Web Publishing Branch
Approved: March 2013
Created by: Carmel McInerny and Rosemary Turner
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence



For a number of years the National Library has been using social media tools for the promotion, development and delivery of services and the collection. Currently the most high profile Library-branded activities are the Twitter and Facebook accounts which are used daily to support a range of communications and marketing activities.

These activities include

  • broadcasting news
  • promoting events, services and collection material
  • monitoring and responding to feedback and enquiries.

The Library also has accounts with other social media services, such as YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and Slideshare. These have been used as ad hoc broadcast channels for instructional and promotional content sharing, such as interviews with Library published authors, presentation slides and 'how to use the Library's services' screencasts.

The Library's five blogs use the WordPress software and are variously focused on

  • particular events such as exhibitions and the National Year of Reading
  • services such as web archiving and Libraries Australia
  • general Library collecting such as fringe publications
  • activities such as preservation developments.

In addition to the Library-branded activity managed by the Communications and Marketing Branch, staff elsewhere in the Library create niche or specialised social media channels. The most notable example has been Trove, where social media is a core component of the Trove communication and marketing strategy. The Trove Twitter account provides followers with topical links to related historical newspaper and other content, and is an ideal channel to communicate new service developments and for Trove users to communicate with the Library and with each other.

Social media is playing an increasingly vital role in the Library efficiently and effectively achieving its strategic goals. Consequently we face a growing challenge in resourcing and supporting a rapidly growing suite of communications channels, the need for rapid and ongoing staff upskilling and ongoing pressure to respond quickly and adapt to changing trends in the communications landscape.

The Library's Social Media Policy encourages staff to become engaged with social media in their professional roles while informing them of their responsibilities as employees and providing guidance in the different circumstances of corporate and personal engagement. To complement this Policy, Social Media Guidelines have been developed to guide staff in the operational aspects of how and when to use social media channels.

Library social media and online channels

Focus Application Description Channel owners + content creators
Public (external) activity Twitter Public microblogging service NLA
Facebook Public social networking site NLA
Blog Online journals with facility to comment / share Trove
Public Programs
Web Archiving
Forum Online discussion area Trove
Flickr Photo sharing service NLA
Flickr Commons Photo sharing service for out of copyright images NLA
YouTube Video sharing service NLA
/ Podcasting
Audio / video sharing online and by subscription Publishing
Reader Services
Web Archiving
Libraries Australia
Google+ Social networking site with group video for tutorials Reader Services
Wikis Website created collaboratively by multiple users OurWiki (public)
OurWiki (internal)
Slideshare + Prezi Presentation sharing service NLA
Enterprise (internal) activity Yammer Microblogging service for corporate communities NLA
Skype Multi-person voice, video and chat system NLA

Drivers and Purpose


There is scope within the different operational areas of the Library to use social media for vastly different yet equally valid purposes. Therefore, the aims of the different social media initiatives will be by necessity quite wide ranging, while still supporting the Library's broad strategic directions.

As a matter of course, any new social media engagement should have defined and measurable goals and objectives. To this end an online form has been developed to guide staff considering a new activity. They are encouraged to define their target audience, resource requirements and evaluation methods. Web Publishing Branch then coordinate the approval process which includes staff from Communications and Marketing as well as other relevant stakeholders.

The overarching organisational drivers for whole-of-Library social media activity are

  • The Library's Strategic Directions 2012-2014
    • Harness new and emerging opportunities in the digital environment, including the National Broadband Network, to engage with diverse Australian audiences, including those in regional and remote communities.
    • Support research and lifelong learning for all Australians by maximising online access to our collections and services.
    • Support and strengthen our online engagement with Australian communities through social media opportunities and services optimised for mobile devices.
  • Executive and Public Program Division
    • Develops and maintains links between the Library and communities of shared interest, nationally and internationally.
    • Builds relationships between the Library and diverse communities, creating greater awareness of the Library and its range of resources.
    • Promotes the Library's collections, services, programs and projects to the Australian community.
  • Information Technology Division
    • Develops and supports information technology services that enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Library's staff in their administrative and professional tasks, and which support and enhance the delivery of services to the Library's clients.
    • From the Information Technology Strategic Plan 2012-2015: The Library will respond to community and government expectations and needs by strengthening and enhancing the Library's already significant online presence. Areas of priority include: accessibility, social media and mobile services.


The goals for whole-of-Library external activity are

  • Primary
    • Generate public awareness of services, collections and activities.
    • Manage the Library's reputation and strengthen our brand.
    • Build relationships through engagement with the community.
  • Opportunistic
    • Research and user insight
    • Customer/client support
    • Collection building.
    • Community engagement eg co-creation of Trove tags
    • Build staff digital skills.
    • Foster knowledge sharing eg the web archiving blog.

It is assumed that these will serve as case examples for the development of goals for niche / specialised social media activity undertaken in other parts of the Library.


The objectives for the whole-of-Library activity are

  • To increase use of National Library services and collections
  • To enhance and preserve our reputation through quality activity
  • To be seen to be active in the social media space with its broad user base
  • To increase engagement with online audiences
  • To solicit feedback in order to improve our services.

We will make progress towards meeting these objectives over time and as resourcing permits.


The following diagram provides a summary of the benefits of the current social media channels used in the Library

  Generate awareness of services, collections and activities Reputation management + brand strengthening Build relationships through engagement Research and user insight Customer support
Facebook Yes
Cross promotion (podcasts, web, photographs etc)
Yes Yes
Respond / engage with other FB channels
Surveys / polls
Direct user feedback
Funnel to off-channel as needed
Twitter Yes  
Cross promotion (podcasts, web, photographs etc)
Monitor for mentions
Public relations
Comment, RT, follow, thank
Mostly anecdotal
Funnel to off-channel as needed
Blogger Yes
Feed stories
Support bloggers
Yes Yes
Not unlike relationships with traditional media
YouTube Yes       Yes
Instructional screencasts
Podcasts Yes
Talks / presentations
Instructional screencasts
Flickr Yes
Promotional images
Yes Yes    
Slideshare Yes Yes      
Prezi Yes Yes      


Resourcing and evaluation


Relevant considerations are

  • Capability of Communications and Marketing Branch to provide number of hours required of the centralised Social Media Coordinator to meet primary and opportunistic goals. This position should also provide centralised oversight of all the Library's social media activities.
  • Support hours required from other staff including the Web Publishing Branch
  • Hours required from content providers including collection areas, exhibitions and events
  • Hours required of niche/specialised channel owners to support their responsibilities
  • Acceptable levels of 'expert', trained and enthusiastic staff
  • Raised awareness of social media and the digital scene through initiatives such as the Workforce Planning Digital Working Group.


In the Library, HootSuite is currently used to manage workflows and users at a basic level. Management products vary considerably in cost and functionality. Some of the workflow management requirements which would ideally support the proposed workflows outlined later in this paper include the ability to manage multiple users, triage incoming mentions and comments as needed, support training periods by providing different access levels and the ability to monitor which staff member is responsible for each activity.

Evaluation methodology

The two aims of evaluating our social media activity are to measure growth and determine success. In addition to meeting formal reporting requirements such as the Balanced Scorecard and Portfolio Budget Statements, the Library is also committed to ensuring its social media activities remain relevant and vibrant as they inform and seek engagement with our audiences eg through sentiment analysis.

The Library acknowledges that it is an ongoing challenge to develop reporting standards for social media. Such standards must be collaboratively developed to reflect the unique characteristics of the medium and the challenges associated with measuring success relative to other Library activities. Initiatives such as 'From our vault' and tweeting from the Prime Minister's Literary Awards generate increased activity as shown in the number of retweets but it is difficult at present to translate this activity into increased use of the collection or bookshop sales.

In the meantime we can track followers, RTs, conversations, click throughs etc, while monitoring other activity on demand (hashtags, keywords etc). As with other Library activity, we can also attempt to measure influence eg RT by influential followers.


Roles and responsibilities

There are a number of key roles associated with planning, managing and sustaining the Library's ongoing social media activity. Individuals might only hold one role (such as content creator) or may easily hold multiple roles (content creator and adviser / expert). Niche services such as Trove will also observe some of these responsibilities.

Role Responsibility
Social Media Coordinator
  • Manage Library's corporate accounts
  • Publish posts for the Library's corporate accounts on behalf of other Library staff
  • Respond in a timely way to external questions, comments and general interactions on the Library's channels
  • Coordinate content creation by developing publication plans, identifying topical content, forward planning for events
  • Integrate social media into broader marketing activities
  • Train and develop documentation
  • Research, test and evaluate new and emerging platforms and monitoring tools
  • Monitor discussion on non-Library channels and participate where appropriate
Content creator
  • Create content
  • Submit content to Social Media Coordinator or niche channel owner
  • Monitor channel for responses
  • Provide 'expert' advice to inform conversations
Channel owner
  • Define activity scope / purpose
  • Manage resourcing
  • Review content (editorial) and publish content for niche channels
  • Coordinate monitoring and reporting
  • Undertake evaluation
  • Coordinate training
Advisor / expert
  • Response assessment & crisis advisory
  • Deliver specialist and technical training
  • Technical support incl establishing channels and accounts
  • Specialist content advice
  • Reputation/public relations
  • Develop strategy
  • Environmental scanning
  • Approve new channels


Workflows – Whole-of-Library channels

This governance model adopted by the Library's Communications and Marketing Branch supports ad hoc contributions from staff throughout the library, as well as ongoing involvement from experienced users.

 Work flows through the National Library staff into the Communications and Marketing branch, which is then either published or put through SM management software for a trial period, given local access and then published.


Workflows – Niche/specialised channels

This governance model proposed for niche social media activity at the Library is a decentralised arrangement which allows individual areas to independently resource and manage the work. A central oversight group comprised of nominated strategists would provide support by facilitating training, assisting with development as needed, and monitor for compliance with Library policy.

This model is in operation for Trove at present although the central oversight group is not currently a formalised activity. 

Central oversight are the strategists who work with concept approval, training, guidelines, development and compliance. It allows for local administration to manage resourcing, content generation, coordination (e.g. rostering, content approval, monitoring) and evaluation. Examples of local admin include; trove social media, P&M Flickr Commons and the Eloquent Page.



Knowledge Building

Building on existing expertise

Social media skills and expertise are gained by staff either because of personal interest eg they have their own Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc accounts or because it is a requirement of their position in the Library. Currently the latter is centered in the Communications and Marketing Branch, Web Publishing and Trove.

It is a core function of the Social Media Coordinator position to expand this knowledge to more collections and services areas of the Library. The above niche/specialised channels model is dependent on this position and the other skilled staff providing initial training and familiarisation workshops, ongoing troubleshooting and monitoring and evaluation assessment. Without this coordination we run the risk of our reputation and relevancy being compromised by poor quality Facebook posts, tweets, images and blog posts.

Library wide familiarity

The Workforce Planning Committee Working Group Two is tasked with building staff responsiveness to change and to new and emerging digital opportunities. Concurrent with this initiative is the potential for more social media training courses, petting zoos, group workshops and troubleshooting sessions managed by the Social Media Coordinator.


This Social Media Strategy is a roadmap for the Library for what is required over the next 12 months to sustain the current level of social media activity. It is the result of close consultation between the Web Publishing and Communications and Marketing Branches.

The aim is to identify the resources and workflow models necessary to achieve the goals and benefits nominated as important to the Library in its forward strategic planning.

The Strategy also outlines the complex issues surrounding evaluation and identification of success in this scene. However there are sufficient measures available to prove the Library is a significant player amongst other Australian libraries and cultural institutions and the Strategy is a means to sustaining and building on that success.


Term / phrase Definition
Hashtags The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. For example, if you search on #laf2012 you get tweets on the 2012 Libraries Australia Forum
Mentions A mention is any Twitter update that contains @username anywhere in the body of the Tweet.
Retweet (RT) A retweet (otherwise known as "RT") describes a tweet which is forwarded or shared by other users on Twitter. The Tweet usually begins with "RT" followed by the @username of the user who sent the initial tweet.
Sentiment analysis Measuring the attitude of a consumer towards a brand. In the context of social media this refers to analysis of whether user comments about the brand are positive or negative, rather than just examining the number of comments that exist.
Social media (SM) Social media channels are web-based and mobile (handheld) technologies which are able to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.
Twitter 'conversation' Within Twitter there may be a number of replies to a Tweet, which may be followed by responses or comments from the original 'tweeter' and additional replies from other users. The chain or related comments can be followed as a 'conversation'.