Social Media Policy for Public Libraries–A List of Permissions, not Restrictions!

Below is a Social Media Policy I have created based off numerous examples of Social Media Policies found online.  Please feel free to take, adapt, use and update this policy as need be.

A Social Media Policy for Public Libraries

What is Social Media?

According to the Whitman Public Library’s Social Networking PolicySocial [Media] is defined as any website or application which allows users to share information. Social [Media] can include, but is not limited to, blogging, instant messaging, social networking sites, and wikis. Many social networking sites allow users of those sites to become a “friend”, “fan” or otherwise associate their own “profiles” or virtual presences with the Library’s profile on these sites.”

Examples of Social Media sites include but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger.

What is the Purpose of a Social Media Policy?

This social media policy has been created in order to establish clear guidelines for staff members who are posting on behalf of the organization as well as employees with personal social media accounts. Below are a list of standards that assist in conducting the manner in which our employees should post to our Library’s blog and social networking pages.

As always, when you use social media the personal and professional behavior you display and the content you contribute is not only a reflection of you but also of the Library.  If you are about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it. If you’re still unsure, discuss it with your manager (via Librarian’s Matter blog).

1.  Take Ownership of your work:

  • Be Authentic and Transparent—Include your real name and use a real picture of yourself.  If you are using the site as a representative of the Library, make sure to state that in your post.  When appropriate, offer contact information so that people have the opportunity to follow up with you.
  • Use Good Judgment—Use Social Media as a way to express your opinions, but do so in a tasteful manner.
  • Be Responsible—If you make a mistake, it’s ok to admit it online.  Answer questions and comments as best you can, but if it is outside your area of expertise, take the time to find someone who can help you deliver a quality response.  Also, don’t forget about your day job.  Make sure you are accomplishing the things you need to accomplish as well as your Social Media responsibilities.
  • Be Proud—Did you write a really great blog article, or craft the perfect 140 character Tweet? Share your successes with the Library.  We want to know!

2.  Create Community:

  • Connect—Remember to engage with a wide variety of users, from patrons of the library to librarians in different countries.  Inclusion, not alienation is what we are going for.  Used open ended questions and comments to encourage two-way conversation.  Find ways to “friend” and “follow” other users, libraries, groups, etc. Post on and respond to other blogs, forums and profiles.  Be vocal and active and appropriate.  Have fun, but be safe.

3.  Deliver Value:

  • Show Off–Everyone who works in the Library has special skills and talents.  Let your creativity flow and use Social Media as a way to highlight your specialties.
  • Participate–Don’t just watch—participate!  Social media is about consuming and contributing.  Make your posts relevant and interesting.  Ask questions, answer questions and question questions.  Remember to use spell check and proofread your work before submitting in order to maintain a level of professionalism.

4.  Experiment:

  • Keep Lookout—Allow yourself to stay informed of the newest technologies out there by following blogs or listening to podcasts.  Always suggest new Social Media platforms to sign up for by contacting the appropriate department.
  • Have fun—Sign up for these sites for yourself (under your own name) and have fun experimenting with their capabilities on your own time.  Report what you have learned and offer suggestions for implementation in our Library.  Remember to exercise professionalism when posting on your personal sites—mentioning secrets of the Library, or speaking about your work(place) in a derogatory manner is not cool and could result in consequences that are less than desirable

This list is not complete by any means.  It is a living, breathing document that can be changed at anytime, by anyone.  If you have suggestions, questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to let Management know and we will find a way to work your ideas into this document.  One final word of advice:  when browsing, sharing, posting, commenting, and exploring Social Media sites, have fun and use common sense.

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