How 'Social' Are New Zealand Public Libraries?: An Evaluation of the Use of Social Media for Relationship Marketing
Introduction: The use of social media by businesses to communicate with their customers and to encourage repeat business is growing. Are New Zealand public libraries strategically employing social media in order to develop relationships with their users for the purpose of marketing the library? Aim: To determine which New Zealand public libraries are using social media. Also to determine the extent to which some New Zealand public libraries are optimizing their use of social media to create relationships with their users. Methods: Four public libraries in New Zealand were selected, based on their active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine the Facebook posts, Tweets and blog posts as well as the comments and library replies. Topsy (Topsy.com) was used to locate some of the Tweets. Information about the library users that communicated with the library using SM was obtained by examining Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter accounts and user blogs/websites, as well as the search engine Google and the New Zealand White Pages.The use of three social media tools by four New Zealand public libraries in urban areas was examined for evidence of strategy and purpose, particularly in enhancing their relationships with their users. Results: The four New Zealand public libraries in urban centres were found to be using social media, but not always strategically. Each of the libraries applied aspects of social media optimization to use one tool more effectively than the other available tools.