Often when people talk about advocating for teen services the focus is on face-to-face activities. But, using social tools such as Twitter and Tumblr gives you a great opportunity to reach more people with your advocacy efforts. It also gives you the chance to start advocacy conversations that might not be possible face-to-face. Here are four ideas to get you started:
- Twitter I have to begine by saying that YALSA does a great job at using Twitter as an advocacy tool and anyone that is looking for ideas on how to be a social media/digital advocate will do well to check out the association’s Twitter feed. Why do I say this? Because YALSA mixes it up a bit. The association retweets what other organizations with goals similar to YALSA’s tweets. I don’t doubt that these other groups notice YALSA’s tweets and as a result notice the association and what they are about. Similarly, when someone retweets a YALSA tweet the re-tweeter is thanked. Again a good way to make connections and get others thinking about and learning about YALSA. Key in all of the ways YALSA uses Twitter is that embedded in many of the posts and retweets is a subtle message about the value of library service to teens. Followers of the account get the message of why teens and libraries are important without being bashed over the head with that information.
- Tumblr Memes and Tumblr go hand-in-hand so why not create a why the library is valuable to teens and the community Tumblr meme? Work with teens to come up with a theme for your meme, maybe something like, “Why My Library?” and ask them to seed a Tumblr that you and they create with photos that visually demonstrate the answer to that question. Ask teens to get the word out to their friends about the Tumblr and the meme and have the teens seek out submissions, and vet submissions, as they come in. Perhaps incentivize teens, and their friends, by offering extra computer time, fines waived, a gift card, or something similar for participating in the project. You can then use the images on the Tumblr when talking with stakeholders, funders, colleagues, administrators, and other community members as a way to show them why teens think the library is of value in their lives.
- Blogs One of the things people talk a lot about when talking about advocacy is the value of stories. When helping people understand why what we do for and with teens in libraries is important a story can go a long way. Why not collect stories whenever they happen on a blog and make them public? That way at any time people in your community – or even in a far off community – can read about the impact your library has on teen lives. Anytime you hear or live through a story that serves to demonstrate why what you do in your library is so important post it on your blog. Tag the stories using categories that will help you aggregate collections of these stories. That way when you need to tell a funder about how a teen got into college or got a job because of the library, you can easily find the stories you have on that topic by selecting the blog tag.
- Google Hangouts You can have the work you do with and for teens in the community visible through Google Hangouts. Maybe you can have a Hangout with teens where you plan a program. You and the teens talk about what’s required for the program and assign tasks and setup a timeline. Record the Hangout and make it available on YouTube. Tag it and use the YouTube description field to explain to viewers how the Hangout demonstrates the library’s ability to help teens gain decision-making and planning skills along with social competencies. Link to the video in as many places as you can and show it when meeting with funders, stakeholders, etc.
The above are just four ways for using social tools to advocate for and with teens in your community. What are you doing to tell why what you do has value? Tell us in the comments.