Focus on Facebook and Twitter. Share ideas, and tell us library success stories. Keep the messages brief.

That’s what you said you wanted from YALSA.

Earlier this year, more than 400 members responded to an online survey regarding social media – and we listened. “We” being the six American Library Association Emerging Leaders selected to work on a project spearheaded by YALSA.

First, a little about the ALA Emerging Leaders program: Each year 50 diverse library workers who are in their first five years in the field come together for leadership development and to tackle various tasks from ALA’s divisions and roundtables. Our work began at the Midwinter Meeting in Boston and concluded with a poster presentation during the Annual Conference in Orlando.

Our project: Over six months we developed a social media marketing calendar that YALSA can use to manage its presence online. We started with the survey to determine the preferences of YALSA members, specifically what social media sites you prefer, what types of information you would like to receive, and what you think YALSA should do to better engage its members.

During our team’s initial phone meeting — prior to the survey being conducted — we discussed the popularity of Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other online tools. Would it be worthwhile for YALSA to invest time in these websites and apps? Thanks to your feedback, we learned that YALSA is better off continuing its focus on Facebook and Twitter. And with social media blocked in so many workplaces, respondents also noted that they rely heavily on YALSA E-News, the organization’s weekly email newsletter.

With data from you in hand, we knew we needed some “best practices” to guide our creation of the social media calendar. We reviewed books and articles, analyzed infographics, and searched for tips from libraries and nonprofits that are using social media successfully.

Our best practices included things like: Know your target audience and consider what your audience cares about, Don’t overdo it, and Listen and communicate. You may be thinking, ‘Well, duh,’ but you’d be surprised by how many organizations miss these seemingly obvious guidelines.

These best practices led us to the final product: a Google spreadsheet with 12 pages – one for each month – of content that could be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and YALSA’s weekly email newsletter. ‘And where did we get this content?’ you might ask. We combed through YALSA’s website, wiki, blogs, previous posts, and previous social media guidelines as well as general holidays and pulled out events, services, programs, etc. to feature in our calendar. We divided up the months – six people, so two months per person – and crafted posts based on the info we pulled out.

Was it a lot of work? Sure. But we are extremely proud of what we came up with. Look for more on that process in a future blog post.

YALSA’s 2016 Emerging Leaders: Derrick Burton, Tiffany Davis, Kayla Marie Figard, Hattie Garrow, Samantha Helmick, and Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

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