My library manager said I'm spending too much time in our social media spaces. How much time is too much time?

Today's query is fresh out of my inbox (it arrived there overnight), and it's something that I've been hearing on and off for the last couple of years from staff in all types of libraries both here in NZ and in Australia. (Usually accompanied by a look of extreme frustration). I came up against it recently in discussion with a colleague in an academic library and, as a result, have bumped it to the head of the queue. (I seem to constantly have about 20-30 in various draft stages yikes).

Query: My library manager said I'm spending too much time in our social media spaces. How much time is too much time?

Short answer: How long is a piece of string?

More thoughtful answer: If people tell you that you only need to chuck out a few posts about your library each day then, sure, it's going to use a couple of hours a week max. And if those posts are random as all get out, and don't have a specific purpose, then maybe you can reduce that time to an hour at the most. Count your job done, and move on. If, however, you want to do it well, and in a meaningful way, ignore those people. Hell, unfriend/unfollow them, and then ask yourself the following:

  • Why is your library in social media? What do they want to do with it? What is their purpose?
  • What agreement or understanding do you have with your library manager about time?
  • What is your wider organisation's policy around this?

Realistically, these are questions your library should have considered beforehand. If that didn't happen, then get something down now, and do it together. Agree on a time to review it (six months? A year?) and check that it's still relevant, and works for all parties concerned. If it doesn't, amend it. Before you do that, though, think about how much time you need to negotiate with your library manager - think about how long it would take you to:

  • Update your streams
  • Monitor where your library is being mentioned in online spaces
  • Plan, research, and write content
  • Engage with your community - seek feedback about your library and use it to shape your services
  • Grow your community
  • Listen in on conversations taking place in your streams
  • Participate in those conversations
  • Curate and share content
  • Meet with staff who are also responsible for your streams and ensure they're doing the same
  • Keep regular stats
  • Analyse those same stats and use them

Now ask yourself: Are you spending too much time in your social media spaces? Don't be surprised if you find that you're not spending enough there, and that you're about to bump heads with management by telling them so. Which, not coincidentally, leads me to the title of my next post: What do I do if my library manager doesn't take my role seriously?

Until then, pasta la pizza, people.

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