20 December 2018

Press release: Getting social at the uni library - "Utilising social media to improve relationship quality: the case of the university library"

The library continues to play a critical role in academic life, as one would hope! However, in today’s connected world, there is pressure to update the conventional paradigms and an urgency for librarians to embrace online social media for the benefit of their users. Writing in International Journal of Electronic Customer Relationship Management, Melissa Clark and Scott Bacon of Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina, USA, point out that the library is not only the repository of information sources for students but represents a hub that connects those students to the university.

The team has now investigated student perception of the role of the modern university library and whether or not following the social media account, or accounts, of their university library improves this perception or otherwise. Fundamentally, they found that “following the library on social media is positively related to a student’s perception of their relationship quality with the university; students interested in multiple library services are likely to report the perception of a higher quality relationship with the university.”

One might consider that today’s young students are almost all “digital natives” and use multiple social media platforms regularly and very much on a daily basis. Concomitant with that is the notion that education must be marketed in the modern environment in a way that it perhaps was not in the past: “By tapping into this channel, higher education marketers have a viable outlet that could be used to build a long-lasting relationship with their audience,” the team reports.

The team adds that “Engagement on university social networks is cyclical by nature, as students enter the university, build networks and then graduate.” They point out that there is natural attrition and so the university library’s social media content strategy must be constantly tweaked to seek out the “freshers”, the new students at the beginning of each academic year and to find ways to serve them better while they study and maybe even after they graduate, especially as alumni are often the greatest marketers for an academic institution.

Clark, M.N. and Bacon, S.D. (2018) ‘Utilising social media to improve relationship quality: the case of the university library‘, Int. J. Electronic Customer Relationship Management, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.384-410.

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