Social Media

Inform, Engage, Listen, Respond


At Lawrence Public Library, we have developed a social media presence that is engaging, responsive, locally-focused, and fun. While we post a lot of funny memes, share book-related photos (often cats are involved), and ask goofy questions, there is actually a well thought out strategy behind it.  A strategy that in the past two years has tripled our following on Facebook and Twitter, led to increased engagement on both platforms, and resulted in real, measurable outcomes such as increased partnerships, new programs, and a higher visibility in our community.

When I began coordinating our social media just over two years ago, I realized that we needed a guiding document, but I did not want a lengthy policy piece – something that detailed exactly what can and cannot be said on social media, who can and cannot say it, or full of language that might stifle creativity or seem too corporate in tone.

What I did want was something that would outline who we wanted to be on social media, what we wanted to do, and lay out some basic rules of engagement.  I also wanted it to be short!  Here the text of the one-page document that developed: 


OUR PURPOSE – Why do we do social media?  What is our goal?

– To inform and engage our community
– To listen to and respond to our customers
– To market our services, programs, and collections
– To position ourselves as a knowledge leader and essential destination on the Lawrence social media network

OUR STRATEGY – How will we work toward our goals?

– Promote our community and partner organizations
– Start conversations with our users by asking questions and gathering opinions
– Participate in conversations happening in the community
– Actively listen to what customers are saying and respond appropriately
– Build relationships by passing along content of others – community partners, local bloggers, etc.
– Promote our events, collections, and services

OUR CONTENT – What will we say?

– News & events (Lawrence events, book and pop culture news)
– Information about collections, services, new features, etc.
– Original content (Reviews, recommendations, etc.)
– Pass along relevant content of others (Link to local blogs, retweet others, etc.)
– Cross promote our own social media channels (Tweet about new blog post, etc)
– Responses to questions and comments

OUR TONE – How will we say it?

– We will be honest and authentic, not snarky or sarcastic
– We will be respectful to all commenters, positive and negative
– We will say please and thank you
– We will not post anything on social media that we would not say at a service desk

That’s it! When a new Social Media Team member comes on board, I review this with them and then turn them loose. This approach requires a certain level of trust, but it has not steered us wrong. It also helps that I recruit staff who are already somewhat engaged in social media in their personal lives.

Two things I’ll highlight in this document – 1. I purposefully did not call it a policy, instead it reflects our  principles.  Instead of a top-down, bureaucratic tone, this helps engender the idea that we are all working toward a shared goal with a shared vision 2. The final bullet point – We will not post anything on social media that we would not say at a service desk. – has served us well.  We do some edgy things on social media, but the “service desk” test has developed has a great way to check ourselves and make sure that we aren’t going over the edge.

7 thoughts on “Inform, Engage, Listen, Respond”

  1. I read and like the approach which works much better with the creative, outgoing minds of those who usually are the social media go to people vs. the traditional approach which can actually stifle those same minds.

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