Lesson 6: Social media policies and assessment

This week’s readings recalled the foundations laid in LIS 9005 library management course. The course emphasized the need for a vision, a point on the horizon to steer toward, with supporting foundational principles and policies to guide the organizational ship. This common sense management approach is problematic when applied to social media. As stated in Kroski’s article, social media is new and evolving, or a moving target (2009). I believe this shifting target makes firm and inflexible policies inappropriate for the media. Also in this week’s readings a number of social media management issues were raised such as the blurred lines between professional and private, the importance of a social media employee education program, and the need for planning and policies to address the specific and unique nature of social media.

Blurred Boundaries    

   In my experience the fuzzy lines between professional/work related and private have always existed. I have often been asked and answered library related questions while out in public. These exchanges have now migrated to social media and have become much more indelible, visible and reaching. These blurred boundaries between private and public are evident in the social media postings of my own co workers and have enormous potential for good or ill will. It does behove management to provide some guidance for appropriate social media conduct in professional and private applications that discuss or post library related content.


 Education may be the single best means to assist and improve social media skills of employees to the benefit of library organization and the library profession. Employees acquainted with tools and cultures of social media have the potential for enormous goodwill. Swallow’s article How To: Build A Social Media Education Program For Your Company  presented sound advice and compelling reasons for building a social media education program. Anyone using the media to represent the library should understand the best approach, nuance, and culture of each platform to avoid embarrassing, ill will gaffs. Swallow’s suggestions to bench mark employees, house resources in house for employee access, provide e-learning and hands on training are excellent practical suggestions. But the benefits of buy-in and social media skilled people that are enthusiastic supporters of the library which could be capitalized upon for library promotion, I believe is the most compelling reason to initiate a social media education program.

Planning and Policy

Kroski’s article  Should Your Library Have A Social Media Policy  read like a playground list of do’s and don’t’s that spell out appropriate conduct:  “ Use a disclaimer, don’t share secrets, be yourself, respect copyright, respect your colleagues, avoid on line fights, post accurate information, use good judgement, provide value, accept responsibility.” (2009).  In my internet browsing I came across a simple social media policy I find exceptional in its clarity, simplicity and tone written by Susan Brown (2012) and posted to her Web blog titled Inform, Engage, Listen and Respond.  This Lawrence Public Library policy hits the balance between freedom and clear guidance, the policy spells out what it wants and not what it doesn’t want engendering the principles of social media technologies, freedom, positivity, and flexibility to adapt to the ever changing media and does so in one page, with 4 subheadings each with 4 point. According to the author, the policy, while simple, has been very successful. Below are the guiding principles from the Lawrence Public Library written by Brown outlining the expectations for library communication in social media (2012).


OUR TONE – How will we say it?

– We will be honest and authentic, not snarky or sarcastic
– We will be respectful to all commenters, positive and negative
– We will say please and thank you
– We will not post anything on social media that we would not say at a service desk



Brown, S. (2012, December 7). Inform, Engage, Listen Respond. In 658.8 Practical Marketing For Libraries. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://658point8.com/2012/12/07/social-media-strategy/

Kroski, E.  (2009). Should Your Library Have a Social Media Policy?  School Library Journal, (Issue 10).  Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6699104.html       

Swallow, E. (2011, January 18).  HOW TO: Build a Social Media Education Program for Your Company.  Mashable.  Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/01/18/social-media-training/     


One thought on “Lesson 6: Social media policies and assessment

  1. I think your posting is very interesting, and very useful. Social Media is a “moving target”. You know, I thought of something else in relation to your comment on my blog. It is great when organizations create these really useful policies such as the one for Lawrence Public Library. However, I think that part of what gets the organization to that point is the “everyone being on board” factor that many of the articles point to. I don’t necessarily mean people supporting the use of social media, but more that there has to be the right organizational culture in place for that kind of policy. Otherwise, I think most places will continue to make policies in the same way they always have. Something we can be aware of when we enter the workforce!

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