Social networking technologies provide an opportunity for people to actively participate and share content online (Miller, 2005). This can be through a variety of platforms. Learning to use the bookmarking service ‘Delicious’ demonstrated the participatory nature of this site and the many functions it provides to share and collaborate with others in a common goal of finding and organising useful resources. The ability to tag and combine items into tag bundles is a very helpful function as it allows ‘like’ items to be collected together that can easily be retrieved for later use. This service provides support for the educational and informational needs of a variety of organisations, workgroups and communities examples of which include schools, businesses and groups that share common interests. ‘Delicious’ works smart (Miller, 2005) to intuitively deliver content that may be of interest based on what has been linked previously. Librarians’ who are able to effectively demonstrate the use of ‘Delicious’ as well as the functionality of other social networking technologies to their patrons provide a valuable service (Miller, 2005) and are able to revitalize the way they serve and interact with customers (Casey & Savastinuk, 2005). Librarians have a role in teaching others about ‘tools to manage information’ (Kern & Cuiying, 2011, p. 92).
In evaluating the use of YouTube by the Arizona State University Library it is evident that they are leading the way in showing other libraries how they can make use of social networking technologies to promote their services, provide guidance and information, and increase their presence in an online environment. Their use of YouTube as a platform for reaching out to the community and interacting is inspirational as they try to entertain and ‘engage quickly’ (Chapman, 2009), whilst still providing information that is useful to their audience. Within seconds the purpose of the videos is demonstrated (Chapman, 2009). Rather than wait for their patrons to interact with them they are creating content that is available in a medium readily used by their patrons. The language used to communicate in their YouTube videos is conversational and uses quotes and clips that create a connection with their audience increasing their popularity (Schrier, 2011). Arizona State University Library is using social media to ‘advertise and encourage’ (Schrier, 2011) the use of their services to good effect.
In using social networking technologies the importance of creating a social media policy for the organisation is an important process that sets the tone and behaviour of those involved. It should be a ‘simple, clearly written document’ (Schrier, 2011) that is agreed to by staff. Creating the policy should be a collaborative effort and consider the various issues that may impact on the organisation when using social networking sites. When interacting on social networking platforms there can be a relaxing of standards as people interact in an informal manner and when social networking is used in a professional capacity problems can arise when boundaries are crossed (Lauby, 2009). The policy should consider providing guidance in the conduct of staff (Lauby, 2009) to minimise any misunderstanding. Organisations using social networking platforms should practise transparency in their online interactions to foster a positive relationship with their patrons (Lauby, 2009). Rules about copyright and fair use as well as protecting confidential and proprietary information are ethical issues for organisations (Meyer, as cited in Lauby, 2009) and breaching these legal obligations can lead to civil lawsuits (Meyer, as cited in Lauby, 2009). How the organisation will respond to a variety of situations is best considered before the event to ensure protocol is followed (Fleet, 2009). Once a social media policy is created it needs to be available to all staff regardless of their involvement on the organisiation social networking sites. This is necessary to create a culture of cooperation and support for the agreed policy inclusions. Even though some staff may not be involved in working on the organisation social networking sites it is likely that they may use social networking sites for their personal use and it is beneficial to all staff to be aware of organisational protocols in relation to social network site usage.
Casey, M. & Savastinuk, L. (2006). Library 2.0: Service for the next-generation library, Library Journal, 1 September. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2010/05/technology/library-2-0/
Chapman, C. (2009). Social network design: Examples and best practices. Smashing magazine, (13 July). Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/07/13/social-network-design-examples-and-best-practices/
Fleet, D. (2009). Social media policies: an introduction.
Kern, M. K., & Cuiying, M. (2011). The impact of new technologies on current awareness tools in academic libraries. Reference and user services quarterly, 51(2), 92-97.
Lauby, S. (2009). 10 Must-Haves for your social media policy, Mashable, 6 February, [blog] Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/
Lauby, S. (2009). Should your company have a social media policy? Mashable, 27 April [blog] Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/04/27/social-media-policy/
Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library, Ariadne, 45, 30 October. Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller
Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital librarianship and social media: the digital library as conversation facilitator, D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8) July/August 2011. Retrieved from http://dlib.org/dlib/july11/schrier/07schrier.html