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Marketing consultant and social media expert Chris Brogan once wrote: "[Social listening] is the closest thing to printing money that I can tell you about." While social media and networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are often used by organizations to communicate information to their constituents, the real return on investment comes from listening. Over the past two years, the University of North Florida's Thomas G. Carpenter Library has used its social media presence (@unflibrary) to listen and then engage with students. This practice has led the Carpenter Library to build a reliable, friendly, and helpful online community that has inspired other departments on campus to do the same.

By monitoring keywords, hashtags, and geotags, library staff has kept tabs on what students have to say about the library’s various services, resources, spaces, employees, and more. Sometimes the tweets or posts are lighthearted and positive; for example, recent tweets include “The unf library is the MVP of finals week!” and “Love spending time at the UNF Library”. Other times real concerns or complaints are voiced, allowing the library staff to reach out online and address as best they can. The act of listening has also allowed the Carpenter Library to begin fun and engaging conversations with students, which many times leads to that individual liking the library’s reply, retweeting/reposting, and often following the library account. Over the past two years, follower counts on Facebook and Twitter have almost doubled, as have engagements such as likes and shares.

This presentation will share a variety of exchanges and informal data points that have been generated by using social listening, how other libraries can easily follow suit, and ways in which the Carpenter Library plans to move forward.


Presentation given at the American Library Association 2016 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, FL, June 25, 2016.