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Grow Your Social Capital

Social Media words

Understanding social media and working to build an audience via social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter can be a bit a challenge for librarians and other organizations who want to start a presence in these areas. In May American Libraries published the article Understanding Social Capital by librarian and social media expert Laura Solomon.  Solomon explains the value of social capital and that in many ways social capital is akin to credibility. To start a social media presence with no followers can be frustrating but building your credibility through the development of social capital is an important step to gaining followers and sharing your message.

Solomon points out that one of the pitfalls many organizations suffer in early attempts to engage users on social media is posting and sharing information that is only about their organization. Building social capital takes time and requires work. Solomon stresses that “building a social media reputation means giving back.”

Solomon provides details on several tips for engagement with users that can be used to build social capital through social media. She recommends the follow:

  • Thank your patrons
  • Ask for opinions
  • Offer links to other sites of interest
  • Retweet your followers (Twitter)
  • Always give credit
  • Encourage feedback
  • Provide information people care about
  • Monitor and respond to posts

Solomon goes on to provide some advanced tips for building social capital through the use of photos, customer service, and contests as tools to further audience engagement.

One of the main takeaways from the article for anyone looking to build social capital is understanding that in order to build social capital there is a demand for reciprocity. While promoting your organization’s programs it is equally important to use social media as a tool to promote other programs and highlight information that your audience is interested in, even if it comes from other sources. Pointing people in the right direction and engaging with users is an important part of growing social capital and earning creditability.

Solomon’s latest book The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media and her previous work Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian’s Guide both provide additional information about building and maintaining a social media presence and can be borrowed from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region’s (NN/LM SCR) Lending Library.

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