Friday 25 January 2013

Measuring the Impact of Social Media Marketing in Libraries

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:

Creative Commons Licence
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!


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I'm part of the social media group at Goldsmiths and this kind of survey helps justify our efforts!


  2. Thanks! I'm glad that it's helping people. Hopefully in the future there will be more research into this topic which will help people who have to justify their work social media presence

  3. Different studies have been made on the use and effectiveness of social networking sites in general. This is one of those that gave a little wake up call to all those who want their sites to be that useful. You know, some of them have spent a lot on their sites, but when the user doesn’t know how to maximize the potential of his/her site, it’s kind of a loss for them. Hope you still have some studies to share. 

    Parker Murillo

  4. Thanks for commenting. I think what this study has really taught me is that it's important to invest time as well as money in your social media presence. If you're not using it to interact with your library users then you're missing the whole point of it.

    1. I agree with the previous comments. Social media is all about interacting with the people in your network. The whole point of social media will not be seen if there’s not enough time invested in them. Thanks for this post. I hope more social media managers like me may find this and understand the real concept of social media marketing. :)

  5. Thanks. I really hope that if there's one thing people take away from this it's the importance of interaction on social media. One day I hope to do some more research into this, maybe comparing libraries who interact with those that don't.