Social Media Use by Law Libraries
What we’ve done…
Over the past few years our library has been working to enhance our presence within our Law School community. We’ve redesigned our website, are working on a new physical and digital marketing campaign with our communications office, and are nearing the completion of a redesign for our online catalog.
As part of this focus on outreach, we decided it was time to join the masses and utilize social media to try and connect more with our users. We could no longer just rely on students visiting our website or using our catalog; we need to actively reach out to them. So, we created a working group to figure out our next steps. (I know, I know, but trust me. Keep reading…)
We met with our Law School communications office last fall and decided that–since they already manage a Law School Twitter and Instagram presence with over 18,000 and 5,000 followers respectively–we would send them content about the library to post on their threads instead of creating library-specific accounts and needing to build our own followers from zero. (We also didn’t think we would have sufficient staff time to spend generating enough content to keep up with our own account.)
We chose a hashtag to use specifically for posts from/about the library (#UMichLawLib) and planned out some things like types of content, date-specific posts, and who was responsible for posting on what days (among many other things).
We created a non-library specific Twitter account so we could utilize lists to group types/sources of content for easier browsing. Our lists include our own faculty members, some legal vendors, other Law Libraries and Law Schools, and legal education and technology sources. There are five of us in the working group, so we each took a weekday to check the twitter lists and skim what was trending on Twitter to get ideas for posts. We also make a point to check what events are going on in the Law School or larger campus community, and often post things after an event for those who couldn’t attend or may be interested in learning more about a given topic (see below examples).
— Michigan Law School (@UMichLaw) February 13, 2018
— Michigan Law School (@UMichLaw) March 8, 2018
— Michigan Law School (@UMichLaw) March 13, 2018
Did you attend yesterday's event with Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director and #umichlaw alum ('89)? Be sure to check out @EFF's impressive list of legal cases #privacymatters #UMichLawLib https://t.co/m4TXNuy7Z8
— Michigan Law School (@UMichLaw) April 5, 2018
We started sending content for Twitter in early February, and since then posts specific to the library have been making a frequent appearance in the Law School’s Twitter feed (averaging 1-2 of our tweets per day since the first post). Date specific posts are being scheduled ahead of time using Hootsuite, and the types of posts vary on a scale from entertaining to informational. We have yet to post on Instagram, but are working on some ideas.
We plan to continue with our current workflow, but also wonder what more we could or should be doing to engage with our users. We’ve heard, only anecdotally, that Twitter is not the place Law Students want to connect with the library, and that the main audience for our Twitter posts is Alumni. We’ve not done a formal poll to confirm this, but we still target most of our posts toward law students and others generally interested in what’s going on in the library.
What are others doing?
Is your library using social media to connect with users / advertise events / other? If so, what are you doing, and what tips or advice would you share with those of us just getting started?
If your library has chosen not to use social media, what are the reasons? (Presumed most common might be staff time or perceived lack of content.)