Those somewhat new to social media may not be familiar with hashtag usage and the reasoning behind using them.  There seems to be hashtags everywhere on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  For those that are new to the concept of hashtags hopefully this post may convince you try them out and use them to your library’s advantage.

Let’s Start with the Basics….

What is a hashtag as it pertains to social media?  Hashtags (#) are found utilized in social media to denote a concept or theme.  When used on social media, the hashtag allows people to find information on that theme.  Hashtags are searchable which means that people can find information or other users discussing the same topic.

You can find a hashtag for just about anything…cities, events, days of the week….you name it and there’s a hashtag for it.  Couples about to wed often create a hashtag for their wedding allowing family and friends to follow along on their journey from the proposal through the engagement and up to the wedding.

Hashtag Activism

The presidential election brought a concept to the forefront of social media.  Hashtag activism, although not a new concept, was rampant on just about every social media platform.  Hashtag activism allowed social media uses to discuss certain political issues and to take a stand on those issues.  Hashtags opened the door for discussion and debate and let social media users show what their stances were on issues.  As a mother of teenagers, some not old enough to vote, it was interesting to see the younger generation use hashtag activism as a way to contribute to online political discussions and to see them able to voice their views and opinions through a social media platform.  All of a sudden, social media had opened their eyes and ears to new concepts and they had a way to get their voices heard.

Why Use Hashtags for Your Library?

There are several reasons why you should be using hashtags on your library social media accounts.

To Inform

By simply creating a hashtag for your library (#insertyourlibrarynamehere) and using it every time you post you are building a searchable feed.  People will be able to locate you and your library more readily online.  Using the hashtag of your location (#town,state) your library can show up in the feed when people search for your town.

Using a hashtag such as #unboxing or #newbooks when share a photo of a delivery of brand new books may drive traffic through your doors.  Planning a big program?  Looking ahead to your Summer Reading Program?  Create a hashtag and use it repeatedly to increase interest in the event and to keep your patrons informed about upcoming programs.  Want to increase membership in your library’s bookclubs?  Create a hashtag and use it to show what you’re reading or share photos from the meetings.

To Advocate

As librarians we are all too familiar with the threat of decreased funding.  By using #lovemylibrary and encouraging your patrons to use it as well, others can see how valued your library is.  Using that hashtag when addressing politicians on social media can draw attention to your cause as well.

To Collaborate

Who doesn’t like support, collaboration, and encouragement?  A hashtag can bring you all three.  Every Wednesday, from 8-9:30 pm you can join a Twitter chat for librarians.  #libchat is the hashtag for this event.

What will you find on a Twitter chat?  Just about anything!  Suggestions for programs, requests for book recommendations, links to articles, and funny library stories are just a sampling of things.  Hashtags have the ability to put even  more information and ideas at your fingertips.

You can find more information on Twitter chats in this article.

To Amuse

Sometimes you just need to laugh.  A few hashtags can bring a smile to your face like none other.  Case in point? #bookface.  Another good one that will resonate with many library employees is #librarianproblems.  Who doesn’t like to feel like others can relate to the daily entertainment (struggles? frustrations?) that you encounter at your library?

To Create Community

Encourage your patrons to use the hashtags you create.  Repost or retweet their posts (giving credit to them, of course!).  When people feel that their input and opinions are heard and validated there is a feeling of positivity and community.  Build on that sense of community; let your patrons feel as if they are an integral part and they will share their love of the library with others.

To Advance Your Career

Looking for a new job as a librarian?  Check out #inalj.  What does that stand for?  I need a library job.  What a great way to find employment or internships.

How Can I Start Implementing Hashtags?

It may sound overly simplistic and odd at first, but just start.  Sit down and brainstorm.  Come up with 15-20 hashtags that represent your library and what your library does.  If it helps to make a schedule then by all means do so.  The biggest part of social media, in my opinion, is just showing up.  Build your presence and engage.  By increasing your social media usage you have the ability to draw more attention to your library and all that you do.    Utilizing hashtags will help you increase your reach by making it easier for others to find you.

What’s not to love about hashtags and social media? Do you use them in your library or on your personal social media accounts?

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