As social networks grow their userbases and new networks appear, they become ever more dominant as online locations for our users. That creates an increasing challenge. How do we keep active in every social network and find ways to track each one? Not everyone uses social networks. The vast majority are likely to be on Facebook. Sizable chunks of social network users probably also use Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, StumbleUpon, or Digg.
As our users spend more time on social networks and less on the general web (and on handheld devices rather than on computers), it makes sense to explore ways of delivering information within the social realm, enabling both our users and ourselves to easily cross-post information.
One challenge with the growing social space is understanding all of the available cross-linking options. Pin a new picture on Pinterest, and it can be set to automatically tweet the pin or add it to your Facebook timeline. You can use extensions to send Google+ updates to Twitter or Facebook. One online tool can send RSS feeds to Twitter or Facebook while another can cross-post a single message to multiple networks. Authors sending a text or an email can update multiple networks simultaneously. Readers can view someone's tweets via a newsreader and then post to Tumblr. Within LinkedIn, you can favorite a tweet on Twitter. Articles on websites can be shared and liked on Facebook, +1ed on Google, shared to Google+ with a thumbnail image, and posted as an update on LinkedIn.
With posts, tweets, statuses, and webpages so easily shared and reshared, information professionals and libraries face two challenges: We want to enable our users to share our content and to share our own content on appropriate social networks. Certainly not every person or organization should be on every social network, but with strategic planning, social network engagement can be a superb marketing channel to reach users and to promote information and library services. Fortunately, there are numerous online tools that make sharing content to social networks easy and quick.
CHOOSING YOUR NETWORKS
To share your own content, start by evaluating which social networks best represent your target audience. Trying to stay active in hundreds of social networks is nearly impossible. Instead, choose one or a handful that match your users or potential users. Facebook and Twitter are two obvious choices since they have the largest market share, but that varies. For example, you may find a better match with LinkedIn or reddit.
Consider not only where your potential audience participates online, but also the type of interaction. While social site use rarely completely separates personal and professional interactions, it may hurt your marketing efforts by trying to interject a "check out our new market research guide!" into a community primarily used for arranging parties and chatting about the latest in entertainment. Remember that sites change their focus, and these changes can happen suddenly. Facebook has a growing number of business and organization pages on it, and people who used it primarily for the party scene in their younger years may now be starting to use Facebook professionally.
A simple starting point for sharing content is to start with information already being produced. Take blog posts. Many tools make it easy to take a blog post and synchronize a tweet and Facebook status update that shares the title and a link. Automating these social network postings helps create a presence in as many networks as can be automated (assuming that you have somewhat frequent blog postings). Depending on the blog software being used, a simple plugin could automatically tweet and post to Facebook when a blog post is published. On WordPress, there are many, including the "Add Link to Facebook," "Facebook Like Button," and "WP to Twitter" plug-ins.
Twitterfeed is a separate service that can take an RSS feed and post new content directly to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shortly after the new posts appear. …