Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Using Social Media to Engage Teens, including contests

I always blog wearing a tiara :)

Contests: They are simple and fun ways to keep your teens engaged.  They generate repeat business.  They help you appeal to a wide variety of interests.  In short, they work for teen librarians.  Last week we discussed why I love them and I shared one of my favorite ones, the teen TSRC artwork contest.  And as I mentioned, I spent many years making contest sheets and doing contests once every 2 weeks.  The turn over helped keep a steady flow of interest.  Now a days, you can use social media sites to keep teens engaged daily. 

You can do the simplest of things, and it allows you the opportunity to be spontaneous.  Have an idea?  You can just throw it up on your Facebook page or Twitter and run with it.  Social media affords us all the opportunity to embrace creativity or respond to a suddenly popular trend.  You can throw out book quotes and ask teens to guess the book.  Or, you can throw out some pictures and ask teens to guess what the picture is from or depicting.

When discussing marketing you hear the term branding come up frequently.  You can create some regular features as a part of your social media site and they become a type of brand; something that your teen patrons come to look forward to and immediately associate with your library.  For example, on Fridays, we have “Friday Fill-Ins” on the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox Facebook page.  This is a regular feature where I write a sentence and ask my audience to fill in the blanks.  It is a way of engaging your audience and getting feedback from them.  Other sites have things like Funny Fridays (at the Leaky Boob, a breastfeeding support site) where the audience is invited to share their funny stories.  As another example, the Delaware County District Library has a regular feature on their Facebook page called What Am I Wednesday where they gives some hints and ask their fans to identify what they are describing:

My largest city ranks among the world’s busiest ports.
I am the only U.S. state that calls my counties parishes.
I was influenced by both French and Spanish settlers.
Tourists know me for my jazz and annual Mardi Gras celebration.
What state am I?
The answer: Louisiana
(Delaware County District Library Facebook page, January 4, 2012)

By creating these types of regular features on your library’s social media pages, you develop a relationship with your teen patrons.  They know that you are inviting them to participate and creating opportunities for destination events.  They know that on Thursday nights they can watch The Vampire Diaries on the CW and on Friday mornings they can expect a fun post for their favorite teen services librarian.

Just as you have to spend time with your teens in the library and build a rapport, you need to spend time with your teens online and cultivate that same type of rapport.  Teens spend a lot of time online using social media sites, so we need to meet them where they are and use the tools effectively.  We need to be willing to have fun with it and reveal a little bit of ourselves while still remaining appropriate levels of privacy.  So don’t be afraid to get online and be whimsical, spirited, passionate – be engaging.

For a good example of someone who uses Twitter well, check out Sarah Dessen.  She is funny and personable and really connects with her followers.  Over the weekend she started a Twitter feed for her rooster, Foghorn, and overnight he received over 500 followers.  There are a wide variety of authors using Twitter, and many bloggers as well.  Here are some things you should know about Twitter:

1)  It is addictive (much like Pinterest)
2) If you follow the right feeds, it CAN be a good source of news and information.  Many publishers, authors and news channels have feeds and link you to up to date articles and information.  I found a variety of sources that I did not previously know about that have proven useful.
3) Sarah Dessen is hysterical.  As is her rooster.
4) John Green is just as awesome as you would imagine.
5) You can follow the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox @TLT16
6) Most of the professional journals you use have feeds and they provide supplemental information
7) You can use Twitter to host a chat or discussion, or watch a show with your teens and comment about it that way.
8) Many readers like to post quotes as they are reading.
9) Mtv talks a lot about Jersey Shore in their feed. It is as annoying as you think it would be.
10) If you search #the2012project you will see pictures of teens reading and using their libraries and it is wicked cool.

A couple of words of caution about using social media:
I recommend you set up a library page attached to your library e-mail account or a dummy e-mail account as opposed to your personal e-mail account.  One, this creates appropriate boundaries between your work and personal accounts.  Two, if you leave to take another position they can maintain access to these accounts and keep the fan base.

I also recommend you set up your Facebook account as a page and don’t deal with friend requests.  Your teens can choose to follow your Facebook page by “liking” it and you don’t get access to their FB page and they don’t get access to yours.  I think there are some appropriate boundaries you want to keep when working with teens.

Next blog post, I will share with you a contest that you can use on your social media site already packaged for you.

Make the Most of Your Teen Services FB Page

Hopefully, you have a teen services FB page.  This is a great way for you to remind teens of upcoming programs, new books, popular culture tidbits, great homework sites and have fun, informal contests and chats.  When creating a teen services FB page, make sure it is not tied to your personal account but to your library or work e-mail, always keep your personal stuff personal.  Your library may want to explore creating a social media policy to help outline what staff can and can’t do using the library’s FB page (here is an example http://lis768.tametheweb.com/libraryschool/2011/02/20/a-public-library-social-media-policy/).  But in addition to having a main library page, you should have teen centric one that allows you to meet your teens in their world./


Here is a look at some of the fun things you can do with your FB account, some of which I have done and others I have simply stolen :)  I mean borrowed . . . I am, after all, a librarian!

Remember, the goal of your page is to Engage, Promote and Share

      
Promote Your Collection, Favorite Titles, Programs, Services and More

 

Start off each week with First Day, First Lines – post a first line from a new book, or an old favorite.  This is a simple way to do some basic online RA.  Or, do popular lines and see if teens can guess which book it is from.

Save your event fliers as a .jpeg and post them on your site to promote upcoming events.  This gives you something visual to share when inviting teens to programs.  You can also do this with RA slides and posters.
  
Share Book Trailers – make your own (you can use tools like MovieMaker or Animoto) or repost other.  There are great sites for these and you can just search Teen Book Trailers on YouTube.  Naomi Bates has a great tutorial on making book trailers at http://www.screenr.com/user/naomibates and she shares her book trailers at http://www.nisdtx.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=3590

Have an online scavenger hunt: Ask a question that requires teens to use your online catalog or databases to answer.  Your teens will learn library resources and research skills while having fun.

Don’t forget your magazine collection.  Most of your magazines have online counterparts – send a link to the headline and invite your teens to come in and browse through your mags.

Teen Title Teasers – Scramble book titles and see if teens can unscramble them to get the correct book title, or doing an secret code type of thing.  It’s a fun way to promote materials.
Share your book reviews – keep it positive but honest.
Online RA – Have a weekly day and time for a chat session, or post RA lists like If You Like Twilight . . . you will also like (And here’s a cool tool, you can take the graphics from this very page and post them on your page.  Yep, that’s what they are there for).
Get Your Teens Engaged: Involved, Creating, Voting and Discussing
Take pictures of your teens in your teen area or at programs and post them (make sure you abide by your library’s photo policy if you have one).  This is a great way to do a Look Who Go Caught Reading type of thing.  You can show teens in action, or get creative and make awesome pics using a variety of tools.  If you have an iPhone, there are a variety of apps you can use to make excellent, creative pictures with little time and effort and they are easy to upload.

Made with the WordFoto app on iPhone

Make up your own awards and get teens voting.  Be sure to have a mock Printz Award campaign in January.

  
Push out links of interest to your teens.  You can cover things like news about books being made into movies, campaigns like It Gets Better, PSAs, movie reviews and more.  Spend time browsing sites like Popwatch.ew.com, Seventeen magazine, TV Squad, Teen.com.  Don’t forget to add the occasional humor like Cakewrecks.  See what your teens have to say.
At prom time, get daring and post your high school prom pic.  Do the same for graduation, etc.  In fact, you can play a fun game of “Guess the Library Staff” with baby pics or school pics.  Don’t forget that part of engaging your teens includes sharing yourself – so have fun with it.
Speaking of fun little contests – FB is a great, fast way to do this.  Post a picture of a Transformer and see who can guess which Transformer it is.  Or HP cast member. Or a book cover with the title removed.  It can be just for fun or you can offer some type of prize – $5.00 off of your fines, a bonus SRC entry, whatever.  You can also save contest sheets as .jpegs and share them for teens to download and fill out.

Have an online book discussion group.  Everyone meets online at a certain day and time and you use the FB chat feature to talk about your group’s book.

True or False – Yep, the simple game is great for FB.  Put out a whimsical true or false challenge out there and see what kind of response you get.

Truth or Dare – Dare your teens to come in and talk to you about a book, to bring you something, or whatever.  Or ask a question – what’s your favorite book and why? – and see what kind of discussion you can get started.
Pimp My FB – Spend some time researching apps and put together a program where you help teens personalize their FB page.  You can add banners and apps to make it more personal and increase functionality. 


Have a tech lab where teens create pictures, posters and more and then share them on FB.  This is a great way to teach teens tech skills and have teen generated content to share on your FB page.  You can use things like Publisher, Powerpoint, Gimp and more.  Or you can get ambitious and let teens make their own videos (outside the library or part of a program) to share.  You can even get them to make commercials for your library or SRC, book trailers (see above) and more. 
Post movie and tv clips and trailers.  You can share the newest Breaking Dawn trailer with your teens.  Or a funny clip from Hannah Montana that features John Cena as part of the WWE’s promotion of reading www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZB1gzoz8f8
Have teens help you with collection development.  My arch nemesis is always graphic novels so I would occasionally put it out there: What graphic novel series do I need to buy, and why!
  
Post popular new music videos.  This week both Selena Gomez and Beyonce are duking it out at the stores – show them videos and let them choose a winner.  You can also share music videos and post booklists of books that share the same theme.  Or create playlists from teen fiction.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Just Listen have built in playlists.  Sarah Dessen also has a great discussion about her playlist online.
Use the new FB poll feature – it’s fun and fast.  Toss out polls like, what’s your favorite book in the HP series?  Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?  Who do you think should play Katniss in the Hunger Games movie?
Allow teens the opportunity to get creative.  They can make pictures and stuff from home and then post them on your page if you set your wall up correctly.  Do like a postsecret.com event (making sure of course to put something in the guidelines about acceptable images and language).  They can also do things like create a poster for the upcoming Hunger Games or Breaking Dawn movies.  Be sure to check out my great contest idea for this year’s Teen Read Week theme, https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=250713701621367.  Here’s my example . . .
Have a scrap and brag – There are a ton of free online scrapbooking tools.  Have a contest – have teens create a scrapbook page of their favorite teen library event, favorite book or whatever.  The images are uploaded, a voting window is put out there and then a winner is declared.  You can use tools like scrapblog, blogster, or simply do it in Publisher.

Every year I have a teen contest to have teens create the artwork for my teen summer reading club.  Have them upload it online and let voting commence.  This is a great way to get teens involved and generate some pre-publicity for your TSRC.  I usually solicit entries during the month of March, determine a winner in the first couple of weeks of April, and then put out my publicity using the winning image in May.  This generates great pre-buzz for the TSRC and incorporates teen ownership and buy in for your programming.
Make the Most of YOUR FB page 
Pimp YOUR FB page – seriously, there are a lot of tools out there.  Make sure you make the most out of your FB page.  This will take a little bit of time on your part, but there are tons of articles that discuss the best free FB apps and you can find the right one for you.  There are also apps let you create banners (or use a premade one) and you can download fun, creative sidebars.

If you have a blog, link it to your FB page.  Then every time you update your teen services FB status it will show up in your Blog.

Be sure to put your “Like us on FB” logo on every piece of paper you give to teens and post it in your teen area.  They need to know you are out there.
  
Here are some articles with additional tips:
http://www.techprone.com/10-best-facebook-applications/ – I linked to this article because it mentions Static FBML, this app is mentioned in a ton of best app articles