Back in June at PhillyDH@Penn, I presented a workshop called “Social Media Tech Tools,” which provided a show-and-tell of six different social media tools that we use here at WIC and some tips about using social media to engage our audiences. The workshop took place in Van Pelt Library’s new Collaborative Classroom, which encourages flipped classroom and active learning methods via the room setup and technology. The room is also conducive to socializing as folks are collaborating and moving around the room, making it an ideal space to discuss social media.
One PhillyDH@Penn attendee, Pam Harris, Head of Reference at Swarthmore College Libraries, came to my workshop and thought it would be great for her staff members to take a summer field trip to Penn Libraries, see the Collaborative Classroom, and learn more about using social media effectively. So, this week, we did just that! We opened the workshop to Penn Libraries staff members as well, so that we could do some cross-institution sharing and socializing while discussing social media. Pam and seven of her staff members ventured out to Van Pelt Library, and we had a great time talking about social media tools. We kicked off the workshop with a bit of pre-workshop homework – a quiz called “Can You Tell What Makes a Good Tweet?” posted recently in the New York Times. The quiz encouraged us to ask and discuss the following questions: What makes an effective tweet? How can we create more content-heavy tweets without overwhelming our audiences? How can we better reach our respective audiences via creative content using various social media platforms?
While my presentation focused on specific examples of how we use social media at WIC, the floor opened up to examples of how Swarthmore Libraries and Penn Libraries staff members use social media for different purposes. We then did some structured “playing” with various tools; we rotated around the classroom tables every 5 minutes (enforced by the infamous Penn Libraries gong!), working on collaborative activities: using the world map on Flickr; testing new features in Instagram; creating a library spaces board on Pinterest; creating a story of choice on Storify; and using Mentionmapp with Twitter. Each group was very engaged and learned new things from each other by working through the activities.
(From left: Terry Heinrichs, Annette Newman, and Jessica Brangiel, Swarthmore Libraries)
(Mindy Weinberg and Manuel De La Cruz Gutierrez, Penn Libraries)
One lesson learned in the workshop is that social media is ever-changing. Even if your library or organization has a social media management system in place, platforms change and new features are added, which makes it hard to keep up with handling various accounts. We discussed that instead of joining every social media platform out there, it’s best for an organization to pick a few and devote time and resources to them. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, and one takeaway from the workshop was clear: we all struggle with strategies for handling social media in one way or another. If we have the attitude that we’re all in this together, we can learn from each other to figure out which tools and strategies work best for creating interesting content and reaching our target audiences.