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Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics—Part V

The Basics

The YA Department of the Nashville Main Library is an undeniably important part of the teen community in Nashville; what it lacks in social media strategy it makes up for in face-to-face interaction.

However, I truly believe that committing to more social media interaction would highly benefit the patrons of the YA Department; most of them highly support more advanced usage, at least concerning Facebook. However, Twitter is growing, though, for this age group.

Thoughts & Solutions

1. Use the platform; tweak the platform.

According to the interview with Lisa, the library has a social media platform, but again, it doesn’t have much to do with the YA Department. Also, it’s not so much that its in use, but rather, administration has a a document to “prove” that they have “plans” to make the library’s online presence stronger. Commit already! The platform should also be tweaked to allow the YA Department a little more freedom; for example, its own Twitter may be helpful, rather than just a broadcasting of pre-approved tweets from @NowatNPL .

2. Time Management

One of the biggest limitations to improving social media in the YA Department is, of course, time. However, just because there is no “time” doesn’t mean that accounts should be set up and then left alone out in cyber space. Updates don’t have to be every five minutes, but major events, contests, and reminders should be posted. Working out a schedule between YA librarians could be helpful; Hootsuite would also be a great tool for timing and collaboration.

3. Open Communication: Remember the Audience

As mentioned in the platform discussion, the YA Department should be given a little more freedom in managing its own social media. A PR department for 21 library branches as a whole doesn’t seem sufficient to get out the word about the great things going on with the teens. There should be open communication between the different departments within each branch about social media efforts, as the audience for each department is extremely different. The demographics for each branch are vastly different as well; remember the audience. Research and adjust!

4. Publicize.

Outdated social media cards aren’t enough to encourage interaction online; social media usage should be openly publicized, especially in the YA department.

Even simple posters could encourage interaction!

For example, I saw this poster on my walk to Starbucks a few days ago. Kudos, UPS, for jumping on the bandwagon! Advertise for prospective interaction.

 

 

 

 

5.Take advantage of patron knowledge.

The teen patrons of the YA Department know tons about social media; they were brought up in an online culture, and this culture keeps growing! If librarians tried to get them interested, I’m sure they would be happy to help out, even if it is just something to put on their resumes for college. Either way, use the manpower resources that are available!

6. If all else fails, hire an intern.

The library offers high school and college internship programs already but not with the YA Department. There may be some liability issues, yes, but in order for the YA Department to increase its reach and effect, time must be allocated to social media tactics and development.

Final Musing

All libraries across the U.S. with YA Departments could definitely benefit from getting on board with this whole social media craze; believe it or not, this is not a fad, and social media is not going anywhere anytime soon.

More and more people rely on suggestions and interactions online that ultimately affect their physical choices.

Even if YA Departments are just about creating a sense of community and fun, rather than attempting to bolster literacy, social media would help bolster that community outside of the library.

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Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics–Part IV

The Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch brings in an array of students to the Teen Department including:

– Hume Fogg Academic Magnet

-Martin Luther King Magnet

-East Literature Magnet

-Hunter’s Lane

-McGavock

-Pearl Cohn

-Big Picture                                                  [click the photo above for more Bus info!]

-Cane Ridge

-Hillwood

The Metropolitan Transit Authority makes bussing possible from all of these schools to downtown Nashville; these teens have many different choices for after-school programs or destinations, but they choose the downtown library.

I got the chance to chat with some of the teens a few weeks ago about how they feel about social media, specifically relating to the library.

What Teens Think

One Hunter’s Lane student and ROTC leader explained his love for Facebook:

“It’s a different way to talk to people outside of school.”

A McGavock student commented that Facebook interaction would be great with the library to share pictures and increase “library exposure.” If the Teen Department had a Twitter account, he would definitely follow them in order to keep up with events.

Events like the ones documented on the nplmainya’s flickr (for example, the summer reading party to the left) could potentially go unnoticed without social media interaction.

 

Another student mentioned that Facebook would connect everyone for contests more easily, making them easier to know about; she would also like to be able to keep up with events in this way, as she has missed too many for her liking.

However, concerning Twitter, she exclaimed:

“NO! I DON’T WANT TO FOLLOW THE LIBRARY!”

[This feeling relates back to James’ point of what the library has to offer the teens.]

Finally, one well-spoken Senior from Cane Ridge explained his view to me; for the library’s purposes, he believes that Facebook is better, as it would offer more information, but he would still follow the Teen Department on Twitter.

At Cane Ridge, though, he asserted, “Most people are on Twitter; they do it in class on their phones because it is easier than Facebook.”

What It Comes Down To

 

Like James mentioned in his interview, the YA department’s social media presence should be about functionality.

The teens, though, seem very optimistic about using social media in order to connect with their library.

 

The Problem & What’s Next

Advertising, or getting the word out, about the YA Department’s social media efforts is key, but with time resources limited, devotion to the social media platform is limited at best.

The final installment of this series will present some ideas for improvement!


Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics– Part III

An Interview with James McClanahan: Teen Program Coordinator

James easily connects with students in the teen section of the library with his fun, commanding personality.

In fact, James worked in the YA department when I was a teenager, and he has only become more friendly and welcoming since I sat amongst those same shelves.

James’ View on Social Media 

There are opportunities for teens to connect with the library through social media, specifically with emailing in book reviews for the blog that has just been updated, now running through WordPress, as well as through the library’s teen Facebook page.

However, James has some qualms about the effectiveness of social media with his core group of students downtown.

James thinks it’s difficult to promote Facebook; he said,

“What do we (the library) have to offer them [on Facebook]?”

The Problem

According to James, the library is unaware of how to utilize social media efficiently.

He explained, “The library does not have the right mindset.”

James also discussed his efforts in trying to put up events on the YA blog, but administrators rejected this proposal, as they wanted to keep it an exclusive place for book reviews.

This is why his fun videos like this sit on an outdated Flickr account, unnoticed.

Events are probably the most important aspect of the teen area, apart from the daily socialization and homework time.

James believes that “face-to-face time” is more important than a social media presence right now.

“Interactivity is key,” he explained, but in reference to personal relationships.

Where’s Twitter, again?

The YA Department does not have access to NPL’s Twitter account, referenced in Part I, nor does it have its own Twitter. According to James, the YA department can submit tweets the administration of @NowatNPL, but they have to be approved.

Regardless, the process is a little too lengthy to the average tweeter.

“If there was some magical formula, we’d use it…”

James asserted, “If there was some magical formula, we’d use it.”

The issue, though, is that there isn’t; however, James realizes that they could take advantage of this extra communication. However, the YA department would have to consider functionality.

“Facebook [and] texting are big,” James explained, expressing interest in setting up text updates for events in the YA department.

He also hopes to set “Teen Web” as the homepage for the public computers in the department.

Social Functionality

After past educational programs flopped, the YA department focuses mostly on fun social programs  and events to create a sense of community.

However, since the teens are physically there every weekday, James questions the functionality of social media.

What’s Next?

Part IV will give us perhaps the most important point of view– the teen patrons of the YA department!


Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics– Part II

An Interview with Lisa Schutt: NPL YA Librarian

Lisa, a former high school teacher, now works at the Teen Desk at the Nashville Main Library. Her bubbly and relaxed personality is extremely welcoming, and the teens there seem sincerely interested and comfortable in chatting with her and participating in craft time.

On November 17, 2011, I had the opportunity to talk with her spontaneously about the library’s current stance on social media and its use in the YA department.

Ironically, Lisa explained the main library had just recently had a meeting about improving its presence online, specifically concerning Facebook and Twitter.

Lisa believes that social media gives librarians more access to patrons and supporters than ever before, especially concerning library philanthropy.

But what about the YA Department?

There is a core group of students that come to the Teen section after school virtually every day; Lisa thinks that using social media would be a great tool for “keeping up” with this core group, but there are some issues.

Time resources are incredibly limited in the  YA department. Lisa explained that the library has a “social media platform,” but it is difficult to find someone who can dedicate his or her time to it.

She asserted that “unless you go into it with a genuineness,” social media isn’t going to be effective.

“Cobwebs”

The current social media situation at the library, specifically with its Teen Web Blog, has been in “cobwebs,” according to Lisa.

However, there is work being done to correct this, as the blog has become active again.

What are the kids into these days?

With a variety of socioeconomic classes represented in the YA department in downtown Nashville, teen social media usage here is probably an accurate description of the online engagement of teens ages 12 to 18.

Lisa hears a lot of chatter about Facebook from the teens and a little about Myspace as well.

“Twitter? Not so much,” she said.

Surprising? I thought so too. [More about Twitter in Part IV]

The Wonder of Facebook

For the YA Department of NPL, Lisa believes that Facebook is and will be the most useful. From events to funny blurbs and inside jokes, Facebook offers the best possible connection to the teens at the library.

However, this is not the PERSONAL Facebook account of any of the librarians; Lisa, as well as others, want to keep personal life separate from work.

The open communication with Facebook events could potentially increase event attendance as well; according to Lisa, if the teens get to see that their friends are “attending,” the programs will become “less scary.”

Learning from Lisa

The library has a platform for social media, which is a great start, but more importantly, it should be implemented.

The limitation in implementation? Time resources. This seems to be the biggest problem for in social media strategy– time commitment.

What’s Next?

Part III will reflect a very different view of social media and the YA Department of the library through an interview with James McClanahan, Teen Program Coordinator.


Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics—Part I

How is the Nashville Library’s YA Department functioning now?

One of the most important aspects of social media analysis is research; this is where my investigation began. Currently, the YA department of the NPL does hold accounts in the social media world.

On the welcome desk in the teen section, the librarians openly give out these little cards (pictured) with all of the YA social media information on them.

According to the web addresses on the card, the YA department should be keeping up a Myspace, Facebook page, Flickr, and blog.

Twitter is surprisingly absent.

[As a side note, this card looks strangely similar to, if not exactly the same as, those given out around 2007.]

So here’s a basic snapshot of the YA section’s current social media:

1. Where’s Twitter?

Currently, the NPL YA Department does not have its own twitter account. 

NPL itself has an account, but the YA department seems absent. After looking through these tweets, there doesn’t seem to be engagement with the teen age group either.

[The interview with James in Part 3 will shed more light on this problem.]

2. What’s up, Myspace? Is it 2002?

The social media info card lists Myspace first; this, I must say, is a tad disappointing. Are teens still using this site?

Regardless, when visiting the page, we get this:

I’ve checked out this web address routinely for the past two weeks, and unfortunately, there’s not much to talk about.

3. Good effort, Facebook!

With 160 “likes” on the NPL Teen Facebook page, the librarians that keep it up are doing a pretty good job! It is updated fairly often and utilized for contests as well.

[They’re using Hootsuite also! Kudos!]

4. Forgetting about Flickr?

The last photos to be uploaded to this account on Flickr are from October of 2009.

There is some great content there, but if it’s stagnant or obsolete, why advertise it on the cards?

5. Blooming Blog

NPL’s Teen Blog seems like the main focus of the YA Department’s Social Media energy.

According to the web page, NPL YA librarians from across Middle TN contribute to writing YA book reviews for the blog.

This is also an opportunity for teens to submit their own reviews for an opportunity to be published, but they don’t get very many submissions.

Is this because the teens don’t know about it or because of lack of interest?


Summing Up the Current Situation:

The YA department is doing some things right, but there is obvious room for improvement; the library is an incredible tool that needs to connect with this generation of social media junkies.

What’s happening next?

The YA department in Nashville does have some plans, but they also have some opinions on the use of social media.

[Part II and III will give some insight into the minds of the YA librarians!]


Where’s the engagement, Cheekwood?

Let me preface this post by saying that I am a great fan of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art; however, after auditing the organization’s social media “buzz” and online presence for a few weeks, I am somewhat shocked!

For an organization that relies on donations and community support, Cheekwood’s engagement with the online public leaves much to be desired.

Although Cheekwood keeps up a Twitter account and Facebook page, they tend to broadcast rather than interact.

Regardless of the positive or negative feedback, there was not much of a response from the organization. As far as monitoring goes, I question Cheekwood’s attention to its online audience.

As of November 20, 2011, Cheekwood’s Klout score is 36, which I realize isn’t the most reliable analysis (Cheekwood has yet to actually sign up with Klout); regardless, this score seems insufficient for an organization that relies on the public.

Cheekwood’s website doesn’t even allow for public comments; the “Critic’s Corner” there is simply a collection of “favorite” comments. This lack of engagement and interaction cuts off feedback lines.

Within this time period that I monitored, news releases and twitter chatter discussed Cheekwood’s monetary problems and price increases. The organization itself has yet to actually release anything about it on its website, nor are there updated public financial records, the last update being from 2008.

Cheekwood is a beautiful, local organization that deserves public support and positive publicity, but without proper online interaction, the only engagement Cheekwood has is the engagement photography opportunities in the gardens.

Full Report: Social Media Audit Cheekwood

Cheekwood Audit Appendix