Column Description: Being a social media manager can be a daunting task. What's trending? Am I up-to-date on what's relevant and cool? How do I create reels? Is TikTok worth it? So many questions with countless answers. Journey with me into Memeland as I share some of the tips and tricks I've picked up along the way to help you survive the task of being a library social media manager. You can be sure there will also be some pit stops along the way to far-off places like Marketing Mountain and Outreach Beach - so buckle up and prepare for an awesome journey!
Twitter. Do we continue to hang on hoping that some semblance of stability returns to the platform? Or do we ditch it and seek out a new platform to engage our communities? These big questions usually pop up when a popular social media platform finds itself in trouble – remember the Cambridge Analytica snafu and Facebook? But these discussions need to be happening in libraries with a social media presence on Twitter.
Why are we talking about Twitter? Elon Musk. If you are not entirely certain what has happened, you can check out the timeline of what has occurred here.
I have listened to and read many discussions on ‘what if’ scenarios since Elon Musk expressed his intent in acquiring Twitter back in April of this year. I think, at the time, we all thought it was a joke, until he acted. We all continued to hold out hope a little longer, after he decided he no longer wanted to purchase the platform, but eventually the law won out and he was forced into completing the purchase and taking over ownership.
Well now ‘what ifs’ are no longer theoretical. In the two months since Musk acquired Twitter, thousands of Twitter employees have been laid off or fired, hate speech on the platform is at an all-time high, and misinformation continues to run rampant. A lot of users have begun to leave the platform, not liking how Musk is steering the ship and the changes that have been implemented. I know our library's account has lost over 20 followers in just two weeks. That is a substantial number for such a short amount of time. It begs the question of whether staying is a worthwhile endeavor, especially if engagement is also low. I have decided that I will wait to see what my University does and then follow along with their guidance. If they feel like all University accounts should leave the platform, then we will. If we lose too many followers before that happens and engagement continues to dwindle, that will probably force our hand to leave earlier. But what happens from there?
Social platforms to explore if you are considering sun-setting Twitter:
Hive Social: This platform describes itself as “a new social platform focusing on the simplicity of social media. Express yourself without the pressure of traditional social media apps.” Hive Social, much like Twitter, focuses on micro-blogging and allows you to have music on your profile, have set color themes, and create polls. This platform is currently available via iOS while Android still is in Beta testing, but at the rate the platform appears to be growing, Android access will probably be fully supported soon. Hive Social reported that as of November 2022 they have reached 1.5 million users since they started in June 2019. Out of the three listed suggestions, Hive Social positions itself in being the most like Twitter but with way more of a creative edge.
Mastodon: This platform is free and open source. It operates via independent servers and positions itself as “radically different social media, back in the hands of the people.” Mastodon promises that users will not be buried in algorithms and will be able to connect better with folks with common interests. I have not explored this one much yet, but it appears like it would be easy to build up a community there - just be sure that your community is already actively using this platform before taking the dive.
Discord: This platform has been around for a while and reminds me a lot of your standard forum community mixed with chat room functionality. Some Libraries have already established themselves on Discord, creating moderated spaces for teens to talk about anime or gaming.
If you do choose to sunset your Twitter account, make sure your last post lets your community know you are leaving and direct them as to where they can connect with you, whether that’s pre-existing social platforms you are already on or a brand new one you decided to create elsewhere. If you have no other social platforms you are a part of, remind your followers of your website presence and any “contact us” forms or directories that may be present there.
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that libraries continue to be in places where our communities can find us and actively engage with us – make sure you are where your users are, but that you also have the bandwidth and know-how to create a space on a new platform, if that is what you end of doing (I cannot stress these points enough). If that means staying on Twitter until the bitter end, so be it. If that means exploring uncharted waters, venture on! As Bob Dylan would say “...for times they are a changin’”.... onwards and upwards!
Amanda M. Lowe is the Outreach and Marketing Librarian at the University at Albany, SUNY. In her role, she serves as a reference librarian and the marketing maven for all three campus libraries. When Amanda is not engaging patrons on social media, you can find her doing all sorts of outreach programming. Her research focuses on library marketing and outreach with a concentration on social media, reference services, and library programming. Amanda has an MLS from the University at Buffalo and a BS in English with a minor in Theatre from Oneonta State College.