3: Facebook and social networking (core)

Facebook and social networking (Core)This is a featured page

(Guide time: 1 to 2.5 hours depending upon the Activity chosen.)

What is social networking?

In this section we are talking about social networking. Watch this clip… Social Media Revolution 3.

A social network is an online community where people share information about themselves on their profile page. It aims to connect people to each other through their social links in the real (and virtual) world e.g. friends, family, colleagues or people who share common interests or activities.

Users interact with each other via the inbuilt communication facilities which include e-mail, chat and messaging (or posting) through an online forum. Increasingly social networks are being used by organisations as a way of keeping in touch with their customers.


As of September 2011 the most popular social networking sites are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Linkedin
  4. Pinterest
  5. MySpace
  6. Google Plus

There are also special interest sites available. Many other networks as seen in the Wikipedia list of social networking websites focus on categories ranging from books (LibraryThing, CompletelyNovel.com, etc) and music (Last.fm etc), to non-profit businesses and motherhood as ways to provide both services and community to individuals with shared interests.

Why use this?

The total number of Facebook users, worldwide is 1.2 billion. This represents 54% of all social network users. ‘Social Networking Statistics : Source: Browser Media, Socialnomics, MacWorld’

facebook  Social networking has created powerful new ways to communicate and share information. Websites such as Facebook are being used by millions of people everyday, and are becoming part of daily life.
Social networks are becoming the way to socialize and exchange ideas, especially for young adults (98% of teenagers use social networking sites), students but increasingly more children, adults and seniors are using these services as well. Most social networking sites have a minimum age (usually 13 years) but surveys show that many users are under the age limit.

Social networking is unbelievably popular and growing rapidly. The total number of Facebook users at July 2013 had risen to 1.15 billion, surpassing the use of land line telephones and even email for a growing percentage of people. Facebook and Twitter probably get more mainstream press than any other tool on this course, besides blogging. Not all the press coverage, however, is positive.

The benefits of social networking are obvious in terms of facilitating communication and finding old friends, but other advantages have also emerged in recent years: 

How libraries use this


Some of our users may come to the library specifically to check Facebook and/or MySpace. These users are our customers, and we should not only know that they’re using these networks, but understand how they work. In this way we can respond to their needs whilst allowing us to network and outreach to a wider population.

So, what does it all mean to libraries? Whether or not you become a convert to social networks, it’s important to understand how they work. If our users are communicating through these networks, we need to be there too.

Recently libraries around the world have discovered the benefits of having a Facebook profile as a means of:

  • Advertising events in order to showcase their library
  • Sending out event invitations
  • Reporting news
  • Highlighting their services and resources
  • Keeping in touch with their customers
  • Reaching new customers, performing outreach
  • Speaking the language of their customers
  • Educating users
  • Promoting and assessing library functions, through surveys and focus groups
  • Repackaging information

However, some authorities prohibit libraries from having their own Facebook page. Others are considering having a page and are evaluating the security, access to the site and staff time required to maintain it (this applies to most other forms of social networking).

Take a look at some examples of libraries and library staff who are on Facebook:

Social networking and the Law



When using any social networking site, individuals and organisations need to be aware of some important considerations.

  1. Facebook is often under fire for not sufficiently protecting the privacy of their users. In addition anything posted on Facebook, subsequently belongs to them and they can re-use it any way they wish.
  2. Be careful what you post, any libellous comments could cost you a considerable sum, plus your reputation.
  3. Child protection is a serious concern. 38% of underage children have accounts but social networking sites fail to protect their information online. Childnet International is a non-profit organisation working with others to “help make the internet a great and safe place for children”.
  4. Cyber-bullying and harassment via social networking sites is very difficult to control. The Internet Watch Foundation is a UK Hotline for reporting criminal online content.

Google +

Google entered the social networking arena in June 2011 with Google+. It was designed to be similar to Facebook but is designed to make it easier to manage your different circles of friends. It’s doubtful that it will every take over from Facebook as the most popular social media site but more and more businesses and libraries are turning to it for social networking and internal applications.

For more information see section on Google +.


Activities – Now it’s your turn.

 Now is your chance to explore Facebook for yourselves! Here you have a choice:

  • Activity 1: for those of you who already have a Facebook account
  • Activity 3: for those of you who want to create a personal Facebook account

Scroll down to the activity of your choice.

Activity 1

For those of you who already have Facebook accounts, this activity should be easy!

  1. Make sure your information is secure, do some background reading on privacy settings.
  2. ‘Like’ a library on Facebook – if your own service has a Facebook page like that as well. Blog about which you joined and why.
  3. Blog about some of the positive reasons for having a Facebook page for your own library. What are the potential positive outcomes and what are the possible problems? Why might an authority be reluctant to allow it?

Now scroll down to the Recommended follow-ups section.

Activity 2

If you don’t already have a Facebook account, now is the time to set one up!

If you have any problems with the activity Facebook 101 will provide you with step-by-step instructions. Don’t worry if some of the videos take a while to load – be patient! Facebook changed it’s appearance recently so some of these videos will look a bit different, but don’t panic, the basic principles are the same.

  1. Watch this video How to use Facebook.
  2. Navigate to Facebook and register.
  3. Create a Facebook profile. Facebook profiles are for individuals. Facebook pages are for organizations. As you create your profile, Facebook will ask you if you want to find friends by using your email account. Facebook will ask you to provide your email account password. It is strongly advised you do not give this. There are other ways to add friends later. As a matter of fact, you can skip all of the steps in the profile setup if you want, as long as you enter your name and secret question. You can always go back and edit your profile information later.
  4. What’s on your mind? Write on the wall.
  5. Using the search box, find and join at least one group or ‘like’ a page. Here are some possible Facebook Groups to join: British Library, Sexy Librarian or WorldCat. Or choose any of the groups from this list Hottest Facebook Groups for Librarians, however this is not a comprehensive list plus it is fairly old and some of the sites may no longer exist as Facebook groups. There is no more up to date listing available, although many organisations have tried to create lists but the nature of Facebook and social media is that change is constant and so it is very hard to maintain an accurate list.
  6. Facebook is really not much fun without friends, so find some of your friends by typing their name into the search box. You may find that their profiles are private so in order to see their page properly you will need to add them as a friend. Once they have confirmed you as such you will be able to read each others news feeds and message each other.
  7. Double check your privacy settings. Watch this video on Facebook privacy settings and make any necessary adjustments to your own account.
  8. Blog your thoughts about Facebook.
    1. Which groups did you join and why?
    2. Reflect on how Facebook can be used to promote your own library service.
    3. What are the potential positive outcomes and what are the possible problems?
    4. Why might an authority be reluctant to allow it?
    5. Or do you think Facebook is over hyped?
  9. After you have finished the training, if you do not wish to continue with your Facebook page you can log in, go to Settings, Security and click on the link to ‘Deactivate my account’.

Recommended followups

Social networking isn’t just about Facebook…take a look at some of these other social networking sites:


  • Have a look at the Apps available for using Facebook and social media in general on various devices. If not already done so access Facebook via another device with the relevant App.



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