First I want to say that if you’re feeling a bit overwhelemed or behind the times– give yourself a break. Unless you’re 19 right now, you didn’t grow up with a mobile computer in your hand. Although the growth has been phenomenal, take a step back and you’ll realize that designing library services for mobile users is only a couple of years old.
While for some the Return on Investment in targetingmobile users may still seem questionable– we’re really talking about branding as a good practice. We’re in a new economy, an attention economy. It’s harder to compete in this marketplace on the quality of our information alone. Our information must be accurate and we only have a few seconds to capture our mobile customer’s attention.
So to start with, this is our LibAnswers product from Springshare. There are also viable competitors, but we’ve be able to leverage this as a community knowledge-base and provide integrated text reference capabilities. We can also embed this as a widget into external websites for an ubiquitous presence.
I can’t overstate how important Twitter has become for getting our brand out there in an increasingly mobile-tech friendly community. Our users share our annoucements and provide and easy access focus group for quick and dirty assessment. It was instrumental in defining the requirements for our mobile OPAC.
And here’s that OPAC on the left– we don’t have the resources to develop an entire website at this time, so we went with III’s Airpac because it met the immediate needs of our users. However, Orange County in Florida went a step further, integrating their events calendar and even videos providing a great example of what we can aspire to.
By now, a lot of libraries are using CardStar– which works on most of the major mobile platforms and from a branding perspective it may be worth getting your name listed as one of the merchants. However, while it was free when we originally signed up, I just learned today they intend to start charging for what they call “merchant” listings, which lessens its appeal in budget-crunched libraryland.
Red Laser can let local users know that you have the book they’re looking for. They simply take a picture of the barcode and this information pops up. This application pulls its data from the Worldcat API, so make sure your listings are up to date! I’m hoping we’ll also see other mobile apps leveraging the Worldcat API in the future.
The Android platform has a great barcode scanner that integrates Google Books to bring up the full-text or preview directly to the users’ phone. It also reads QR codes. We used QR codes successfully for Library Card Signup month to direct people to a webpage detailing the many ways a library card can benefit them.
Speaking of mobile branding, how could I not mention Foursquare? There are some neat things that a library can do to take advantage of this platform. We took a tip from the Brooklyn Museum of Art and created venues for the different areas around our library. When a user checks into one, they are given a tip that highlights a program or service offered in another area.
Monitor your listing online, and make sure you add tags to help people find you: books, movies, music, wifi, meeting rooms, etc. Claiming your venue ensures your access to keeping your profile information accurate. If you include your Twitter feed in your listing, customers will also have direct access to your Tweets when checking in.
WhileGowalla is much smaller (currently Foursquare is five times larger and growing 75% faster)– Gowalla has a very distinct look that appeals to many. A cool feature that it offers is trips– you can use your librarian expertise to create tours for new visitors or those interested in local history.
Of course, in our research– Google maps is the most important listing to maintain. Claiming your location means you have a wide range of features you can take advantage of to enhance your local listing. Integrated analytics also allow you to track how often people are searching for—and finding– you.
One of my favorite things about the Google listing is that it pulls in data from outside sources such as reviews from Yelp and parentsconnect. On a mobile phone it offers one-click access to directions and your phone number. It also has the coupon feature, which you play with for some whimsical advertising.
Yelp is another site that’s gained a fair market share in discovering local services. Research shows that peer recommendations are one of the most trusted sources of information online (for better or worse). Yelp is a place where you can monitor your reviews and engage your community. If there’s a criticism, address it in a positive way.
Yelp is a one-stop shop for many local users because of its easy access to directions, today’s hours, contact information, and reviews. I like that Yelp for Business provides access to track pageviews and provides an announcement feature that you can see here I’ve used to highlight one of our ongoing programs. Recently, it’s added checkins as well.
A site that might be easy to overlook for mobile users isGoodReads. It you’re using it already to reach out and engage your community– that’s great, because you have an enthusiastic audience. But adding your events to the site’s listings also means that when bibliophiles turn here for something to do in your town– they can’t forget the library!
I hope we all know LibraryThing. What a prime audience for libraries! Adding your venues to the local listings doesn’t just ensure your presence on the site, it also populates their cool “Local Books” app as well. Integrate your Twitter feed and events calendar and you’re quickly reaching some of your most enthusiastic potential customers.
Gale-Cengage has done its customers a solid by offering the “Access My Library” app. It detects your location and provides instant access to the resources offered by the local library. But I also offer this as a warning– our information there is out of date. With only seconds to capture the user we’ve made an impression alright, but the wrong one.
http://www.ocls.info/Virtual/tools/mobileapps.asp?from=pbFinally, this is my favorite example of library branding for mobiles– again this time from the Orange County Library System. The library is instantly recognizable on the opening screen and this app shows that we can be fun and remain relevant for a changing user base. Since it integrates with the ILS, it provides instant access to hold requests.
I hope I’ve inspired a few simple and relatively commitment-free ways to put your brand out there for mobile users. Three key takeaways for success are:Be accurate–you only have seconds to make an impression.Track your analytics and adjust accordinglyHave fun! You’ll get a lot more attention if you do.
Branding for Mobile Success Matthew Hamilton Library Innovation and Technology Manager Boulder Public Library
Raise your hand if this was your first mobile computing device!
We’re talking about the Attention Marketplace… Like it or not, we’re competing for everyone’s attention, and especially with mobile users– that window of opportunity is limited.
Gowalla Very similar to Foursquare – but much smaller user base Gowalla features “trips” instead of “tips”. Libraries can build local tours and then help visitors or those interested in local history on their way.
Probably the single most important listing to maintain – most “bang for your buck” Claim your location in Google places, this will give you much greater control as well as analytics