog.
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 10:54 AM
We continue to use Facebook, Insta, and Twitter (primarily to feed our local reporters- they check Twitter often for news leads).In our annual customer survey, we find that community members find out about our programs and services through email (49%), social media (31%), and posters in the library (27%), along with other channels.
I always think of our social media platforms as tools to help remind/reinforce the messages we're sending. They see something on Facebook that they also see on a poster, or in an email. Knowing that it can take several times for information to "stick," I feel like it's still a very valuable tool.
- "Public Libraries Must Unblock Social Media Participants," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 9 January 2019.