From mediocre to marvellous: Social media strategy to improve the student experience at the University of Western Australia

ALIA Library

Mills, Katie; Benn, Jill

ALIA Information Online 2015 Conference, 2-5 February 2015, Sydney: at the edge.
The focus on the student experience within the Australian higher education sector is more important than ever. The proposed shake up in university and student funding arrangements, increased competition from private providers and the proliferation in online courses means that a high quality student experience is a key factor in the decision of how and where to study. In this changing environment it is critical that libraries have the agility to innovate quickly, but strategically, and play a key role in the high quality student experience.
At the University of Western Australia Information Services, which comprises library and information technology services, has planned and implemented a range of new and improved services to enhance the student experience. This includes the repurposing of library spaces and service points, a campaign to communicate the improvement of services based on student feedback, a new model for improved student IT support and the development of a strategy for social media engagement.
This paper will focus on the development and implementation of a social media strategy in the context of these initiatives. The social media strategy was formulated via a survey of academic libraries in the world’s top 100 universities, student feedback, and analysis tools, such as Facebook Insights. The aim of the strategy is to improve student engagement by promoting resources and services more effectively and enhancing the library and IT image, while at the same time continually measuring and evaluating social media usage to ensure ongoing return on investment. The strategy includes a content plan, guidelines for content authors, resourcing requirements, promotion and most importantly, evaluation and review.
Within the first few months of implementation the amount of student engagement via social media doubled. In addition, potential new services, such as services to support researchers’ use of social media and collaboration with other sections of the university to enhance the student experience, have been identified. This has led to the need to up skill staff, the creation of new teams to author content for social media platforms and monthly reporting on social media channels, all within existing resources. The ongoing review and improvement of social media is central to the ongoing success of the strategy.
If academic libraries are to remain relevant in the changing higher education environment continual planning, innovation, evaluation and change are critical. The development of a social media strategy is an example of how planning and strategy can ensure library services remain relevant and effective.

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
University of Western Australia