Using Social Media to Connect with Teens

It’s easy for any library to have a social media presence these days.  Translating that into success with serving a teen population?  Well, that’s another thing…

Be Yourself

The discussion of personal and professional profiles always comes up.  I didn’t want to have two profiles (done it before, hated it) so I had to make a decision: add teens to my own accounts or hide myself far, far away.  I went with what some may consider to be the unpopular route.  I added them to my own accounts.  I feel like it has made a world of difference.

I am happy to share the real Justin with the teens that I serve.  I have nothing bad to hide and all good to share.  Letting them in on my “personal” life has actually allowed me to establish a deeper connection with them.  For example, when one teen found that him and I shared an interest in The Mars Volta, he came running in the library one day in disbelief.  He was excited that I was into the same music as him.  He now comes in a few times each week and we spend a good fifteen minutes or so talking about music.

This is just one of countless examples of how opening up my personal social networking accounts to teens has made it easier for me to connect with them and provide them with quality service.  In the end, it makes you more of a real person to them.  They become your friend and they trust you.  The upside to this?  They’re using the library…and they love it.

Stay Active

There’s nothing that looks sadder than an abandoned profile.  If you’re going to have a public account, make sure you update it with the most relevant information.  Don’t just create the profile and let it fester and rot away.  An up to date profile will show your public that you care about connecting with them.  One of the golden rules I try to always stick to is replying to comments or posts.  Even if it is a simple hello or a comment on a link, say something back!  Conversation and interaction is one of the reasons why we’re all using social media.

Educate Them

Myspace is dead.  It lost its appeal when showing off how (badly) one could customize their page with videos, gifs, and pictures won out over connecting and sharing with others.  We can learn something from this.

Media 21 is a project created by Buffy Hamilton, a school librarian at Creekview High School in Canton, GA.  The goal of the Media 21 Project is to “expand teens’ information literacy skills by introducing them tools for constructing a personal learning network and to posit research as a real world activity for learning, not an isolated unit of study.”

The idea behind Media 21 blows my mind.  Taking a moment or two each day to educate the teens using my library about social media allows me to better serve them as a librarian.  They understand that social media is a real and credible way to interact, share and create.  It helps me be the best librarian I can be for them.  I know what they want, and they know I’m always here to listen.

Buffy further adds: “I wanted to them to learn how to use social media tools for constructing and sharing knowledge as well as to start thinking about ways social media can be an authoritative source of knowledge”

Right on, sister.

You can read more about the Media 21 project here

Many thanks to School Librarian extraordinaire Buffy Hamilton for her quotes and guidance.

Give Stuff Away

I love what they’re doing over at the Darien Library with FourSquare.  As a matter a fact, it got me thinking.  With the tips  feature, we’re able to create our own little mini scavenger hunts for teens.  I learned just how excited teens get whyen it comes to scavenger hunts when I hosted an all night teen lock in at my library last year.  The scavenger hunt was one of the biggest events of the night.  By offering daily scavenger hunts with rewards, teens will have more reason to come into the library, check in, and complete the daily tip.  You’ve got them inside the library and they’re actively participating in a library program.  Win!

(On a related note, I highly suggest checking out this excellent post by David Lee King.  “Personal Accounts, Work Accounts – What To Do?”)

-Justin Hoenke, Tame The Web Contributor

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7 thoughts on “Using Social Media to Connect with Teens”

  1. Catholic school teachers in Western Australia have pretty much been told they are not to use personal social media to interact with students, and the state school body is looking into doing the same.

    “Catholic Education Office of WA director Ron Dullard said his schools already banned teachers from becoming friends with students on social-networking websites.”
    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/teachers-warned-off-online-facebook-contact-with-students/story-e6frg13u-1225801635170

    What do you think about such measures and the reasons behind them?

  2. Thank you for sharing this!

    Am I a fan of such measures? Not really, but I can understand where they are coming from. They seem like they really want to stop any kind of lawsuits/trouble before it happens. I think that before banning people from sharing online profiles we really need to look at the main problem…which seems to be lack of common sense. We need to educate people about what should and should not be shared!

    When I’m sharing my online profiles, I put common sense above everything else. I always think “is this appropriate or will I regret this” before posting. So far, I think it has worked out well.

  3. I’m currently in library school and hoping to become a youth librarian in a public library and I find this fascinating. I already use a lot of social media but I’ve made the choice to have a personal and slightly more professional blog since I’m not sure yet what are the best ways for my two lives to interact.

    I think a lot of that is going to depend on where I end up. Though I’ve found that my Twitter feed has become a mixture of professional and personal which seems to work fairly well since having two Twitters just feels like a bad way to use the technology to me.

    It seems like what counts in the end is that as a personal and professional user that you’re getting as much from the social interaction as possible and if that means its not always connected to your workplace but your teens find you, that’s quite powerful.

  4. “It seems like what counts in the end is that as a personal and professional user that you’re getting as much from the social interaction as possible and if that means its not always connected to your workplace but your teens find you, that’s quite powerful.”

    Ding ding ding! I love this quote. It is that simple. Talking and interaction leads to friendship. Friendship leads to community. Libraries are community!

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