Blogger Kaitlin Frick

Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, Oh My!: Making Social Media Work for You

We often think of using social media as a means to share book recommendations and details about upcoming programs/events. These are such natural extensions of library services, so if your system is using social media (hopefully they are), you’re probably already generating this type of content. But what do you do when your feed starts to feel like the same-old posts on repeat? And what less conventional uses of these tools could your library possibly benefit from?

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I wouldn’t by any means argue that I’m a social media expert. But, as the primary administrator of and (99.9% of the time) sole contributor to both my library’s Facebook and Instagram feeds, I do spend quite a bit of time thinking about how to maximize our return on these platforms. So today I’d like to share some ways in which I’ve used social media (primarily Instagram) to highlight my library’s collections and services, provide tools for parents and caregivers, and reach patrons who may not be able to physically access the library on a regular basis.

Social media can function as a means to highlight lesser-known resources and services available at your library. A lot of libraries, including NYPL’s main Instagram account, share posts on archival materials, for instance. From the perspective of a neighborhood branch, I’ve shared information through our social media platforms about: the various services offered at each of our desks in the branch; play kits, puzzles, and costumes available for families to borrow and use inside the library; naturalization resources available in our New Americans Corner; the great databases patrons can access with their library cards; and more.

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Another great use I’ve found for social media is sharing information with caregivers. Every Monday (with a few exceptions for holidays and illnesses), I post a new early literacy tip to 53rd Street’s Instagram account – a couple of which you can see below. In addition to these posts, about twice a month I upload a video featuring a world language children’s song we sing at the library. (If you’d like to learn more about these songs, check out this ALSC post I wrote last year.) This recurring content is often the most popular on our account.

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But one of my favorite social media tools is the Instagram Live feature, which I use on occasion to host Storytime Live Saturdays. Typically, these storytimes feature a few songs and one of the books read during Family Storytime that morning. The idea behind this content is that families who can’t make it into the library still get a bit of the storytime experience at home. An important detail when doing this is to ensure live recordings remain available in your stories for 24 hours. This ensures families who can’t be present for the live storytime can still access the content.

Instagram Live and Instagram stories can be used in a variety of other ways as well. Some accounts offer patrons the chance to seek readers’ advisory via the “Questions” feature, something I’ve been interested in trying. In addition, I recently participated in an Instagram Live celebration of National Poetry Month, where staff members across NYPL’s system shared excerpts of some of their favorite poetry books (all available through the circulating collection). Shout-out to Crystal Chen, NYPL Young Adult Librarian extraordinaire, for coming up with and coordinating that project.

This is obviously just a sampling of the innovative ways you can make social media tools work for you. Want to see even more examples of how I and other libraries are utilizing social media? Check out 53rd Street’s Instagram and Facebook, as well as these Insta accounts I love to stalk:

applebylibrary (Their #pantonebookchallenge posts are to die for.)

bibliotecasestofiorentino (Beautifully-curated feed showcasing goings-on at La biblioteca di Sesto Fiorentino.)

houstonpubliclibrary (Their #Dinovember posts highlighted branches across the system and were hilarious to follow for the month.)

ice_cream_books (Not a library, but seriously creative reading recommendation photos.)

kingcountylibrary (Love their #bookstagram posts.)

kweli.journal (Again, not a library, but if you want to try highlighting people and/or their work, Kweli has amazing content.)

mcplindianateen (Great examples of showcasing patron creations.)

osceolalib (Is it wrong to say I just like seeing what their library pet, Mr. Licky, is up to?)

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services, III. Programming Skills, and V. Outreach and Advocacy

One comment

  1. Jan Connell

    Please see the following opinion article ( and past reporting by authoritative sources on Facebook’s practices):

    We need a discussion of the library’s use of social media and its mission of supporting digital literacy. Why are we so willing to compromise our own standards? Clicks? Likes? Come on.

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