Montana State University

MSU librarians’ report highlights ways to build and engage community through social media

January 12, 2017 -- By Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Doralyn Rossmann, left, administrative director of data infrastructure and scholarly communication, and Scott Young, digital initiatives librarian at Montana State University's Library, recently published a report on social media optimization. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezDoralyn Rossmann, left, administrative director of data infrastructure and scholarly communication, and Scott Young, digital initiatives librarian at Montana State University's Library, recently published a report on social media optimization. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

Doralyn Rossmann, left, administrative director of data infrastructure and scholarly communication, and Scott Young, digital initiatives librarian at Montana State University's Library, recently published a report on social media optimization. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN — A recent report written by two Montana State University librarians highlights ways to build and engage a community of individuals through an organization’s social media presence.

Doralyn Rossmann and Scott W. H. Young published “Social Media Optimization: Principles for Building and Engaging Community” as part of the ALA Library Technology Report series. Rossmann is an associate professor and head of collection development and Young is an assistant professor and digital initiatives librarian, both with the MSU Library.  

Social media optimization (SMO) is a programmatic strategy for building and engaging community, Rossmann said.

“By following this series of interrelated principles for creating and sharing content through social networks, the library can become an active voice in a thriving community,” she said. “With SMO, your library’s unique personality emerges on social networks, thereby activating a rich multitude of community interactions. SMO fundamentally offers a framework for connecting with people.”

Rossmann said the report offers practical guidelines for implementing a flexible and comprehensive community-building model structured around five interrelated principles: create shareable content; make sharing easy; reward engagement; proactively share; and measure use and encourage reuse.

The report also includes examples of social media collaboration between several Montana organizations, including the MSU Library, Montana Historical Society, Montana Tech Library and the University of Montana Library, Young said.

"SMO can help shape your social network activity so that it reflects your unique community of library users, ultimately serving to expand the world of the library by connecting our users with our collections, services, and people,” Rossmann and Young wrote in the report.

“SMO ultimately benefits both the library and library users by introducing a model for connecting users with relevant content, listening to the community, and building sustainable relationships,” Rossmann said.

Rossmann noted that the same principles could extend beyond libraries to other types of organizations. In a new course they taught in the fall 2016 semester, “Contemporary Approaches to Building Community Using Social Media,” Rossmann and Young’s students successfully applied these approaches with four local non-profit agencies in developing a customized social media guide. 

Young said he and Rossmann authored the report after publishing an article on SMO and then presenting a webinar on social media for the library community. The American Library Association approached them to develop a book-length report on SMO for libraries.

“Social media in libraries is still developing in exciting ways, and many in our professional community are enthusiastic about experimenting with new approaches to social media. SMO represented an opportunity for us to introduce an effective practice that can help libraries connect with their communities through social media,” Young said.

When libraries connect with their communities through social media, the library is likely to experience positive outcomes, according to Young.

“Greater student engagement, increased use of university archival materials and electronic resources, and engagement with library services all are potential benefits to social media optimization,” he said.

Rossmann noted that social media optimization also is well-aligned with one of the goals of MSU’s strategic plan: engagement.

"MSU’s strategic plan has a goal that members of the Montana State University community ‘will be leaders, scholars and engaged citizens of their local, national and global communities, working together with community partners to exchange and apply knowledge and resources to improve the human prospect,’” Rossmann said. “Social media optimization can help members of our community engage with each other and the world.”

Contact: Doralyn Rossmann, (406) 994-6549 or doralyn@montana.edu; or Scott Young, (406) 994-6429 or scott.young6@montana.edu