Baylor libraries connect with students via social media

The Baylor libraries are seeking to increase their usage of social media sites like Foursquare to connect with students. Rewards, like coupons and candy, will be offered if students check in to library sites.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Alyssa Maxwell

Baylor libraries are working to expand their social media connections to benefit students, faculty and staff.

Carl Flynn, director of marketing and communications for information technology and university libraries, and Alison Pruett, digital media and communications specialist, are the minds behind the social media project that began this past summer.

Baylor libraries are connected via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, but have recently begun to focus on their connection with Foursquare, a website that allows you to “check in” your location and share it with friends to earn rewards.

Previously only three other Texas universities were using Foursquare: Texas A&M, Texas A&M: Corpus Christi and Texas Tech.

Flynn said the libraries saw a need to “be intentional and take ownership and engage in our own sources.”

The spaces for Baylor libraries were already available on Foursquare, but the libraries didn’t officially own them until Aug. 27. The spaces owned are Moody Library, Jones Library, the Starbucks located in the Jones library and the Texas Collection.

“Technically, you can check-in from anywhere,” Pruett said. “You don’t have to actually be at the location.”

Tips, photos and special deals are available for the Baylor community on Foursquare.

In the future, the libraries plan to offer mayor and loyalty specials on Foursquare.

Becoming a mayor is something exclusive to foursquare. If someone gets the highest number of check-ins at a certain location, he or she will become mayor. One of the specials offered could possibly be reserving prime studying areas during finals week, Flynn said.

“Foursquare provides an incentive to come to the library,” Flynn said. “The Baylor community can easily share check-in information between Facebook and Twitter.”

So far, the Baylor libraries have offered four deals on Foursquare.

“The deals include offers for Java City coupons, free Snickers bars, a coffee mug filled with candy and a vintage Baylor poster calendar,” Pruett said.

The deals are offered to the Baylor community through check-ins at the specific places owned by the Baylor libraries.

There is an upcoming event available on Foursquare for the Texas Collection. There will be a scavenger hunt in which participants will hunt for quotes across campus. The first person to send in a picture will earn a prize.

“We want to establish a mutual beneficial relationship with the community and be able to have an open conversation with people,” Pruett said.

Baylor libraries are also in the beginning stages of setting up a YouTube account. There is some content currently available to the community, such as an instructional video for the BlackBoard mobile app. The libraries also use the site for event promotions and advertising.

“Soon the libraries will potentially hold a viral video contest where students will create a video and submit it to YouTube,” Flynn said.

As far as Facebook and Twitter are concerned, the libraries have recently seen substantial increases in their traffic on both sites.

“With Facebook, we’re able to post images, texts and event promotions,” Flynn said.

There have been 200 new visitors in the past week on Facebook; however, the number changes radically from week to week. In addition, the Baylor libraries have doubled their number of followers on Twitter in the past three months.

“Twitter is where we put out new electronic resources, news headlines posted to the library website and events,” Flynn said. Students can post problems with the library on Twitter, such as copy/printer issues, and “we’re able to help them out by responding to their posts,” Flynn said.

On the Flickr account, Baylor libraries also post pictures of events and activities.

“The goal of our social media project is to establish a wide base of engagement with students, faculty and staff,” Flynn said. “Using the media outlets provides a channel of interaction between the Baylor community and the libraries.”