Using social media in higher education teaching

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My new job as Faculty Liaison Librarian at Newcastle University has made me think more about the use of social media in the Higher Education setting, especially with its use in teaching and research.

Some academics may still view social media as a distraction rather than seeing it as a valuable tool to reach out to their students.  However, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be harnessed by lecturers to create a more challenging and stimulating learning environment on a level that the students are happy and familiar with.

You might already have an idea how you want to use a particular platform in your teaching, or you maybe you know you want to use social media, but you don’t know which platform and how you want to use it!  First you should go through our adapted checklist, which is aimed at those teaching in higher education.  This will get you asking what you are wanting to do with the platform? If you want to share updates, then maybe Twitter would be best, or if you want to use it as an information source, then maybe a blog would be ideal, and so on:

Social Media checklist: higher education teaching

This article from Open Colleges gives a good breakdown of 25 of the main social media platforms and why you would use them: 25 Awesome Social Media Tools for Education.

Remember you need to plan HOW you are going to use your social media… leaping in without a plan is setting yourself up to failure.  Have a look are our previous blog posts on strategic planning to get you going:

Why do you need a social media policy?

Why do you need a social media strategy?

The importance of being organised

Here are some examples of using Twitter in teaching:

University of Nottingham use of Twitter for one of their Business modules

UCL Chemistry module on Twitter

UEA Chemistry module on Twitter

Twitter’s not literature, but it can be a novel teaching tool

Using Twitter in university learning

60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom

Here are also some articles to read more about using social media in teaching:

One in four students uses social media to contact university staff

Universities should use Twitter to engage with students

Using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities

8 Kinds of Social Media Personalities: Which Are You?

If you are interested in reaching out and contacting other academics that are using social media, here’s a great list of the top 50 users in the UK:

UK higher education social media influencers named

Don’t forget to have a look at the top 100 online tools to give you ideas on what platform you want to use:

 Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016: Overview

Do you use social media in your teaching? If so, share with us what you use and how you use it.

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The importance of being organised

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So many decision to make… How often should our library post on each of out platforms… hourly, daily, monthly? What time of the day should we post? Should we post more on Facebook than Twitter? What are we going to post about?  What is important… what needs more attention than our cat YouTube videos?!

Reading this has probably put you off using social media at your library as it sounds like a lot of hard work and time for what!?  There are two simple words that will help you with this… “get organised!”  By creating a simple social media calendar, in conjunction with a social media policy for your library, you will be able to organise your social media, have clear guidelines on your postings and all with very little effort.

Yes creating your calendar and policy might take a bit of time, but once you have these in place it’s smooth sailing!

A social media calendar can be as simple as a wall planner with all of your events and happenings that are on in your library.  Your policy can then lay out the library’s guidelines for posting on social media.  Your policy should include things like copyright, how staff should conduct themselves on social media (really important if there is more than one staff member posting), what the library can and can’t post about, how the library will reply to comments and handle unsavoury messages.

Here are some great examples of social media policy’s from large companies:

Everyone loves a template… why reinvent the wheel!

We would love to hear from library’s that have a either a social media calendar or policy or both and let us know what works and what doesn’t work.

Content, content, content!

bird-287109_1920So much to share, so little time!

The wonderful thing about public libraries is that you you can pretty much post about anything (within reason!).  You have such a huge array of subjects that you can blog, Tweet, Facebook about, create wonderful Pinterest boards and interesting Instagram photos or videos.

So when it comes to ideas for posts, the world is your oyster!  However, therein lies the problem.  Posting about anything and everything at anytime can be the possible downfall of  your social media empire.  You need to manage your content, ideally with a Social Media Content Strategy.  Here you need to think hard about the content you are putting up and start asking yourself:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • What kind of content do we want to post (and what works best) on each of our platforms?
  • Do we need to start planning our social media calendar for the year? (Check out our blog post on social media calendars to see what this involves).

Having some form of structure to your posts will not only give your content relevancy and direction, but will also make it easier to manage.  For example, if you have regular events in the library, make sure you advertise on the same platforms, on the same day every week.  You can go one step further and look at what time of day is best for posting on each of your platforms:

Or you can look at your analytics of your platform… what time of day is your audience most active?

So I think after you have done all of that you are ready for a very large G&T! Yes I know it takes time, and probably time you feel that you don’t have to spare, but I think it is definitely time well spent and you will hopefully reap the rewards with increased traffic not only to your social media platforms, but also to your library.

Great examples of school libraries using social media

One of the best ways to get started with using social media and to have a look to see what people are already doing…

  • What are other school libraries doing?
  • What platforms are they using?
  • What information are they posting?
  • How often are they posting?
  • How successful are they?

Of course I am only going to highlight only the bold and the beautiful in this post, but you can learn just as much from the social media that doesn’t work!

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Botany Downs Secondary College Library have had their Twitter page since 2011 and by the looks of it have been regularly posting, with and impressive 7,883 Tweets and 739 followers.  Looking on their library website, they state why they use social media and the multiple platforms they use:

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Massey Primary School Library Facebook is good example of using social media on a smaller scale.  However, by quickly looking at their posts you can see they are regular with their posts, using different types of posts and every time I visit the page the page ‘likes’ have gone up… slow and steady wins the race!

If you are struggling to get going, reach out to these libraries and ask them questions about their use of social media.  You will find that the majority of libraries using social media a sociable bunch (hee hee pun intended!) and more than happy to share their secrets of their success.

Why do you need a social media policy?

document-428331_640As part of your social media strategy, a social media policy is invaluable. This makes sure you have guidelines to work within for your posts – rules about what you can and what you can’t write about in your posts, how to deal with comments on your posts etc.

Here are some great ideas and help for you to get you on your way…

Some examples to be inspired by…

*remember you can have go online and find other library’s social media policy to be inspired by!

Should school libraries be using social media?

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Absolutely!

Social media can be used in many, many, many different ways in your school library….

  • You could use social media to collaborate with other staff. Tools like Google Docs enable you to share and edit documents with other staff. This can be very useful when working on an ongoing project-in fact Julia and I used Google Docs to write our presentation for SLANZA and LIANZA conference.
  • SurveyMonkey is another awesome tool for gathering data. It’s free and very simple to use. The Digital Resources Librarian at Julia’s library used SurveyMonkey to create an assessment of staff’s technical abilities which she then analysed. Julia then used the results to target areas where staff need upskilling.  
  • Can build connections with parents and caregivers especially with the use of Facebook
  • You could use Snapchat for a book treasure hunt around the library!
  • Use Pinterest to create boards around topics that are being taught in class.
  • Twitter is great for making quick, short, snappy announcement such as when the Internet is down, the library is closed, events coming up etc.
  • Create “How do I…” guides for the students to learn how to use the library’s resources using video and publish them on YouTube.

This list is never-ending… use your imagination, push the boundaries and make social media work for you.

Here are some more ideas and inspiration for using social media in schools…

Share with us the different ways you use social media in your school library.  What platform are you using and how?

Why do you need a social media strategy?

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Before you leap into using social media you need to ask yourself why are you using social media in the first place?  It is fear of missing out?  Are you doing it just because everyone else is?

You first need a plan of attack!  Having a social media strategy gives you a clear reason why you are using social media, especially when justifying the use of your social media platform to higher levels of management.

For this strategy you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • What social media platform do our target audience already use?
  • What platform(s) are we going to use?
  • What are our goals for the year ahead?

Having these goals will not only give you direction, but all keep you motivated.  For example at the end of last year CPIT Library’s Promotions and Communications team had the goal of reaching 300 likes on our library Facebook page, then 400 for this year (Which we have already excelled!).

A great way of establishing your goals is to have a social media calendar.  Here are some great resources on social media calendars to get you started:

Here are some resources to get you going on you social media strategy: