I love to follow libraries on social media. I like, share, and comment on library posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. But most of the time, I must go searching for library content on social media. I’m rarely served library social media posts organically by the platforms. Why is this happening? 

Blame the social media algorithms. An algorithm is a way of sorting posts in a user's feed based on relevancy. There is so much content out there in the world that platforms started using algorithms to weed out irrelevant content.  

Most platforms keep the exact details of their algorithm as closely guarded secrets. But we know that they use data science to assign importance to certain actions. These secret factors are often called ranking signals. Every social media platform uses different ranking signals to determine which posts to show to people. The goal is to keep people using the platform by showing them the posts that the platform believes will cause the biggest reaction. 

Algorithms make social media success tricky for most libraries. Every library is fighting a battle for attention on social media. And often, this work leaves libraries feeling frustrated and defeated. Don’t give up! Your library can reach cardholders and non-cardholders alike if you know how to work with the algorithms. Here are three tips to help you succeed on social. 

Tip #1: Plan ahead. The more consistent your social media posts are on any platform, the more organic reach you’ll get. An editorial calendar will help you to think strategically about what you want to post, so you’re promoting your library and working within the algorithms. The NoveList Idea Calendar is a great place to start. It’s free and chock full of ideas for promoting your collection, services, and events. We release a new one each month, but they can be used year-round. And LibraryAware customers can easily schedule posts directly from the editor weeks or months in advance. That saves you time and ensures your posting schedule remains consistent.

Tip #2: Make your feed valuable. Your library can share blog posts, infographics, case studies, and interesting posts created by other organizations. This practice is called curating content. In simple terms, your library looks for content created by others that your audience will find important or useful. This approach adds value for your available social media audiences while saving you time. Brazoria County Library System does this by sharing posts from vendors, publishers, authors, and celebrity book club pages. They add a line about how to find the items in the post in their catalog and voila! They’re done! Longmont Library uses the same technique on Twitter. They share content that is informative and educational, even when it doesn’t have a direct connection to a current library service or collection item, because they know information makes their Twitter feed valuable to their followers. 

Tip #3: Prioritize comments. Every social media platform values comments as a sign of rich engagement by users. You can boost the organic reach of all your posts by encouraging people to comment. Poll your audience frequently, ask for reading recommendations, or just ask a question about something related to reading, like Caldwell County Public Library did in this Facebook post

Register today: Want to dive deeper into social media success and really get a handle on the algorithms? On Thursday, July 28 at 2 pm ET you can be part of the Learn with NoveList course called Smart Social Media for Libraries: How to Work With the Algorithms to Reach Your Community. In this two-hour, in-depth live course, you’ll learn the latest best practices for posting on major social media platforms. This session includes plenty of activities, interactive elements, discussion, and an opportunity to ask questions and resources to help make your library social media work successful. If you have any role in social media at your library, and you want to start driving engagement with your library in a real, meaningful way, this session is a must. Purchase your seat now. I hope to see you there! 

Smart Social Media for Libraries

Live session on Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 2 pm ET 

Angela Hursh is a Senior Engagement Consultant for NoveList. She is currently reading The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and listening to Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.