Want to Engage? Just Ask!

En/gage: a) to hold the attention of: <her work engages her completely> b) to induce to participate: <engaged the shy boy in conversation>            

If you are using social media to simply broadcast information about programs and events, you’re missing a huge opportunity to hold the attention of your community and to induce their participation. Social media is all about engagement. Via Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms you can speak directly to your community, start public conversations, and build relationships. 

You’ve probably heard this all before and thought, “That sounds good, but I have no idea where to start!”  One of the easiest ways to move from broadcasting to engaging is by asking questions.  On my library’s Facebook page, this is one of the most popular types of posts and leads to some of the best and most engaging conversations.

Book-related questions tend to get the most responses:

  • What are you reading?  We ask this every Sunday. The local paper also has it as their Sunday question of the week on the op/ed page.
  • What’s the ___________ book you’ve ever read?  For Valentine’s, we’ll drop in “most romantic,” for Halloween, it’s “scariest.”  You could also try longest, funniest, most challenging, etc.
  • What books are on your bedside table?
  • What is your book club reading this month?
  • What are your kiddoes reading and loving right now?
  • If you had to read one book ten times, what would it be?
  • Did you find any great stuff at the Friends of the Library Book Sale?  Do tell!
  • If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

We go beyond books, too:

  • Oscars are tonight, what’s your pick for best pic?
  • Calling all Masterpiece Theatre junkies!  What’s your all-time favorite Masterpiece production?
  • Ralphie or Rudolph?  What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

We get personal:

  • What’s the best library program you’ve ever attended?
  • What’s the best “hidden gem” you’ve ever found in our collections?
  • There’s lots going on around town this weekend!  What are your plans?

Our audience loves participating in these conversations, and I bet yours will, too.  Don’t forget to monitor the conversation once it has started – often people will slip in questions or comments that need a response.  In response to a recent question, a reader mentioned a favorite book of theirs that had been placed in “missing” status in our catalog.  Via the Facebook conversation, we were made aware of the issue, alerted our collection development department, and then responded via Facebook to that patron with a “Thanks for the heads up about this book – a new copy has been ordered and will be back on shelves soon.”

In this case, our Facebook follower got our attention and induced us to participate, and all of our followers saw that we are truly engaged.

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One Response to Want to Engage? Just Ask!

  1. This is a great entry and very helpful for fellow librarians wanting to include social media. Thanks for the great advice!

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