A new analysis of user comments on the Facebook page of academic libraries indicates that most students “appear to reject connecting with their libraries on Facebook.”
The study, which appears in the current issue of D-Lib Magazine, by Michalis Gerolimos of the Alexander Technological Educational Institute in Thessaloniki, Greece, examined 3,513 posts on the Facebook pages of 20 U.S. academic libraries.
Significantly, Gerolimos found that 91 percent of the posts did not generate any comments, and the few comments that do appear are primarily by library personnel rather than by faculty or students.
The pages also had, on average, fewer than 600 followers. And if users did participate, they did so most frequently (over 82 percent) by pressing the “like” button; however, 60 percent of the posts did not include “likes” at all.
“Developing a Facebook page as a new tool to reach out to a library’s current or perspective users, but finding it is supported primarily by its own staff, cannot be considered a complete failure, but it would be no more effective than a library repeatedly circulating a collection of books that appeal more to library personnel than users,” Gerolimos wrote. “If becoming ‘friends’ with the library and user comments are two measurements of the success of the outreach and/or marketing efforts, then we can safely say that, based on this research, Facebook is thus far not an effective outreach/marketing tool for libraries,” he wrote.
Gerolimos’ research also showed that users were not interested in sharing personal data via library Facebook pages.
“If we consider how easily students ‘like’ a page, add a group, post personal information, or simply interact with Facebook pages, then we must face the fact that library pages are amongst the least attractive to students,” he wrote.