Social Media and MLA

Yesterday I sat in on a conference call about various technology things and MLA. One of the things we discussed was social media.  We have to get involved, we have to create a social media strategy to effectively engage in that area of communication.  Based on a survey, it is clear that the majority of those surveyed still prefer the listserve to communicate.  But, it is also clear that other mediums are gaining in popularity and usage and they shouldn’t be ignored just because they are new.  Talking on the phone was once the preferred method of communication among people, now cell phone companies are investigating data/text only plans (no voice minutes) because people just aren’t talking anymore, they are texting and emailing.  As society adapts to new technology they change their behavior patterns. 

I am not saying using the listserve to stay informed is exactly like the evolution of cell phone use, but we do evolve with technology and we would be seriously remiss if we don’t look at addressing it and coming up with a strategy.

So here is where I ask you, the reader….  “What would you like to see MLA do with social media?”

Keep in mind it has to be pretty self sustaining, easy, and require few man hours.  Why?  There are like 10 people who are employed as MLA staff who are all working on multiple projects to keep the organization going.  Whatever plan, thoughts, ideas, that you have, they need to take into account that perhaps a volunteer(s) (similar to the Medlib-l moderator) might be the one doing the bulk of the day to day stuff.  It also should be something that is cohesive and not disjointed.  A LinkedIn account, Facebook account, and YouTube account all sitting out there separately not referencing to each other or interconnected in either way and duplicating work without a cohesive voice or style, does us no good.

Obviously we need to come up with a strategy, but I would like to see what you think we should be doing with these resources in a way to help structure the strategy so that we are serving the members in the most effective and efficient manner. 

So use this blog post as a brain storming area or a sounding board about your vision, thoughts, concerns, etc. on social medial and MLA.

5 thoughts on “Social Media and MLA”

  1. I like your suggestion of using volunteers. Is that not one of the powers of social media, i.e. easily open to many to use/maintain? I think that’s the direction to go for MLA. Open up and get as many people involved in the maintenance, contributions, etc. as possible. Shared responsibilities are the most feasible in this day and age. (The harder thing will be to change the attitudes and habits of some members regarding new tools, but it can happen in a positive and constructive way.)

  2. Thanks Sally. I really envision it running through the efforts of established volunteer(s) akin to the Medlib-l moderator idea and through the efforts of the membership feedback and engagement to generate the majority of content, thoughts and opinions.

    I think it will be difficult to change attitudes and habits regarding new tools. But it is happening. If you were at MLA and attended Mark Funk’s lecture you saw all of the people who held up their devices. I was stunned at how many iPads there were out there. So more people are buying the tools, they are just learning how they want to use them. Additionally Mark did a poll looking at demographics of those attending his lecture. The two largest group of librarians attending his lecture of MLA had 1-5 yrs experience and 16+ yrs experience. So while there is a LARGE group of older people who maybe resistant to change, there is an extremely large incoming group that are very comfortable with these new technologies. (BTW I was in the smallest group with more than 5yrs but less than 16 yrs. I think there were maybe like 5 of us in that demographic).
    So if we keep on top of things and creat a strategy we will be in a position to adapt to the memberships needs regardless of what new social media thing comes out.

  3. Michelle,

    Canadian health librarians through CHLA/ABSC have created a social media best practices committee – will report about it soon.

    Any synergy between MLA & CHLA?

  4. On a related note, mpow has just this week forbidden use of all social media while on work time, and on any work provided computer or network at any time, unless officially sanctioned work-related, for which there are forms for permission, etc. This is a large university med ctr. Just when the smart phone technology is finally trickling down to us on the bottom rungs, when we are finally thinking about how to use it effectively to enhance our work, this comes out. The new email policy is yet to come.

  5. As far as an organization utililizing social media, it’s easy to get stuck in the “broadcast” phase, pushing information out one way. I doubt if MLA staff have time to connect with people, interact, re-tweet, and all the other things that go along with using social media to its fullest extent.

    Even if volunteers are used, what would they be doing? Interacting and following other users (or liking pages and adding people as friends), or just making announcements? Just making announcements is a start, but unless any organization has the people power to sustain connection it’s kind of a dead end and a repeat of information received in other ways.

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