Monday was my last day at #ALAAC2022, and I started it with a really informative presentation about using TikTok in your library. When the pandemic first started, I created a TikTok account but never used it. (I am not sure I even remember my login information.) Delving into a new social media platform can sometimes be daunting, so, I was really excited to attend TikTok and Libraries: A Powerful Partnership and to learn how to use TikTok to promote books and my library. Presentations about TikTok seem to be just as popular as the social media platform itself—it was a packed house in the Convention Center!
While I had seen #Booktoks before, I did not realize that TikTok can also be used for collection development, advocacy, instructional/tutorial videos, and even as a source of professional development. TikTok can also be used for readers advisory for digital displays of books, to show the unboxing new books, to show the top 10 books, and for book reviews. For collection development, it is helpful to use the platform to follow and engage with diverse booktalkers using hashtags such as #diversebooks or #diversifyyourbooks.
As a tool for advocacy, librarians can use TikTok to show how libraries serve communities, to announce programs and upcoming author/illustrator visits, or to tell the library’s story.
But how do you get started? Kelsey Bogan shared some great tips with the audience. Be strategic and intentional. Find out what is trending, and then create your library TikTok video around that. Think about your audience and the message you want to convey. Bogan said that it is helpful to schedule time each week to create media and to watch others’ posts.
One thing that I had not realized was that TikToks can be shared on other social media platforms. So, if you wanted to make a TikTok but have more followers on Instagram, you could make the video on TikTok and then share it on Instagram. (Mind blown!) Bogan also shared a lot of great information about how the TikTok algorithms work. Tik Tok used to only allow 15 second to 3 minute clips. Though TikToks can now be longer, it is a good idea to keep them short because the TikTok algorithm promotes videos based on whether users watch the entire video. So, in some cases, the shorter, the better! (And, when doing a book reveal, leave it until the end!)
TikTok seems to be a great resource for libraries, and it is clearly having an effect on the sale of books. Some older books that get positive hype on TikTok have become bestsellers again. Barnes and Noble even has a section of its website about which books are popular on TikTok. I have been inspired to try out TikTok and hope to make some videos for my library this year!
Maybe next year, I will be TikToking this response rather than blogging it…?!
Guest conference blogger Soline Holmes (she/her/hers) is a librarian and the Library/Technology Department chair at Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana. Soline is excited to be back in person at ALA and is looking forward to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet and ALSC’s Newbery 100 Celebration! on Saturday, June 25. She is a Member-at-Large for ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable. She also serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award committee, is a board member of the New Orleans Information Literacy Collective (2021-22 Chair), and is a Teaching with Primary Sources Network Mentor. She has given presentations on graphic novels, Mother Goose and STEM, Primary Sources, and Global Education at local and national conferences. Soline also co-authored, with Alicia Schwarzenbach, an article about graphic novels as informational texts for Children and Libraries and was interviewed for Book Links about how to best use graphic novels in the classroom. Most recently, she was selected for and honored to participate in ALSC’s Bill Morris seminar.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.