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How to set better library social media goals

What are your library’s social media goals?

At first glance, the answer to that question might not seem all that difficult.  And, if I ask you (or other library staff) this question, you might come back with answers like these:

  • “Increase program attendance”
  • “Get circ stats up”
  • “Make people aware of the library”

Those are fairly typical for what I often hear. But, what if I told you these were wrong?

Here’s the problem: these kinds of responses don’t account for the library’s goals.  Many times, these common social media goals are set independently from any consideration of what the library is actually trying to achieve. Sure, increased attendance and circulation are great, but I doubt any library’s strategic plan ever said anything that broad in scope.  Rather, a strategic plan will usually focus on a target audience. Perhaps that’s local entrepreneurs, immigrants, time-challenged students or new parents.  Even public libraries, which arguably have the most diverse available audiences, don’t try to focus on everyone, every year. That’s one of the reasons the strategic plan exists; to narrow down what the library is aiming for, in a given period.

The strategic plan of a library should drive planning…and goal setting. If your library has documented that it’s going to be focusing on teaching life and job skills to its community, social media should support that goal. Increased attendance at job skill programs is a byproduct or, perhaps, a measurement of, helping the community. But it’s not the actual goal the library is striving for. See the difference?

So, what might a good social media goal, for a library, look like? Actually, not too far off from where we started, but with the important addition of some information. Let’s pretend that we’re planning for a fictional public library. This year, one of the items the strategic plan is focused on is services to local entrepreneurs. How about something like these:

  • “Increase “Start Your Own Business” program attendance by 15% in 2017.”
  • “Increase use of the library’s business collection by 10% in 2017.”
  • “Increase awareness of the library’s services to entrepreneurs in 2017.” (Perhaps measured by surveys?)

With goals like these, you’ll know if your library’s social media efforts are getting the job done (or not).  Simply by narrowing and defining the scope, your library’s social media goals can become much more effective and, measurable.

Easy steps to improve your library’s social media goals:

  1. Study your library’s strategic plan. Which goals will the library’s social media support?
  2. Go ahead and use common goals like increasing program attendance…but which kind of programs? By how much? For what duration?

What do you think? What would you change? Let me know in the comments!