Thursday, March 31, 2011

New York Public Library - the most successful use of social media by a library in the world?

I'm really in awe with the way the New York Public Library (NYPL) uses social media.

Their "flagship" twitter account @nypl must be one of the most followed library twitter accounts in the world with over 100k followers. They are not quite the most followed Library Twitter account, I believe this honour belongs to the Library of congress Twitter account (thanks to all the librarians following them?) but according to my own informal analysis using Klout NYPL is probably the most "influential" Library on Twitter

The case study here mentions they use hootsuite to handle over 100 twitter accounts and between 2009 to 2010 increased the number of visiting to their website from twitter by 353.98% and in the process picked up the PR News 2010 Nonprofit PR Award.

I have not done a through analysis of Library Facebook pages, Flickr accounts, iTunes or YouTube channels but I would be surprised if the ones by NYPL aren't among the most active (see their list of Social Media channels). 

For example they have 30,000 likes on their facebook page1,500 subscribers to their YouTube channel etc. Again they are beat out only by the Library of Congress facebook account which has close to 40,000 likes. 

But besides that, the closest library I could find with a quick search was Seattle Public Library with 10,000+ likes and even that is unusually high even for the biggest public library systems

In 12 good library videos that spoofs movies or tv , I covered their viral movie hit, spoofing Ghostbusters which has close to 4 million views.

Recently they added yet another feather to their cap, they became the first public library in the world to have their own Foursquare badge! 

I'm looking at their main FourSquare venue and there are over 16,000 check-ins! To put things into perspective, Library of Congress has 2,000+ (strangely enough my own library has 2,800+). Is there any library venue that comes close to NYPL? Again, I didn't do a systemic search but I looked at some of the biggest public libraries in the US/Canada but the closest I found was in fact 6,700+ check-ins from the national library in Singapore (guess Singapore is quite a bit ahead of the US when it comes to mobile usage).

Do you know of any library venue on Foursquare that is comparable to these figures?

Regardless, it's clear that NYPL is *the* "Social Media Library" to watch. Granted, they have the size, the name & reputation to begin with, but comparable public library systems of similar size have not I feel come close to their success in using Social Media.

It's clear to me that part of the reason for their success is that they have a top class professional public relations and marketing team, they even reached out to me informing me about their success with FourSquare which incidentally made me feel like some A-list tech blogger. :)

Should all libraries try to be like them? What about academic libraries? Is there a rock star social media academic library version of NYPL?
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