Evaluating the marketing success of libraries’ social media presences

MUNDT, Sebastian (2013) Evaluating the marketing success of libraries’ social media presences. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2013 - Singapore - Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities in Session 86 - Management and Marketing.

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Evaluating the marketing success of libraries’ social media presences

For many public services, the development and maintenance of a social media presence is difficult to implement for a number of factors such as lack of staff resources or competence, privacy issues and a general hesitation about the potential benefits of social media. Nevertheless, in the past three years a significant number of libraries have extended their online services to feature various social media tools and technologies. A recent representative survey among German public and academic libraries shows that less than one third of them, however, have developed and implemented social media policies. Further analysis of existing policies, together with specific results from the survey made it obvious that many social media presences are not yet tied to strategic aims and objectives of the library and even less to its funding institution. Consequently, activities are often subject to individual effort, and their contribution to a library’s marketing success remains largely intransparent. Of all social media, Facebook is the platform most libraries subscribe to. Even those libraries who do not use social media for different reasons are widely convinced of its benefits in marketing the library on the web. Facebook is therefore particularly useful for selecting suitable methods to evaluate the marketing success of social media presences. Further discussion made clear that librarians preferred specific, comprehensible, easy‐to‐use measures that are available just‐in‐time, and that a set of key performance indicators would best suit these criteria. A literature study brought up more than thirty different measures which were tested against a selection of libraries. The results were then broadened up to feature other potential services. The paper integrates these findings into a general hierarchy of marketing aims and objectives incorporating social media and proposes a small set of key performance indicators suitable to evaluate their marketing success. The shortened presentation will touch on essential results of this research and focus on the need for a consistent social media marketing strategy.

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