Using Electronic Media

Thanks to the wide variety of electronic media available, you can broadcast your message quickly, widely, and often in full color. The wealth of media choices also enables you to match the channel to your particular message. Whichever platform you choose, keep your message simple, consistent with your library’s message--if you are working as an independent group--and the same across all platforms you use. When appropriate, remember to crosspost!

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social networking service in the U.S. It can be viewed from computers, handheld devices, and smart phones. Facebook lets users post updates and links to “friends” (persons they agree to share info with), post photos and other images, make comments, and send individual messages to “friends.” Both individuals and groups can have Facebook accounts. You do not need to have a Facebook account to read messages on group sites.
 
As an advocacy tool, Facebook is a great way to:
  • create and expand a community of library lovers (the “like” button is powerful);
     
  • advertise upcoming library programs and events;

  • mobilize supporters when needed.
Check out these llibrary-related Facebook pages from the Association for Library Service to Children and Oakland Public Library.

Twitter

Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that lets users send and read text-based messages, called “tweets,” of up to 140 characters. Anyone can create a Twitter account by going to twitter.com and signing up.
 
The real power of Twitter lies in the number of followers you can generate. In order to generate these followers, it is important to advertise on other social media such as Facebook and your website, and to choose a catchy/on point hashtag (Twitter address) so followers can easily locate and read your tweets. Twitter is best used when you need to send a short message of some immediacy, such as the need to call a policymaker on a given day. Twitter is also useful to inform followers about what is happening at an event they cannot attend, such as a CIty Council meeting or a legislative hearing.
 

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website that allows users to post customized content such as text, photos, links, music and videos to a short-form blog.  Users can follow other user’s blogs and make their own blogs private.

Create an account by signing up at www.tumblr.com. Users search by tag names, so you’ll want to come up with an easy-to-remember tag to help you gain followers. Conveniently, a Tumblr account can be linked to other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing for automatic cross-posting.  

Tumblr postings typically have a more distinctive personal voice and can be used to advocate for a political position, share library photos of the day, post about upcoming library events, and make book recommendations.

For an example, go to Tumblr and search #Chicago Public Library.  

Note: There are other sites that allow you to create a blog.  One of the more popular is WordPress.com.

Pinterest

Pinterest brings the old adage A picture is worth a thousand words to life in a social media setting.  This site allows users to create and manage image collections via digital storyboard.

You can open an account at pinterest.com.  Once you have an account, you can create "boards" on multiple topics that interest you by "pinning" images to them.  Think photos of library advocacy events, lists of recommended books, and digital collections.

For a few examples, check out the Pinterest pages for California State Library and New York Public Library.

Websites

Websites create a more permanent record than other electronic or social media. Creating a website is a more time-consuming and complicated process than creating a social media account, with hosting, design, content, security, coding, and maintenance all factors to consider. 

Websites have several advocacy advantages:

  • Reaching library supporters who don't use social media;
  • Providing accessibility to long-term library information (e.g. downloadable signs for supporters, sample letters to be sent to policy makers, and contact information for legislators or other decision makers);
  • Giving a "face" to your advocacy campaign with a uniform look and easy-to-understand logo; and
  • Linking to social media sites for those who want up-to-the-minute information or images.

Need an example?  Look around you—you're on an advocacy website right now!  Visit the New York Library Association and The Save NYC Libraries Campaign for more inspiration.