Using social media to build your brand – what we can glean from an academic’s perspective

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a session by Massey University’s Dr Cat Pause on using social media to promote your research.  I follow Cat on several social media platforms, and as someone who talks to academics about social media, I was interested to see what a real live academic  had to say to her peers on the subject. Is my advice on the right track?  I’ve now tweaked my report on her session to give some insights into how practising librarians and those involved in library research may use social media to build their personal brand.

Studying librarianship or interested in evidence based practice? Sign up to This is a bit like LinkedIn but specifically designed for the academic community.  Here you can set yourself up with a profile, add your research papers, and search for other researchers. will also alert you if anyone has come to your page on their search via a Google search. (She did also acknowledge other sites such as Researchgate but didn’t go into those in any detail, so it seems like is her choice here).

Next up was blogging. If you want to blog, Cat made the point that it is important to think about what purpose your blog will serve, and how often you plan to update it. Cat publishes something on the 5th of every month – so she makes a commitment to just blog once a month. She doesn’t subscribe to the view that if you aren’t blogging everyday you are doing it wrong.

Are you engaged in library research? Cat does most of her writing on social media first and this helps her develop her thoughts for her academic output. She does recommend researchers  “keep the good stuff” for their journal articles.

Tumblr was next. I’ve dabbled in this site myself but it doesn’t consistently hold my interest. Cat describes it as a “multimedia twitter” and apparently it is where the cool kids hang out 😉 If you have access to Library Life (is that still restricted to members only?) then check out Donna Robertson’s feature on Tumblr in the 13th August issue. I loved the quote that Tumblr is the “best baby that Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they had” – so great for those who want to do more than tweet, but who don’t want to commit to producing lengthy blog posts. Check out for an example of Tumblr being used by an academic. I know one New Zealand Library uses Tumblr, but are any librarians using it for their library related stuff?

And then of course there is Twitter. Cat talked about how it allows you to participate in conferences that you aren’t at – and plenty of library folk do just that as well. If you are presenting at a conference, you can use set up and synch tweets to go out as you do your presentation. I have to say this is a god send if you are at a conference – being able to retweet the speaker’s tweets is an incredibly handy shortcut. Cat says she probably uses Twitter more for communicating with other academics she doesn’t know, rather than using email – something about it being less threatening I think. She did say it was highly effective for doing something that academics don’t talk about much – and that is “building your brand”. I don’t think this is a thing librarians talk about much either! In the academic world, Inger Mewburn , who is the  @thesiswhispherer  on Twitter is one of the show stopper examples of someone who has done built a personal brand.

There was a brief mention of Facebook – and how you can set up a profile page rather than a personal page to allow people to like you. Check out Linda Bacon’s Facebook page an example in an academic setting.

Cat also has a Youtube channel where she can showcase her media appearances.

Cat’s final advice was that it is important to link your social media sites – so people can find you on different platforms. If you are interested in developing a personal brand on social media, think about whether you should focus on one area – for instance she focuses her on fat issues, rather than her other interests. This avoids diluting your brand.

Is personal brand building important to you as a Librarian? I’d be interested in your comments!

Great post on libraries and social media

If you have any involvement with social media in your library, be sure to check out Nancy Dowd’s post Social Media: Libraries are posting, but is anyone listening?

Some of the points that resonated with me:

1. The importance of having a plan “Without direction, social media content creators can be at risk of working in silos without any strategy to communicate their brand, connect to services, or drive people to the library or its website”

2. Think visually and mix in a little fun with “real” content

3. When it comes to who looks after social media “select people with the right skill set, then provide them with a framework of principles and goals, then let them have fun”




Facebook and New Zealand organizations – a PR perspective

I recently had the opportunity to hear a talk by Dr Kane Hopkins (School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University) on how New Zealand organisations are using Facebook*.

First up were his 3 takeaways for the session:
1. Facebook is best used as a space to interact with customers (via likes etc) – it is not an easy way to sell or market
2. “Likes”will enthusiastically engage with an organization
3. Much of what happens is meaningless!

Facebook is:
– a communication space – not a marketing space – it’s about people expressing who they are and who they like
– a customer services tool – people like organizations and then post customer services queries – this has created a burden for some organizations

Facebook observations:
– “liking” is easy – but pretty meaningless. For instance people can like something but not necessarily back that up by donating money – the exception is where likers have a strong attachment to causes they support (e.g Paws for Justice)
– because of this, Facebook on its own is not enough. Organizations successful on Facebook – like Paws for Justice – use it as just another communication channel
–  photos are king on social media – people are interested in photos of other people and spend more time looking at them than videos (this is worth keeping in mind!)

The actual research looked at 12 organizations – and posts over 21 days (these could be posts from the organisation themselves, or posts others had put on the organisation’s wall). The four models of PR (Grunig + Hunt, 1984) were applied to the Facebook communications of the organizations studied. On Facebook most for the PR activities of the organizations observed were in the areas of customer service, stakeholder engagement and events.

The challenge!
– organizations need to be smart – a Facebook presence may not be useful – and just because everyone else is on it, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you
– it is very difficult for a brand to establish itself on Facebook – big brands do well because they are big – so they will get a lot of fans (e.g. Coke)
– Facebook keep changing the rules which is becoming a problem with administering pages
– how does an organization keep people interested so they continue to appear in people’s news feeds?

The good news for organizations:

– people want to engage with you (especially younger people)
– Facebook pages provide venues for fans to voice opinions
– Facebook is a great source of marketing intelligence (e.g. Air NZ asking people where they would like to go)

Kane is undertaking more research in this area – and it will be fascinating to see what comes out of that. It is clear that it is still early days for understanding Facebook – and despite claims to the contrary out there, it is very difficult to be an expert on it!

*Kane’s presentation was base onresearch by a Massey University Master’s student – I’ve yet to get their details.

Great book on social media tactics

One book I have been really impressed with lately is 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide by Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman. The authors make the assumption that you have already devised your social media strategy, and  point out that their book isn’t intended to be one about strategy. Having said that they do offer a very simple four-step approach based on the POST method:

1. People – where are your constituents engaging and how can you best reach them?
2. Objectives – What do you want to accomplish?
3. Strategy – What do you want things to look like when you’re done?
4. Technology – How are you going to get there?

The book is organised around 5 sections – Setup, Communicate, Engage, Fundraise and Measure. Within these sections there are a number of individual tactics. For instance under Communicate, tactic 34 is Add events to your Facebook page while under Measure, tactic 99 is Create a Social Media Listening Dashboard. Then for each tactic there is extremely practical advice around What You Need, How to Do It and A Closer Look (which gives more specific detailed advice about tactics). Practical real-life examples from non-profits are also included. There is also an accompanying website detailing new case studies and tactics.

All in all, this is one of the most practical and user-friendly books on social media I have come across!

Tips for using Facebook insights

As a Facebook page administrator I must confess I still haven’t got my head around what the Facebook insights feature has to offer. I see one of my favourite social media bloggers (and fellow kiwi) Simone McCallum has written this post on exactly that subject.

If you are looking for interesting people to follow on Twitter I’d recommend Simone – her Twitter name is @simonemccallum

For those of us struggling …

… with what to post where when it comes to social media – check out Simone McCallum’s excellent post on that subject. Straighforward useful advice – brilliant.

… with completing their revalidation journals (this one is only relevant to my Kiwi colleauges!) – check out Sally Pewhairangi’s article that highlights how her Daily News posts can help. A big shout out for Sally for helping us overcome obstacles 🙂

Survey for NZ librarians on social media and identity

Brenda Chawner and Timothy Greig, School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, are running a survey on the use of social media by New Zealand librarians – particularly as it relates to online identity. You can access the survey here.  The following is the information provided about the survey from that site:

Social media services are web-based tools that allow people to share information in a variety of formats, and to connect with each other in multiple ways, including one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. Examples of social media include blogs, wikis, microblogs, social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and content-sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube.

This survey is designed to find out which social media services are being used by members of the New Zealand library and information management professions, the extent to which they are used for work-related purposes, how respondents manage their online identities, and the benefits and drawbacks associated with the use of these services.