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! 


While writing social media policies can be challenging, we all know how important it is to have the policy to refer to when issues arise. If you do not have a social media policy yet, I strongly suggest drafting one. It is useful to have a social policy to outline the reasons why you might need to delete a user comment, take down content, or not reply to a direct message on Twitter at midnight. You will find below a few suggestions for things to consider when drafting a policy, and more specific sections you should consider including. 

Draft policy sections for consideration: Purpose and scope of your policy: This section is a good place to include the mission statement for your library, links to any supplemental documents that your accounts may be beholden to by your organization (like a University-wide style guide or brand identity standards), as well as what the policies of the document detail (ex. “These policies detail the conduct that allows patrons of the University Libraries to engage with our social media accounts as a designated public forum...”). Be clear that these policies only relate to your library’s social media accounts and, if you can, provide a link to where other library policies can be found. 

Engagement: In this section, be sure to include when your accounts are monitored so it is clear to users when they can expect answers to direct messages or comments. If you do not answer questions when the library is closed, during holidays, or evenings/weekends make sure to explicitly say that. If your library uses its social media accounts as an extension of your reference services (answering reference and research questions via comments or direct messages), you may want to include links to your reference department’s policies and/or RUSA’s Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Services Providers. Including a line like “Library faculty or staff will respond to questions and messages publicly within the platform when possible and privately as appropriate,” may also be a nice touch if you are answering such questions on your social accounts. 

Patron conduct: I believe this is one of the most essential pieces of a social media policy. Here is where you state your accepted community standards. These are the guidelines that you not only set for individuals interacting with your accounts but how your account will interact with individuals. Be sure to include behaviors that are acceptable (i.e., “interact courteously with other users and library staff, as one would in-building") and behaviors that are not acceptable (i.e. spamming, personal attacks/threats, hate speech, etc.). Follow up the list of unacceptable behaviors with what will happen if an individual does not comply with the guidelines (will they be blocked, comments removed, etc.). 
Content removal policies: I like including a section like this because it touches on Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable intellectual property laws. This section can outline the steps you would take if someone requested a takedown. 

Note on separation of accounts: This section is nice to include as an acknowledgment that your faculty, staff, etc. of your library may have personal accounts and your library acknowledges the difference between what is a professional account and a personal one. An example of what this section could look like - “We acknowledge that staff and faculty members of the University Libraries may possess their own personal social media accounts. The University Libraries make a distinction between personal and professional accounts. The views expressed by the personal accounts of University Libraries’ employees do not represent the views of the University Libraries or of the University at Albany, SUNY.” 
The above is not an exhaustive list of what you could include, just some of the key things to consider when drafting your policy. Make your policy work for your library and its users. 

Another important thing to keep in mind - make sure that your policy lives in a place where users of your social media accounts can locate it, whether that be a policy library on your website or linked right in the bio of your social accounts. If you feel like your policy has more internal information for account managers, feel free to create two different versions of the policy – one for internal use and one for external use that excludes the internal operations policies. 

Remember that no policy should be immortal. Revisit your social media policies annually to make sure that what you have still fits best practices for the social media accounts that your library manages. 


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.