Libraries and the Red Queen

My posts on Library Social may seem a bit negative. After all, I am focusing on issues with social media marketing. At the end of the day, I do not want to leave anyone with a negative impression. I think social media marketing is an amazing tool for libraries to use to promote their services. It’s just that this is a whole new world for some of us, a new way of thinking. This social media environment raises issues such as information overload, privacy, and ineffective advertising.

The most important thing for anyone to take away from my contribution to this blog is: librarians need to adapt. We need to embrace this new technology in order for our profession to survive. Evolving with the times is absolutely crucial to staying relevant.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, the Red Queen says “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Scientists have developed a hypothesis around this statement that  species are constantly evolving, not to flourish, but merely to survive, since all other species are constantly evolving as well. In order to keep pace with the society on which libraries depend for funds and thus survival, librarians must constantly evolve, learn new technologies, and try new methods of promoting the library. We need to fight for our place in society and for our funds from the taxpayers by proving that libraries are an essential service. In order to do so, library services need to be advertised in a way that is relevant to society today. Social media marketing is definitely a way to do that. The challenge will be finding synthesis between the traditional values of the library profession (service, privacy, etc.) and the new values of a technological society.

I like the video below because it demonstrates the prevalence of social networking in our world today, even touching on some issues pertinent to libraries such as eBooks. Check it out and consider these questions: What do you think will be some major challenges libraries will face as we move into a new technological age? How can we resolve these issues? What changes would you make to the SLIS program to better prepare library students for a career in libraries that may look very different from the careers our professors had?

The History of Social Media since 1978

A very interesting infographic that details the history of social media and its evolution. Again the site is French I’m just including the link so as to provide the source. What was the first social media you participated in? What was your impression when you first joined? If you consider RPG message boards social media those were my first interactions but the first social media according to societies standard was MySpace. I tired of it quickly and Facebook is just as overtaxing to me now.

When you think about it, the Web itself was created for social networking purposes, so social media has been around since the beginning and will most likely stay that way. Some more interesting facts about the evolution of social media after the jump! Continue reading

How can a library develop an effective social networking experience similar to the book club?

Some may look at the social networking book club format presented earlier, and think that there is no need for the library to take such an active role in facilitating discussion through social networking. After all, there is already plenty of discussion of popular titles on social media. But the problem is not the quantity of discussion, it is the quality of the interaction. Aside from the occasional favorite quote, most posts are on the order of: “Stayed up all night to read Hunger Games” or “Haven’t cried over a book this much since The Notebook.” These statements are not well-suited to promote satisfying discussion or deeper evaluation. This is not an entirely new challenge for libraries. Libraries have long recognized that it is insufficient to place people in the same room and expect them to spontaneously discuss a title to the satisfaction of those involved.

Social media has already provided the meeting space, and it is vast. All that’s left is for librarians to do what they have done before: coordinate discussion to be as invigorating and satisfying as possible for the participants.

Many strategies for effective library book clubs can be translated to social networking. Barry Trott’s article “Book Group Therapy” is very helpful for identifying qualities of an effective in-person discussion group, (WSU students can access the full article by clicking this link).  I have adapted many of his thoughts into the following strategies for a social networking book club:

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Google+ is the red-headed step child of Social Media

Infographie / Google+ est-il un réseau social fantôme ? | w3sh magazine. So the blog is in french but the infographic is still informative. The reason I probably won’t profile Google + is because it hasn’t gained very much momentum. If you’re in the social media game it’s important to have a presence but people just haven’t really taken to it. Which brings up the question of social media overload a lot are talking about now. But here’s the graphic!

Average Time Per Visit

Sample Format for a Social Networking Library Book Club

Since the goals of a library book club are distinct from those of other interactions, it is sensible that the structure of a social networking library book club should be distinct from the normal structure of social networking. There could be many such structures, depending on the library, patrons, and social networking platform. However, what follows is an example of one possible structure to encourage engaging discussion among library patrons through social networking.

The social networking book club will meet on an album of photographs. This album will be posted on the library book club’s social media site. These albums would each constitute a different discussion room.

The photos within each album would not be actual photos, but individual discussion questions, which are open-ended and engaging. The question-photos themselves would be visually appealing, using a theme which is consistent in color among the different questions within a chapter or session, consistent in design among the different sessions relating to a specific title, and consistent in branding among the different book clubs sponsored by the library. This way, the question-photo continues to be associated with the library and the book club regardless of whose profile the question-photo is shared on. The ground rules also will be contained in a single photo, branded accordingly. The picture below provides a basic example of one such question-photo.

Pinterest – The Social Media Darling Of 2012

I find that infographics are a much more pleasant way to communicate a lot of data. After the break is a great example of a graphic that introduces Pinterest and it’s basic parts but in a much more interesting way than if I just listed them all out for you. Enjoy! Continue reading

Social Media and ROI: More Than Just Clicks

One of the biggest challenges faced by a library trying to evaluate the impact of its social networking strategy is in understanding how that impact should be quantified. Even for-profit organizations struggle with this, as social media use often has intangible benefits to brand or reputation which might not immediately translate to increased profits but which are undoubtedly valuable for the organization’s long-term health. See this quick primer on return on investment (ROI) in a for-profit setting for an explanation of why these companies are looking beyond sales goals and “clicks” to determine ROI:

The video hits on a key point about ROI and social media, which is that because every business has different objectives, they will each measure ROI differently. So where does this leave libraries and other non-profit institutions, which have no true “bottom line” to speak of? How can libraries determine the value of social media to their organizational goals? Check out my next two posts for some of the answers.

THINK before you social network!

This little acrostic perfectly sums up the key to ALL social media managing. If you use this as your mantra and teach it to the library employs I guarantee that people will be way less likely to unfollow/friend you because you’re wasting their precious social media time. Because that’s what it comes down to these days. People spend a lot of time on social media now and because of that they don’t want it gummed up with random comments about what someone ate for breakfast (although if you are interested in that, check out foodspotting.com), or whether a dog just bit you. This kind of social media sharing is reserved for people, and believe me, their friends and family probably don’t want to hear about that crap either.

A business, even a library, that is trying to leverage social media to increase awareness of their mission should always keep these principles in mind when posting things to share. That old adage, think before you speak also applies here. So THINK before you post, tweet, blog, share, etc. I’ll go through each letter and elaborate on these best social media practices to keep in mind. Continue reading