Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are perfectly designed for communicating creatively with our elected officials. Social media channels provide a place where libraries can share the work they are doing with their community leadership. Each platform serves a different audience and has its own strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t necessary to be active on all of the major platforms; simply tailor your message to the platform that works best for you.
FollowElected officials have social media for the same reason they have phone numbers and email: they want to hear from their constituents. Take advantage of these convenient ways to engage with them. Share news and positive stories about your library, say thank you, or make suggestions for the future. By following them, you can track what issues your elected officials are prioritizing as well as upcoming events, town halls, and debates.
Follow-UpSome elected officials use social media more than others. You might not get a response when you Tweet at your Senators or leave your Representative a comment on their Facebook page, but your message still gets through. When you meet them in person, let them know that you’ve been interacting with them on social media. When they can connect the messages with the people sending them, they pay attention.
ShareSocial media’s interactive environment offers a low-cost way for libraries to mobilize supporters, foster dialog with large audiences, and attract attention to issues that might otherwise be overlooked by traditional media. If you're using action alerts to send messages to elected leaders, use social media to circulate your calls to action and share information with your community.
Know Your Library's Social Media PolicyBefore you start posting, make sure you know what content has been approved for social media. If your library is run by your county government, you will likely have guidelines or restrictions about what political speech can appear on your library’s pages. You may need to call on your community and other library champions to help you get the word out on their pages instead. The more voices that carry your message, the stronger it gets across.
- Be concise: Keep your posts brief, with a clear call to action, and include a link to background information if necessary.
- Tags: Tagging your elected officials or community stakeholders can be an easy way to draw their attention to your campaign.
- Hashtags: If you create a hashtag for a specific event or campaign, take time to find out if anyone has used the hashtag before.
- Plan ahead: Knowing what you want to post, what you want to say, and when it will go live can help strengthen your message. Be mindful of campaign milestones you want to amplify and other events taking place in your community that might drown out what you are trying to say, and then plan your posts to coincide with or avoid them.
- Be creative: Social media platforms are creative spaces driven by highly visual content. Posts with graphics are more likely to show up in your follower’s feeds!
- Balance your content: Be careful not to overload your followers with too many posts about your campaign. Even in the midst of a heated budget campaign, limit the number of posts to each social media channel.
- Create a response plan: Whether it is a public outcry over a book challenge or backlash over an event at your library, identify the people you will call on to mitigate the crisis ahead of time. Maintain a list of who should be notified and the steps you needed to respond.