I chose to write about the Sno-Isle library system (http://www.sno-isle.org/). The assignment requirements read “a” library, but Sno-Isle is a system of libraries. I hope this fits within the scope of the assignment, because I was interested to see how a local library system was using social media. The Sno-Isle library system has a blog (including many individual branch blogs), a presence on Facebook, a Twitter account, a Flickr and Youtube site.
Sno-Isle’s Facebook site is up to date and active, clearly a place they advertise current events at all library branches, while featuring some local information specific to branch library’s communities. Sno-Isle has plainly made the commitment to make regular updates and keep the content fresh. They’ve allowed for comments, which preserves the traditional communicative style of Facebook. Initially I had a hard time getting a sense of the unique character of Sno-Isle from their Facebook site. This is a bit unfair critique, because of it representing many branches. But, as I spend some time on the site, I realized they do a good job of adding character by providing links to videos that are literature or library related. They share some amusing letters and notes written to the different libraries that contribute some personality. Branches provide anecdotal stories and musing unique to their libraries. Despite being a Facebook site representing a library system, there is still, amazingly, a sense of place and a picture of the overall personality and attitude. Sno-Isle isn’t afraid to use humor. There’s a wonderful sense of pride expressed through their Facebook site in being part of the public library tradition. They seem to respect their communities and are quick to respond to patron comments and concerns. While Sno-Isle doesn’t take too many risks with creative advertising on their site, they aren’t afraid to advertise that they have personality. You get a sense from Sno-Isle’s Facebook contributors that they enjoy the forum and have integrated it nicely into their library’s advertising.
Although very traditional in it’s format, Sno-Isle’s Oak Harbor branch’s blog (http://snooakharborlibrary.blogspot.com/) has a sense of self. It’s clearly there to communicate the library’s programs in the community, and to provide a venue for reader’s advisories, while occasionally interjecting a more personal touch. As far as the way the blog markets the library, it’s doesn’t offer any “wow factor.” It’s a library blog as you’d expect a library blog to be. Don’t get me wrong, the content is well written and it acts as a great resource for program information, but it reads more like a library website than a dynamic blog.
Sno-isle’s Twitter feed is pretty active (http://twitter.com/#!/snoislelibrary). They’ve tweeted nearly 4000 times and have nearly a thousand followers. Again, the focus is on programs, but that’s what libraries are about. I’m impressed with the way Sno-Isle has used Twitter to advertise their services. Within the brevity of a tweet, they provide links to more information about the programs they are advertising. Like their Facebook site, Sno-Isle is clearly commitment to keeping up with Twitter, using it regularly, albeit in a somewhat traditional way.
Sno-Isle’s Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sno-islelibraries/), on the other hand, feels a bit dead in the water. There haven’t been any updates since 2009. Short paragraph, but what can I say?
With over twenty videos, Sno-Isle’s Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/snoislevideos) presence shows a broad spectrum of their personality. There are some very strange humorous videos, artsy videos made by local teens, serious sales pitches for reading, and some great tutorials on library services. Sno-Isle’s video are actually fairly well made, and their most recent “what’s your story” feature is well advertised on their main website and provides stories of fans of the library as a community enhancer. It helps advertise the libraries pride of serving their community.
On to branding… We’ll, there’s not much there. Sno-Isle’s main website, Facebook and Twitter accounts use the same unique library logo, but I can’t say it provides a continuity between the sites. There’s little visual continuity between their sites, and almost no effort has been made to make their social media tools look unique.
Sno-Isle are not doing anything revelatory with social media (of course, my library isn’t doing anything). They seem to be towing the line of what’s commonplace in social media, but they are doing a great job keeping up with the content while advertising that they have personality. They are committed to the social media they do use, as far as the content is concerned, but they have not risked gambling with a bit more creativity to provide a unique social media marketing. Sno-Isle could take the leap and start playing around with other social media websites. Perhaps they could think of a unique way to use Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/)? With their great video experience, maybe Sno-Isle could do something creative with Tout (http://www.tout.com/). Sno-Isle certainly has an intelligent and creative staff, it would be great to see what they could do with less traditional social media tools.