Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Our Library Facebook page - pros and cons

Many libraries have a Facebook page where they post library information, announce special events and respond to queries. Anyone can become a “fan” of the Library Facebook page if they are already on Facebook. Those who are not already on Facebook will receive a link, inviting them to join up. Pages are free, however the option of placing paid advertisements is also available.

What has been our library's experience with the Facebook page?

We started the Edith Cowan University Library Facebook page back in March 2008 and now, 15 months later, we have 300 fans. Initially we took the minimalist approach and kept the Facebook wall locked down, as we were not wanting to devote too much staff time to page maintenance. We opened the wall in mid 2008, and we find we do get some messages from our students there.

What Benefits can a library Facebook page deliver?

What I like about the Facebook page is you can you can run an RSS feed into your page, so all our blog posts come up there. You can add videos and photos to give more of a presence. If you are tech savvy you can write a Facebook catalogue search widget. Database search widgets won't work unless you adjust authenication settings. Since June 2009 Facebook page owners have been able to claim their organsiational name for the page, so this will help with brand recognition. We are now Facebook also provides statistics so you can get some good demographics on your fans.

Any Downside?

What I don’t like about the Facebook page, is the lack of control over the interface and the closed network (i.e you need to be a Facebook member to access the site). Facebook’s interface has had two new revamps over the last 15 months and each time we needed to take stock. The latest design gives a more Twitter feel to the pages which we are now trying to exploit.

Where to now?

We probably need to market the Facebook page more and use some of the functionality it does provide. 15 months down the track we are still exploring ways to engage with our fans and keep them coming back.

Was it worth the effort?

Given that it did not take a lot of setting up I would say the return on investment has been OK, but I would not throw huge resources into it. I view it rather as a test bed which will give us a glimpse into future opportunities for libraries to use social media to connect with customers. Facebook may not the best medium for a university library to reach students. It’s just one of many social media options around and worth investigating and we know our students love it. Also, the exercise of setting up a page can expose library staff to social networking media and help them learn new skills ... until the next big thing comes along.


Hana said...

reasoned arguments for and against, cheers Julia. But how do you know that your "students love it"? give me a link if poss.

Susan Graham said...

I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success.

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Susan Graham