Can Ya Improve Your Posts With Canva?

If Netflix’s hit show Black Mirror has taught me anything, it’s that altmetrics are going to catch up to us in a big way. We may be struggling with how to calculate our social media usage statistics now and pondering what all these big data numbers mean for us and our libraries, but down the road, this will be futile. If the social satire has taught me anything, it’s that all people – librarians included – will eventually have our social ratings openly exposed for all to see. So let’s make our libraries social media rating ready!

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You’ve seen the show…wait…you haven’t? You mean you are not yet having nightmares about your everyday social technologies? Well, you must remedy this at once, I say! But for those who have, or even those who soon will, we will proceed to discuss ways in which you can enhance your social appearance using the simplest techniques. You think Lacie’s life is as blissful as that smiling cookie? That’s sweet of you. Why not give her a 5 star rating! She would do it for you and your library if you put as much care into making your posts as elegantly presented as she tried to do.

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But how, you might be wondering, can your library work on improving the quality of your posts? You’re short on time and your budget for social media is nonexistent. Allow me to introduce Canva. To those of you who are not yet familiar with Canva, it is a (mostly) free website that allows you to turn text and images into stunning, professional quality marketing material fit for any social site. Sure, there are advantages to having some images look raw and unedited when you want to add a human touch to your social media site, but for official events, sometimes professional is better, no? Canva and help you achieve that. Let’s take a look at what the site has to offer.

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As you can see, the homepage presents users with some of the most popular free formats for your social media needs. Information Specialists who frequently blog, populate their institution’s Facebook feed, or create presentations for meetings may find these options helpful, but we’re going to create our own design for an event to show how easily it can be done.

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Here you can see different options for adding flare to an event sign. Canva provides unique font options, free graphics (or images for purchase), shapes for adding pops of color, free layouts (not seen here), and more. Whereas staff might have previously only considered using Microsoft Word to make signs of graphics for social media posts, Canva offers a free solution for making eye catching images for your events announcements and other posts that might make followers take notice when scrolling through their feeds.

Got an image you wish to use in your design? Canva also allows you to upload images if you wish, which will allow you to use it as a background or extra image within your creation. You can add a frame or border or alter the shape of your image as well. Get creative and see what you can come up with to add a bit of artistic flare to your social media sites to stand out and try and get more engagement from your fans!

 

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You, too, can YouTube!

In class, I’ve noticed a lot of people automatically think of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram when considering social media sites that information professionals should be taking most advantage of, but YouTube has plenty to offer too. Libraries and Museums are using the video hosting site in a variety of ways, from web tutorials to general outreach. So if you’re feeling a little ancient when someone mentions staring a YouTube channel for your library, don’t worry. I’ve curated some samples below from various institutions that are using it effectively!

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Don’t look so worried – let’s learn this together!

Promoting the Importance of Libraries

New York Public Library started a great series called Library Stories in which some of their patrons and staff shared what the library means to them and why it’s such an important place in their lives. According to their site, “The mission of The New York Public Library is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities. Through the pursuit of this mission, the Library touches the lives of thousands of New Yorkers every day, and every interaction creates a story.” Library stories explores the way each story is relevant to the library’s mission.

Highlighting the Collection

The Natural History Museum in NYC took to YouTube to share an audio slideshow of the book Rare Treasures from their Special Collections Department. Other libraries have used the site for a similar purpose, showing off interesting holdings, such as a collection of tiny books and other oddities that patrons might not otherwise know existed in the Stacks.

Training Purposes

Departments within the library itself sometimes create videos, such as this creative effort by Columbia University to add interest to subject matter that students might not otherwise find very engaging. Other libraries have created tutorials for patrons to easily navigate standard library services, such as a new website, popular databases, proper citation, renewing books online, and more.

Book Reviews

Some librarians have taken their expertise and love of books and reading to the Web and have started their own Youtube channels on behalf of their libraries, where they review books from their collection and recommend their top choices. These videos often involve brief plot summaries, ratings, and personal critiques.

Other Options?

What other options are available to libraries or museums looking for a creative way to utilize YouTube? Some users have begun posting interactive “choose your own” adventure games that link a series of videos that share a narrative and proceed depending on the viewers choice of action. Though I have not seen any library related stories so far, I can easily imagine an education library adventure that involves students attempting to navigate their way through the stacks and encountering various storybook-inspired adventures along the way! This option would, of course, require staff who are proficient at writing and a crew interested in acting out the roles assigned, but it seems a promising and engaging addition to any library or museum’s YouTube channel! I look forward to seeing one in the future!

Posting With Purpose

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When thinking of acquiring followers for your social media site, be like the t-rex. You don’t want to be too sedentary with your activity – he sees his prey through movement and lack of posts may cause current followers to lose interest and newcomers to view this as a sign that you will not provide the current information that might be seeking. In other words, you will fail to be seen as a web presence. Nor do you want to be to sporadic with posts, sharing memes and adorable pictures of LOLCats just because they’re popular and you think people will like them. The t-rex is not very agile and will not be able to follow that scattered pattern, and neither will your audience. Instead, determine what your brand is, what you wish your viewers to take from your site, and focus on creating interesting content that meets those goals. Anything else will distract them from your purpose and probably send them fleeing to an easier meal to digest.

This is not to say that you cannot post fun content when you want to. On the contrary, viewers will love you if you can find a way to marry fun and appropriate material in your posts. This may involve some creative thinking as you think of a way to tie a picture or a story into your library or museum and your holding and services. But always keep in mind what your goal is with a post and make sure that every message remains true to that mission!

As an example, let’s say that I really liked this image, which I do and thought my followers on Facebook might giggle when they saw it.

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It would not necessarily be appropriate for a library’s social media page, unless you find some way of connecting to your mission. If my mission is to highlight my library’s collection, facility, and services, I might include the following text with this image:

“Feeling like you’re falling just short of achieving excellence? Ask a Librarian how you can find the books you need to achieve your desired goal.”

Perhaps that’s not the best example per se, but you get the idea! Other ideas might be including the call number of a relevant book on the subject matter or directing students to an appropriate service area, like Academic Advising. Your page should be lean and mean without any fluff! Every post should be focused on your goal – even if it involves a little imagination to get it there!

Some social media platforms may be more limiting than others if you wish to explain the meaning behind your post and tie in its relevance. For instance, Facebook will allow you enter a lengthy text while Twitter is restricted to 140 characters. Instagram gets even worse because most followers only care about the visual itself and don’t pay as much attention to the caption. So consider your platform and your audience, and try your best to be focused in all you do to keep your readers interested in all the exciting things you surely have to tell them!