For my interview I chose to interview Tim Spindle who is the Digital Librarian for the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City. Tim started out working at an IT help desk and hated it. Some friends of his who were librarians suggested that he might be a good fit for libraries in that he could help his coworkers with upping their “tech game.”
There first thing I should note about this interview is that my own “tech game” was not on point that day, and after concluding the interview I discovered that my recorder had not recorded anything. Luckily, Tim was very understanding and willing to do it a second time. Naturally, the two interviews were slightly different so there may be a few things I reference here that may not be in the accompanying recording because it was in the initial interview. I would appreciate your forbearance in this matter.
The first part of the interview I would like to highlight is the discussion some of the challenges of social media. One thing Tim said that struck me was that history has shown that basic advertising “one-way” posts that just mention events have not typically been well received by the public. Because of this there is the concern that too much of this type of posting, rather than more creative and engaging content, could actually drive away followers.
Another challenge we discussed was the current model of single channel platforms for the library system versus each branch having their own social media presence. Tim made the point that Facebook’s algorithms make it such that fewer people see an organization’s posts unless there is engagement and interaction (likes, shares, comments etc.), in which case the post can snowball and be seen widely. This being the case, Tim isn’t sure that individual branches would have enough followers to garner the necessary engagement to get that ball rolling.
In talking about some of his more successful campaigns, his attitude was that it doesn’t always have to be completely related to you organization. One of the his more successful campaigns had to do with when Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for the Golden State Warriors. Tim sent out a sad meme with the message that the library has books and resources for coping with loss. It doesn’t always have to be relevant to your organization, but it should be relevant to the people you want to reach. Tim described this as building “social good will” among your followers. If you keep catching their eye, eventually they might engage with you.
The last thing I wanted to touch on was from our discussion of the future of social media. Tim mentions that one thing that social media is going to need going forward is people. As he put it, you wouldn’t build a library branch and not staff it. And he says there are talks in the library to expand the social media team. It seems that the future of social media is staffing for it.
John: I’m not sure I’m on board with the unrelated posts, promoting “good social will.” In a sense, doesn’t this degrade his efforts a bit, to stay on message while educating, entertaining and engaging? I love Tim’s library metaphor — on target!!
It was great to hear from a different point of view that just a social media manager. Gaining a sense of where the digital content comes from is important, especially for social media managers who want to share it with their audience. He talked about how he wants to tell the story of the library through technology and I think that is something that all organization should strive towards. Being able to understand how museums and their mission fits within social media is essential to the world today.
It was interesting to get a new take on social media from the perspective of a library. I like that Tim shares other staff members blog posts. This further connects the staff with the users, which is in line with the people to people connection we’ve been talking about.
Tim’s use of a popular culture event (or two for that matter) blended with essentially a cult classic series to promote their mission and goals is absolutely brilliant and was unsurprisingly well received. The content appealed to a vast array of audiences as #durexit exploded and rightfully so- he said it best citing “currency and relevancy” as keys to this and other successful and engaging posts.
I found the original post he references here: https://twitter.com/MetroLibraryOK/status/750014552515842049
Tim Spindle brings up the fact that library branches do not have their own Facebook pages or social media sites, but instead rely on one main Facebook page such as the Metropolitan Library System. However, I was surprised to find that each branch does now have their own site on Facebook. John do you think your interview sparked Tim’s interest in creating this new set up?
I’m not sure how I feel about the content not always having to deal directly with the organization… the example shared here is really quite creative and, in a round about way, does at least speak to the fact that they are a library and indirectly promotes a part of their holdings (books on loss). I would be interested to find out more about if he meant that “not completely related content” to be more of “indirect” content– or just something different that would catch people attention
Interviewing someone like Tim really added a wonderful mix to our interviews. “Relevant, current and actionable” is a great motto to go by regarding how to engage the online community. I like how Tim shares helpful books and ways to apply the books like the DIY projects.
John, It was interesting to hear the difference between hearing the difference between maintaining one account for each branch vs. having each branch have their own social media page. It is very important to understand how each platform works behind the scenes in order to understand how you are reaching your audience. Even if you create great content, it is not as effective if people are not seeing it.
Listening to Tim’s description of his what his job entitles made me think of how important his role is to not just libraries but museums as well. He states that his role includes him “supporting the library’s digital presence.” I think if this kind of role can be included into museum, wow would we be able to reach a wider range of audiences wouldn’t we? I was very intrigued about his Tailors Titles project in which staff members recommend different books for people who are looking for new reads. While this probably isn’t something that museums can use, it is very beneficial and for libraries because it helps to personalize them and that in turn makes it more appealing to visitors.
Tim’s idea that your social media content should be relevant to your audience is so great. The content will end up being more engaging and relatable. Hearing about how libraries use social media gives us another angle on these tools for nonprofit organizations. Also, sharing staff blogs brings another level of engagement. His knowledge of all the digital possibilities at the library is impressive.
I think its important to have executive support when dealing with social media strategies, so I like how Tim discusses the logistics of that. Those in charge may not realize how much a reach social media has, or how productive the content can be. It goes to show that exposing great content to higher-ups in an organization can really help to expand and support social media marketing strategies.
His transition from and IT help desk technician to a librarian is fascinating. His prior experience in the technology field, before chasing a career as a librarian, did really seem to help him be able to step right into the fit of the new career. It certainly helps that he had peers assure him that he would make a good fit as a librarian also. A career change, like so many of us are in the midst of, can be a very challenging and scary thing, but his background and assurances had to make his transition a little easier.
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