One of the reasons that this blog has been so quiet recently is that I've been working on my MSc dissertation. I'm pleased to say that barring a few last minute tweaks it's complete!
The topic of my dissertation is the title of this post. I've been interested in social media use in libraries ever since I took part in Cam23 and I've come across a lot of institutions that use the tools. It came as a little bit of a shock then to find out that few places have an evaluation strategy in place when it comes to their social media initiatives. Some places make a token effort to count the number of 'likes' a post has on Facebook or the amount of times that something gets retweeted, but few look beyond this. My research was concerned with delving a little deeper and exploring whether social media use was having an impact on library users, good or bad.
I won't go into detail with the results here but below is an image of a poster that I presented at the recent libraries @ cambridge conference which summarieses the main findings:
Measuring the Impact of Social Media Marketing in Libraries by Claire Sewell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
I'm not claiming that my research is brilliant or foolproof (far from it!) but I think this an interesting area which more libraries need to explore. If you actually ask your users what they like/don't like about social media you might get some interesting answers. You might find out that your users really like your Twitter feed even if you don't get many retweeets, or that your Facebook 'likes' don't really count for much. If you rely on usage statistics alone then you could be misled.
It seems to me that a lot of librarians are having trouble convincing their managers that social media is really worth their time. Although impact is a notoriously tricky thing to measure, if you can come up with some user based evidence then you will have something concrete to show your managers next time they ask why you should be wasting time on social media!