Friday, November 10, 2017

5 Myths of Facebook that Libraries Should Know

Over the years, we've posted about how to use Facebook pages for libraries. There are so many new ways to increase your reach and build up your followers and we've been covering these from time to time. However, as the years go by, I'm realizing that there are 5 persistent myths that people keep believing.. Myths that instantly hurt library Facebook pages before they even have a chance to reach their full potential. Today, we're going to tackle each one:

1. Libraries should ONLY post about themselves.

FALSE. Facebook is a social network, it isn't a bulletin board. You HAVE TO POST posts that will get engagement (likes, shares, clicks, or a comment). If you keep posting work only things that don't get a good response, it hurts your current post AND future posts. So, adding entertainment/fluff posts (posts that are on the common values between your library and your patrons: articles on reading, bookworm problems, fun book questions, new book info, etc. ) is NECESSARY for a successful library page. (For more information, check out The Facebook Algorithm Explained for Marketers)

2. You can treat a Facebook Page like you do your Facebook Personal Account

FALSE. A Facebook personal account (where you, as a person, connect with other individuals) is NOT the same as a Facebook Page (a business account). In the order of importance, Facebook puts personal accounts higher up the food chain. People want to know what's going on with their family and friends BEFORE they learn about local businesses and Facebook acknowledges this. So, they only show a small percentage of pages to the user. If the user doesn't interact with your page, Facebook will show them less and then less of your posts. That doesn't happen when you post on your personal account. BIG DIFFERENCE. So, whatever you post needs to be engaging or it doesn't belong on Facebook. (For more info, check out the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm History.)

3. Libraries shouldn't share other posts. They should only post original content from their own library.

FALSE. Facebook likes when you share popular content that received a lot interaction -- it is proven quality content. Think about it: Facebook wants to be the place people go to all the time. If they are finding posts that are boring, they will leave Facebook. But if they keep finding stuff that makes them respond, over and over again, they will keep coming back. So, use this knowledge and follow big pages. Share those posts that are connected to the same values that libraries share with patrons. Enjoy the bump in reach (Facebook will naturally show it to more people than your original post) and know that your future posts will do better --- especially the ones which are specific to just your library. (For more info, check out How Facebook News Feed Works and Facebook Has 50 Minutes of Your Time. It Wants More.)

Bonus: Not sure what pages you can share from? Here's a starter list for you:

4. You can post anything on Facebook.

FALSE. You should filter everything through the lens of: Will this get a response from my patrons? Will they like it, comment on it, share it? If the answer is an obvious no, then it does not belong on Facebook. A good example is library programming. If the program is specific to a small range of people (ESL learners, parents of toddlers who are available Monday mornings, etc.) then a post about the event is already at a disadvantage. Why would anyone outside of this small range of people respond to your post? You need to find a way to frame it so it appeals to the general mass of people. Maybe you can post an adorable picture of a boy reading to a dog and causally mention this is a weekly program. Then anyone can "heart" the photo because it tugged on their heartstrings. (For more info, check out: 26 Tips for Better Facebook Page Engagement)

5. You can use Facebook like you would an emailed newsletter.

FALSE. Unlike a newsletter that you can email to patrons whenever you want and it'll reach it's intended audience, Facebook doesn't work that way. The less you post, the less people will see your posts. So, monthly posts, or even weekly posts won't cut it on Facebook. You need to post daily, twice a day if you can, to keep your reach at a respectable number. And you'll need to experiment to see what times work best for reactions and what content most of your followers enjoy. Keep experimenting until your organic reach (unpaid) is consistently at 100 people or more. (For more info, check out: How Often Should I Post to My Facebook Page?)

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more about libraries and social media? WebJunction and TechSoup for Libraries is currently running a webinar series on this exact topic! I had the honor of presenting in Part 1 about Getting Started with Social Media for Your Library which will be archived. Two more are coming up soon that you can register for (and for free!): I highly recommend checking them out and learning about social media analytics (Nov. 30th, 2017) and growing your social media platform and engagement (Dec. 19th, 2017).

You can also visit these websites for more information about using Facebook Pages:

Library Resources
TechSoup for Libraries
Libraries & Social Media (Facebook Group)

Small Businesses/Nonprofits Resources (which, hey, have the same resources as libraries and hence their tips are also relevant to libraries)
Mari Smith, the Queen of Facebook
Social Media Examiner (They also have a podcast and a weekly live video show)
Social Media Today (Free webinars!)

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