We’re obsessed with data: we’re all here because of that obsession. But as a former 5th estate investigative journalist and one of the world’s first data journalists, I’m here to tell you that the story behind the story of data interpretation and contextualization—how we ‘read data’—is an almost totally untold story. It’s how story has been lost in the tsunami of data. Especially by libraries and librarians: I say this as someone who’s helped save a branch, nose to nose with councillors, headmanned a major community insight piece for Stratford Public Library, who grew up in the third oldest Carnegie library in the US, Adriance Memorial in Poughkeepsie NY. Libraries are in desperate need of telling their own stories better. Here’s how I know. And it’s hugely hopeful story. Since 2007, my teams and I’ve helped both Fortune 100 clients and tiny nonprofits use data-driven social media to create change in the way they relate to their clients, customers, stakeholders and benefactors. I’ve learned (the hard way) how to tell stories that incite people to actually do something. (BEAT)My teams and I deployed social media with microfinance piece to raise $425,000 in five months, for Monforte Dairy, using nothing more than Twitter and Facebook and the phone. I’ve even prototyped a context engine—a piece of technology to model where stories will go next. // All that to say: here’s a question: how many of you know Brené Brown? I’ve co-founded YUP!, a marketing communications agency on Brené Brown’s stunning insight that stories are data with soul. Our first client is a Holocaust survivor, an Auschwitz orphan and France’s third wealthiest woman, whose painting, looted by the Nazis in 1940, is in a university art gallery in Oklahoma. We’re using social media to see that painting, a Camille Pissarro worth $1.5mn, is returned to her. (BEAT) So here’s the thing, the question you all need to ask in obsessing about data and social media is…what am I measuring? Well, you’re measuring how networks work. And here’s the how and the why.
But if you can tell yourself a different story—or even the same story in different words...
What we’re going to share today won’t turn telling your library’s brand stories into a total waltz in the meadow.
...and maybe (just maybe) help you give yourself a reminder that success might mean rethinking what that really success looks like.
Yes. Smuggled fax machines helped dissident organizations bring down Communism all over Eastern Europe.
The point is: one fax machine is useless. But a secret network of fax machines that ‘talked’ to each other was so incredibly strong, that secret network changed history...
Underground political organizers, using a simple network, transformed their countries...
...the same way mobile phone networks inspired the ‘Arab Spring’ two decades later.
What’s the world’s third biggest religion?
But not all networks are created equal. Thinking you understand networks can make you crazy, frustrate you and damage the care and effort you dedicate to your sharing the good work your library does.
Here’s the million dollar rule.
The mathematics of networks proves that it’s the weak connections that give you explosive results. (BEAT) I’ll say it again: Networking pays off when you target weak connections. (BEAT) Sure, you can target the ‘gatekeepers’ and the ‘power brokers’ in your network...
Quiztime. Which of these three networks is the most powerful network for growing connections that’ll help your business?
C is a mesh network. It’s how mobile phone networks work......and those black dots are nodes. Each node in a mesh network is connected to every other node.
first adopters and early adopters are both important but the key adopters are the ‘bridgers’....
‘bridgers’ are the weak connectors who allow an idea or a message to ‘bridge’ from one network to another, like this...
The ‘hop-skip-and-a-jump’ by a bridger is how networks grow rapidly......because a single ‘node’ opens up a whole new network.
It’s the Kevin Bacon effect. The more people you have casual contact with, the higher the probability they’ll win you work—because other folk you don’t even know are advocating for you
The only way to find the ‘bridgers’ is to keep asking.
Every library has incredibly strong ‘strong connections’ in its networks. But to grow awareness, the action’s in the weak connections. That’s why designing storyworlds that work mimics how ants find food
is far more important than fretting about the channels down which they move (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr). Stories that work in networks follow the ‘ant model’...and
...look like this as they move through social media networks.
...because it’s the stories that connect the network, not the technology. The storyworld finds its way to readers because it’s a ‘pull experience’—an ‘attractor’, in ant-speak.
And new social media experimenters really truly don’t have to know anybody. If you respect the process—and I can show you how—you’ll grow a network beautifully.
...because telling great stories is the key to inciting weak connections do their thing...
Storytelling by other people about your library is where we’re going with this. But for now, we’re building relationships that lead to the “moment of truth”...
...when the prospective client asks to learn more about the library. That’s the first step to new networks—and new library users who’ll share their experience as well. And speaking of sharing experiences, here’s where socializing great library stories is headed. Anybody know what a beacon is?
bluetooth iBeacons will allow instant networking w/library users—storytelling/media sharing/resource tools—and opt-in data capture so libraries can build new content-driven networks...on-the-fly
If you want strong networks to promote the wonderful world of libraries...
how networks work
(or: why telling shareable brand stories grows your library)
Somedays the telling the ‘why’ of your library’s offerings
can drive you up the wall.
...then miracles happen.
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
But hopefully our time here will
teach you that everything you
thought you knew about
worth a second look.
This killed Communism.
...and brought down the Berlin Wall.
Human networks are extraordinarily powerful.
They live to share stories.
Let the power
paradox* of networks
work for you.
*a contradiction in terms
...just like everybody else.
These weak networks tend to spread news far faster
than strong connections.
...the same way jet travellers today transfer viruses from
continent to continent—the way the European colonists
brought unknown diseases to North America centuries
Sociologists call this the ‘not a friend but an acquaintance’
(It’s how most people make connections to find jobs.)
You won’t know a ‘bridger’ when you meet one.
(That’s the whole point.)
...it truly is a numbers game.
So what’s the lesson?
It’s dead simple.
Go to Union Station.
Stand in the main concourse.
Yell “I love my library.”
The great network relationships happen because
you care about the ‘why’ of what you do
—*that’s* why you share great stories