PCPL Online Social Media Training, part 4: Monitoring & Responding

Published on Nov 19, 2015

Official social media training for Pima County Public Library, created July, 2020, last updated September 2021. Part 4: Monitoring & Responding.

Speaker: Lisa Waite Bunker (Pima County Public Library).


PCPL on Social Media

Monitoring & Responding

Monitoring & Responding

When our readers post

This training covers

  • What we can -- and can't remove
  • What parts we need to monitor
  • What kinds of things people post
  • How to handle complaints
This is what we will cover in this training, the "customer service" part of social media.

■ What you monitor and how often
■ What kinds of things to expect from the public
■ What we can -- and can't remove
■ How to handle complaints

What we can and should remove

  • Profane or vulgar language or content
  • Sexual content or links to sexual content
  • Inappropriate photographs
  • Solicitations for commerce or fundraising
  • Do a screenshot first!!!
This is COUNTY policy, and they consider it so important that there is a form we will send you to sign, scan, and send back to us.

These are the ONLY kinds of public comments that we can remove.

1) Profane or vulgar language or content

2) Sexual content or links to sexual content

3) Inappropriate photographs

4) [the most common] Solicitations for commerce or fundraising


Untitled Slide

Here's a chart of the process.

Everything else must get sent immediately to 3 people: me, Renee, and Mark B. Evans at Pima County Communications.

Mark is the most important person on this list, because he is the ONLY person who can give us permission to remove items that are not in the 4 categories I just shared with you. He will respond quickly with instructions to either leave it up or remove it.

This is because if the removal goes to court, Mark will be the person who represents the County about the decision.

Quiz: does everyone know how to do a screenshot?

There are 2 primary places you will monitor on Facebook, The inbox, which are private messages, and the "Notifications" area which is comments, reactions (like, love, wow, funny, sat, angry), and checkins.

I also want to draw your attention to the link I sent via email to the public statement of the guidelines for the public. I think a lot of staff don't know its there.

Does everyone know how to do a screenshot and email it to someone?
1) everyone find the "Prt Sc" button on their keyboard
2) press it
3) open an email and address it to me
4) Do File--> Paste, or [Ctrl V] in the email
5) send it to me

Monitoring and responding are the customer service side of social media.

It is important to respond
as quickly as you can

There are FOUR places we need to monitor: the Inbox, Comments, Reviews, and Checkins. I will show you where all these are tomorrow.

Monitoring and responding are the customer service side of social media.

It is important to respond
as quickly as you can

Types of questions


These are the same kinds of questions you answer on the phone and at the desk.

Please respond promptly, kindly, and thoroughly.

Ask clarifying questions if the question isn't clear.

It's OK to do your best and recommend that they call Infoline.

It's also OK to contact me or Reneé if you're not sure how to respond.



OK, Inbox is done. Now you check "Notifications." These are public responses to what you have posted.

When you pull up notifications, scan for what is important. That's what I circled in red.

It's nice to know that people are "reacting" to posts, but what you are really looking for are comments and shares, because these may also require PROMPT responses.

Monitoring here does require clicking the link to see what the person said, or asked. MOST of these require no answer, tho I will often click the comment's "Like" button just to let them know we saw their note.

Thanking people who share your posts is nice but not required. I tend to thank organizations, but
with individuals, I worry that they will be creeped out so I may only click "Like" or the heart symbol.

When you are done, "Mark All as Read."

Untitled Slide


You pretty much have to assume that anything you post may be screencapped and shared.

Most of the time you won't see these, but this person tagged us on their post.

Untitled Slide


The ReadBlack post had already gotten some ugly comments that I had responded to, so I was relieved that this one seemed positive.

Untitled Slide


And this was their screencap of how we handled an accusation of racism.

I had written this response carefully and thoughtfully then checked with Reneé before posting.

Especially when you are new, ALWAYS work with Reneé on a difficult response. CSO is here for you.


Checkins are posts that people make to their own account where they indicate a library as their location.

These need to be looked at, because there is sometimes a question to the library that needs to be answered.

They also need to be looked at because, well, this is part of how we are building our community online. This is what it looks like. We WANT people to reach out to us and share photos of their experiences at libraries.

Good and bad, it is very helpful to see the library from their POV.
Please note that even when the photo may be inappropriate, we cannot remove checkins because these posts are not on OUR wall, it's on their account.



There are two interactions that we cannot remove even if we are allowed to.

Recommendations and Checkins can be reported to Facebook, but they cannot be removed.

Philosophy of criticism

  • It's an early warning system
  • Assume we will respond, but talk to Reneé first
  • When a prompt answer is needed: "Hello, this is [your name]. I don't have an answer yet, I just wanted you to know I saw your note."
• Social media can be an early warning system
• There may be reasons we should not respond at all
• When a prompt answer is needed: "Hello, this is Lisa. I don't have an answer yet, I just wanted you to know I saw your note."

Continuum of criticism

  • Upset about something that happened at a library
  • Upset about a library statement or policy
  • People outside of Pima County coordinating negative posts

Continuum of responses

  • OK, this is not right, let's fix it
  • Sympathetic or disarming explanation
  • Silence
  • Firm statements of library POV (avoid using policy verbatim)
  • Official position statement by Library

Disarming approaches

  • Respond promptly, even if it's to say you don't have an answer yet
  • Listen; share sympathy, understanding
  • Stress your humanity; have you had the same thing happen?
  • Research your answer & give them what they need to be successful
  • Sign a name; it is *so* much easier to be angry with a faceless institution
Have you taken the De-escalation Training? I HIGHLY recommend it. The class is on the Intranet.

We can’t communicate effectively if someone is raging, so you want to do what you can to calm the conversation. Here is what has consistently worked for me.

• Respond promptly, even if it's to say you don't have an answer yet
[Note: after you do this, if they reference a specific incident, try to find out from the source what happened.]
• Listen well to what they are saying – and not saying
• Share an experience you or a friend might have had; have you had the same thing happen?
[Note: try this for minor stuff like book fines. I wouldn’t do this if the customer’s behavior was truly awful]
• Research your answer & give them what they need to be successful
• Sign a name; it is *so* much easier to be angry with a faceless institution
[Note that we prefer you use your own name; however, the “When Mistakes Happen” handout provides 4 alternate names you can use instead of your own. Seriously, using a name is customer service magic. It reminds people that they are conversing with a real person.]

Untitled Slide

I know I keep telling you this, but call Reneé or CSO for help if you get a comment or review like this.

“I was told it was because…”

There is always more to the story. Sometimes what we have to do is communicate that what may seem simple is actually for a very good, understandable reason, or at least more complicated than it seems. However, you *can* over-explain and get into even deeper water. Keep the explanation as simple as you can, and stay focused on the problem at hand.

Untitled Slide

But honestly? Most of what we see are sincere questions or stories about something that has happened at a library.

This was posted as a "Recommendation" which is what FB calls Reviews now. This is a public post.

Yes, public. It's an awful story that we must respond to, as much for the person who told it, as for the people who are reading it and are shocked by what happened.

If you see something like this, don’t try to respond to it on your own. Renee and CSO do this a lot and we will help you write the response.

Untitled Slide

This is how I responded.

Part of what I felt I needed to convey was that we are a public space. The idea of libraries as safe refuges is lovely, but -- as you know -- impossible. Stuff that happens in libraries can happen in any public place.

As you well know, noise is a very common complaint. My responses typically cover these points:
--we are busy places and this in itself makes us noisy
--learning is noisier now, especially when it is groups working together on a project
--libraries, depending on their size, have either quiet times or quiet spaces designated.

I have apologized in the past for poor library design, like the study rooms at ABB that have glass walls right next to the children's area.

There is often a racist component to noise complaints. Sometimes I also need to kindly remind a customer that libraries are for everyone.

Untitled Slide

Then there are complaints about those impossible situations. They are human, we're human, and it sometimes gets messy.

This was a situation where the library user came in disturbed and took something a staff person said to them the wrong way and reacted badly and violently. So violently they were asked to leave.

I will often work with your Branch Manager to come up with a response to situations like these, and get your Manager's permission to sign their name.

In this case, the response was -- honestly -- more for people who didn't know what went on. Our sympathy had to be limited here but we had to write something reassuring for folks who weren't there.

One more thing. Be careful how you refer to the incident. Refer to it in a way that doesn’t minimize or trivialize what happened, especially from the POV of the customer. Here I used “difficult visit.”

Are you an exempt monitor?

Are you an exempt monitor?

Your role then, is to keep an eye on things when other FB writers are clocked out. I encourage you to set up FB notifications either on your phone or via email so that you are apprised qyickly of something that needs your attention.

Please set up an appt with me to go over where these controls are.

If you are NOT exempt, keep your notifications only on your workstation computer. It is not your job to respond if you are not clocked in.

Not sure? Contact us.
We're here for you.

Not sure? Contact us.
We're here for you.