Social media in schools can be a challenge. Even though social media is a fixture in our students lives, it is not prevalent in many schools. I watch students all day long connecting on social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat or the next new social media fad, they are traversing the world of social media without any guides to help them. As much as many teachers do not feel it is important to incorporate social media in their curriculum, I would disagree. It is increasingly important that we teach and model digital citizenship and what better way to do that than in the classroom.
For the school library, social media can be a great marketing tool to not only share all the great things that are happening in your library. I also love to share:
- recommended books
- book news
- what I’m reading
- technology and research tips
- inspirational quotes
- virtual library information
- entertainment and movie news
How did I get started? Personally I was already on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram so I understood how they worked. My school has an Internet and Computer Use Policy for both students and employees, but there is no specific policy on social media. Students are allowed to have cell/smartphones in school but they are not supposed to be on social media and while our filter is supposed to block it, I’m sure you know how well students figure out ways around filters and monitoring smartphones is extremely difficult. Even with these obstacles I believed it was worth the effort. Students may not to be on it at school, they are accessing it outside of school, plus you can also reach parents, school board members and the community, letting them see the impact you are making in the school.
- First I needed to decide which social media platforms to use. I decided to start with Facebook since that was what I saw students on most of the time. Social media takes a lot of time, and since I didn’t have any help I wanted to focus on one first (I later added Twitter).
- Second I needed to convince my principal that having a Facebook account for the library was a good idea. Even though students aren’t allowed on Facebook in school he thought there was a benefit and approved my request. I think this prompted him to start a Facebook page for the school, which was awesome!
- Once I got our Facebook page up and running I had to get students to actually “like” the page. My library aides were a big help with this as well as students that were regular library visitors. This definitely takes a lot of ongoing work but it’s completely worth it. I think it would be much easier if students were “allowed” to be on social media at school, then I could have students go and “like” the page when I’m working with a class or have posters with QR codes that link to the library virtual resources and social media.
- Next year I would like to let my student library aides help. I think this would be a great opportunity to get them invested and reach more students, but also teach digital citizenship as well as real world job skills. Many companies are embracing social media and providing careers in this growing market (6 Social Media Jobs That Will Be Big in 2014).
Social media is here to stay and it is a great way to connect to students and to market what we do, not only to our students but to parents and the community. Feel free to check out my libraries Facebook and Twitter pages.
Are you using social media in your school library? What are some tips or strategies you have used that have made your social media presence successful?