September 30, 2014

Facebook: One page for all or each their own?

Facebook2 Facebook: One page for all or each their own?This week I had an email from a library asking this question:

 ”I’m wondering if you could help me with an issue we’re facing. We currently have a FB page for our library system, but some staff members have questioned whether it would be more useful to have many branch specific pages instead of one main page.  We have 17 branches spread across a large county and the thought is that a patron in the north probably doesn’t care what’s happening in the south and would rather friend their specific branch instead of the system as a whole.”

 I’m sure this is a question many of you face, and my own library looked at this issue as well. Here are my thoughts, which I shared with this library.  I thought you might find helpful and/or it might spark debate.

 ***

Thanks for asking the question. Here’s what I think:

It is important to keep your brand focused and clear in the mind of the consumer. When you have a bunch of different Facebook pages for branches you risk diluting your brand. How will it be possible that each branch page reflects the overall library brand? You’ll have different messages, different voice, different strategic focus. This is confusing to customers.

 If you keep a single page for the library, you keep the system recognizable to your customer. This is very important to my library because we are funded by tax payers and we want to ensure they understand – in a county with multiple library systems – which branches belong to my library. It also:

  • Keeps brand consistency in voice, images, and tone
  • Helps customers better understand our key strategies because we continue to focus on a few things instead of everything.

 Finally, it is key to the vitality of a Facebook page that you generate conversation. Listing events doesn’t do that. You feed should provoke questions among your FB friends, not be a monologue that lists events.

 If you get resistance to this approach, FB has an answer for you. You can create custom tabs for location that can include events on those pages. We have done it this way.

We used a product call Tabsite. It allows you to create multiple tabs in Facebook.

What direction has your library taken?

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

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Comments

  1. I can see both sides of this one. I don’t think that having pages for each branch creates anarchy. A lot of patrons only visit their local branch, particularly when others are further afield. Saying this confuses customers is not necessarily true. Many patrons will understand the difference between a system-wide and branch-specific. It’s like a fast food joint–there’s a Burger King everywhere, but maybe I only want to talk to the staff of “mine.” And a library is even more so the case because the offerings at all our local Burger Kings are identical, but each branch in our system has different strengths and programming.

    And, yes, content-wise, there should be more than events on the library’s Facebook page, but also, that is what patrons are most likely looking for. I know most of the phone calls I field are regarding our events schedule and most of the comments on our Facebook page are likewise.

    No one is saying a patron can’t “Like” the system-wide page AND his/her own local branch(es).

  2. When we first entered into the world of Facebook (and Twitter) we had this exact same philosophy. We had one Facebook page (and one Twitter account) for the library system, and did for a few years. We regularly had requests from branches to set-up their own accounts, which we didn’t want to do for the exact same reasons given.

    However, earlier this year we changed our mind. Our situation is very similar to the question you received. We (Harris County Public Library in Houston) have 26 locations in a county that is 1700 miles in area. We are very community focused and decided that it was time to let branches have Facebook/Twitter accounts. We do the set-up at a system level (through my department) and the branches who take the plunge are expected to post regularly. It is strictly voluntary for branches as in this case we don’t want lackluster posting.

    Our system Facebook and Twitter accounts are still a main focus of our social marketing for the system. We have simply found that the branch accounts enhance the main ones. We also “like” back and forth between the branches and make sure the branch FB pages are branded as being part of HCPL.

  3. I understand that having a system-wide page maintains brand consistency. But I don’t think the single page approach generates conversation any better than individual branch pages do. On the contrary, a branch page allows a library’s staff to interact directly with patrons who know them, and vice versa, and gives it a more personal touch. Which is what facebook is for, right?

  4. Jennifer West says:

    Any libraries who use only their Facebook page?

  5. librarian says:

    We have the same problem, and have chosen one FB page for the system. There’s very little flair or insight, or comment for that matter. I think the branches could do a better job of interacting with their customers. Tabsite wouldn’t work for us because we want more than a listing of events. They can get that on our website. We’d like our various branch staff engaging their patrons. Not all want to do it, but the ones who do would be great at it!

  6. As a board trustee, I agree that branch libraries should be allowed and encouraged to have a Facebook for their library, if desired by the branch. Who knows the demographics of their community better than the library staff? Using this data the library staff can communicate and start powerful conversations on subjects of interest to that community.
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  7. As a board trustee, I agree that branch libraries should be allowed and encouraged to have a Facebook for their library, if desired by the branch. Who knows the demographics of their community better than the library staff? Using this data the library staff can communicate and start powerful conversations on subjects of interest to that community.
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