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How Libraries Use Social Media

Eighty-one percent of Americans have social media accounts, and that number is expected to grow each year. Nearly all brands have a social presence, and libraries are no different. Libraries are using social platforms now more than ever before.

The New York Public Library has 2.2 million followers on Twitter, more followers than the celebrity Kathy Griffin. Social media is playing a significant role in helping libraries stay relevant in our ever-growing digital society.

TechSoup recently teamed up with WebJunction to find out the details on how libraries are using social media. We wanted to know how often libraries are using platforms and what some of their biggest challenges are. We surveyed 311 libraries throughout the country and found out some interesting things.

In our survey, we found that 55 percent of respondents serve fewer than 25,000 patrons, so nearly half of the respondents were smaller libraries, probably mostly in rural areas. We found that libraries are using social, and they are eager to grow their channels.

More than half (55.7 percent) of libraries spend less than 5 hours per week on social media, and 28 percent spend only 6 to 10 hours a week.

hours per week libraries spent on social media. 7%: 11-20 hours; 3%: 21-30 hours; 2%: 31-40 hours; 4%: other amount

Libraries use Facebook more than any other social platform. Twitter is the next most popular platform, and then Instagram.

Social media followers. Facebook: 54% have 1,000 or fewer followers; 34% have 1,000 - 5,000; 6% have 6,000 - 10,000; 3% have more than 10,000; 4% answered N/A. Twitter: 44% have 1,000 or fewer; 19% have 1,000 - 5,000; 1% have 5,000 - 10,000; 2% have more than 10,000; 4% answered N/A. Instagram: 40% have 1,000 or fewer; 10% have 1,000 - 5,000; 2% have 5,000 - 10,000; &lt;1% have more than 10,000; 48% answered N/A

Forty-four percent of libraries post daily on Facebook, and 25 percent also post daily on Twitter.

image with the text 'Frequency of Social Media Posts' and an illustration of a chart that shows the frequency by channels

Libraries are using social media to share events and pictures, educate people about services, highlight their collections, and support other libraries.

image with the text 'What Libraries use Social Media For' and an illustration of types of activities in the form of a chart

Growing followers and finding staff support are some of libraries' biggest social media challenges.

image with the text 'Libraries' Biggest Social Media Challenges' and an illustration of the challenges in the form of a chart

Learn How to Grow Your Library's Social Media Channels with Our WebJunction Webinars

The three webinars in the Social Media and Libraries Webinar Series, hosted by WebJunction and TechSoup for Libraries in collaboration, are available for viewing. They will help you build a social media strategy, including how to select platforms that work with different types of library content to create brand awareness, increase traffic, and meet community goals. This series highlights social media best practices to keep patrons and library staff engaged, develop measurable goals, and cultivate new readers and learners in your community.

Getting Started with Social Media for Your Library shows you how libraries can effectively use social media tools, even with limited staff and time. Learn how to identify the appropriate social media platforms to market library services and events, and how to integrate best social media practices in your library's marketing plan. We'll help you build a foundation for your social media strategy and provide practical ideas and tactics for immediate use in your library.

Social Media Analytics: What to Measure and Why teaches you the best methods to measure your library's social media outcomes. During this event, you will learn how to establish measurable goals, identify key performance indicators (KPIs), and evaluate your social media results

Going Deeper with Social Media talks about how to take the next steps toward amplifying your library's social media program. We discuss best practices in growing your library's social media program and managing user engagement. You'll learn tips on assessing the members of your library's audience based on their preferred platforms, and ideas for converting your in-person library community into an online community.