How social media can hurt your library

photo by DCvision2006 on Flicrk

We’ve all seen warnings and stories about people getting fired from their jobs because of status updates or photos on social medial sites like Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

CNN is has a new one with some social networking don’ts

1. Don’t announce interviews, raises or new jobs

2. Don’t badmouth your current or previous employer

3. Don’t mention your job search if you’re still employed

First I think number 2 should include – “or coworkers”, really nothing good can come of that either. But the point I want to add for librarians (library workers) everywhere is

4. Don’t badmouth your customers.

We all get frustrated, we all have bad days,  I understand that, but venting on social media sites isn’t the solution and it could cause real problems for your library.  Your customers may read what you wrote, they are more tech savvy than you give them credit for. In addition to some old fashioned hurt feelings this can lead to some real problems for your library. They could complain to someone at the library, which means staff will need to spend time dealing with this issue. They could email it all their friends or maybe the newspaper, this is bad PR no library needs.  Or they could just never come back, which is contradictory to the mission of libraries, and loosing patrons is never good for libraries.  Libraries don’t need bad PR, especially not now when so many are facing funding cuts.

If you don’t care about how it will affect your library keep in mind your boss may read what you wrote, there are endless ways this could happen.  I can’t imagine a library manager anywhere being happy that an employee is publicly badmouthing patrons.  There are a wide range of outcomes depending on what was said, how the library handles custom service issues, but being fired is a possibility.

Think being anonymous will protect you? think again.  Think having a private account will protect you? It might, unless there is a glitch & its made public, even briefly, or until you *friend* the wrong person.

Your best plan is not to put anything online you aren’t prepared for the whole world to see.  Just don’t do it. Think twice before you post that next Facebook or Twitter update or write that next blog post.

Additional Reading

6 thoughts on “How social media can hurt your library

  1. For the sake of accuracy–your first link, re: the blogger formerly known as PittGirl, got fired AFTER she decided to no longer be anonymous. So she wasn’t ratted out, she came out, knowing she probably would be fired as a result. (Yes, I’m a nitpicky librarian from Pittsburgh.)


    1. The link about being anonymous? I should have been clearer, I was referring to it because of the bigger issues and problems it addresses about anonymity rather than about her getting fired. But you’re right she did get fired after she went public with her identity. One of these might have been better
      Fired Wall Street Blogger Still Blogging, No Longer Anonymous, Looking For Work, “Anonymous” Nintendo employee fired over personal blog or Another Anonymous Wall Street Blogger is Fired


  2. Good points, B. Last year I made the decision to just not even refer to most library interactions in the social sphere, period.

    Although, yes, they are sometimes funny.


  3. Excellent point you’ve made about bad mouthing customers. People do seem to think stuff written online, even when they aren’t anonymous, seems to matter less then stuff written in the “real world”. From a marketing perspective, why do we think its okay to use social media to promote our libraries’ services and interact with patrons while using the same services to bad mouth them? Doesn’t work. What do you think of CNN’s first no-no, such announcing a new job on a network like LinkedIn, isn’t that and some other networks (professional nings perhaps?) designeed for that information? I think context is important, different networks for different info, appropriate on one not on another.


  4. Any comments about a library seeking to build a social media collection? What do you think could be the potential legal issues that might crop up- to the best of my knowledge, I can think of copyright, privacy and access issues.


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