Updating a social media policy

In 2013 I write a post about how I had created a Social Media Policy for my workplace. I have decided to revisit the social media policy in this blog because there have since been some amendments. These include the addition of an exit strategy and measuring success.

Exit Strategy

It was after attending a training session on social media that I realised it was a good idea to add an exit strategy to my library’s policy. It already discusses factors to consider when choosing which social media platform is best for you to set up but what happens when you realise that the profile is not serving its purpose or that the provider cancels the service?

My research showed that this area of a social media policy was relatively simple in its options:

a) close the profile down completely

b) leave the profile open but make a note so that visitors can see that it is no longer updated

If the profile was rarely updated and had little or no useful information, it is probably safe to close the account down completely. Although, it might be worth considering why it was unsuccessful and why it was rarely updated. Was it an issue with the website itself and that what the service offered didn’t work for your needs? Or does it reflect staff’s approach to social media and not using it effectively? Perhaps problems like these could be addressed before abandoning the account.

If the profile has lots of useful information, like a blog or Twitter, you could simply leave the account open but say that it will no longer updated. Posts that have been published some time ago can still hold value as a repository of information.  Analysing statistics can gauge whether people are still visiting the website, which can help to decide what to do next.

You might want to consider disabling comments on your profile. Disused social media profiles attract spam so disabling comments will prevent this. It is possible that one of the services you use closes or changes its terms and conditions. You could export the content or another provider might take over the service so investigate the possibilities as well as consider the value of the information.

Measuring Success

The library already kept half an eye on the success of posts on Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. We decided to make analysing social media statistics a more prominent task – I exported statistics from Facebook and Twitter for the year 2013 to analyse and we note the top 5 posts on Facebook and Twitter every month. Looking at the statistics closely has shown us what subject areas our audience are interested in and even which websites prove popular to link to. Our audience seem to like the sources Times Higher Education, London School of Economics and The Conversation a lot, and particularly articles that relate to life as a student or researcher. It seemed sensible after gaining experience in this area to write down best practice.

This section of the social media policy explains the benefits of analysing statistics, suggestions of what statistics to analyse (e.g. reach of posts, engagement with content, most popular type of post, for example, a photo, URL or general status update) and frequency. It is mostly common sense but having it written down in the policy for all staff to be aware of will hopefully ensure we build measuring success into our role.


The Social Media Policy is an evolving document. I’m sure that there will be future amendments as we decide to alter best practice as social media develops. It is not a document that is set in stone forever and will require updating as any other policy would to prevent it from becoming out of date.

Social media policy

Recently, I have been working on a social media policy for the library I work in. This was in response to discussions I had with some colleagues about reviving the social media services the library uses. We decided that we needed guidelines on what we should post, the frequency with which we should post, think about who we are aiming at posts at, and so on.

Some of the social media services the library uses, such as LibraryThing, are used weekly to advertise our most recent acquisitions. The use of Facebook and Twitter was less enthusiastic though. People tended to post when something interesting arose, rather than actively seeking relevant information for the library’s users. The social media policy is designed to provide guidelines to the library’s staff on how often we should be posting and where to find inspiration.

This blog post will look at the steps I took to create the library’s social media policy and what a social media policy should contain.


  • Research

My first port of call was the web. A Google search brought up lots of social media policies libraries and organisations had created. I also looked for advice on creating a policy, investigating what to include in the policy and how to cater it towards your workplace.

I also recalled, when I worked at another library in the past, being emailed a very detailed social media policy. I emailed the head of communications and I very quickly received a response with the policy attached and some presentations on how individual libraries had created their own.

I also sent out a tweet on Twitter asking for advice, which brought back some useful contacts and websites to visit. These websites, along with the ones I found, are at the bottom of this post.

I looked at all of these websites and documents and noted down information that is essential to put into the policy, including copyright law and data protection. I learnt that the policy should include not only guidelines on being aware of who your audience is and frequency with which you post, but more serious information on legal implications.

I also looked at the structure the documents took. In general, the format looked like this:

Overview (introduction to the document’s purpose)

Key principles/guidelines

Appendix (definitions, templates for deciding how to use a social media  a service)

Knowing the general content of a social media policy and the structure the document takes, I could then move on to applying this to the creation of my own policy.


  • Draft

After my research, I wrote down everything I wanted the policy to include. I then put the ideas into order and created sections. What I decided on was something like this:


What social media is

Why the library uses it

How it can help

The purpose of the document and what it contains



  • Respect the law
  • Be transparent
  • Be accurate
  • Encourage comments and debate
  • Value
  • What you should never post
  • Behaviour
  • The media

Best practice

  • Audience
  • Frequency
  • Finding inspiration
  • What to post
  • How much time to invest

Setting up an account

[Points to consider when deciding whether to set up an account with a social media service.]

Useful hints

[Practicality of using social media which applies directly to the library.]

Looking at lots of libraries’ and organisations’ social media policies showed me that a lot of them contain the same information. In terms of the law, being accurate in what you post, and how to deal with negativity/harassment, the guidelines are generally the same. It is the practical side of using the services in your library that allows more room for creativity in the document.


  • Think about the larger organisation

In writing the policy for the library I work in, I had to think about the larger organisation we fall under. I work in a library within a college and it was important to bear in mind any policies they already have and their use of social media. Luckily for me, they don’t have any social media profiles and, therefore, don’t have a policy. However, I still had to think about the college as our audience and what they would be interested in reading.


  • Next steps

Having fleshed out each section into something more complex, I will pass the document on to the head of the library to read. I haven’t been in this job for that long and it is quite possible that before I arrived, my colleagues had conversations on the use of social media which I am not aware of. Also, it is important for the head of the library to know what I have written in order to be aware of what their staff are doing and ensuring the guidelines are followed.

I have already passed it on to a fellow colleague who is very much involved with the library’s use of social media so they can offer ideas and corrections.

Then, once it is amended and proof-read, I will distribute it to my colleagues.


  • Conclusion

I have rather enjoyed writing the library’s social media policy. Not just because it gives me a sense of responsibility but because I have enjoyed doing research into how other libraries operate their social media use.

I think a social media policy is very important for a library to have so they can follow guidelines and also because, if anything untoward happens, e.g. abusive comments, then the library will know how to respond. The document should ideally be created before joining social network services but, from experience and general chatter, I understand many libraries joined social networking services to see what they were like and then thought they should create some guidelines afterwards. This just means we should know what to do in the future and, when a new social media site is launched, we can think more strategically about whether it is worth the library signing up.