Doing Social Media So It Matters:
A Librarian’s Guide
American Library Association
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Anyway, back in the late 1990s, there was a day (let&apos;s call it October 19th, 1997) when suddenly every company in the western world decided they needed a website. Not that anyone knew what a website was for. Was it a brochure? A storefront? A billboard? The geeks say &quot;It&apos;s a new way of doing business.&quot; What the hell does that mean? What pushed everyone over the edge was that on October 19th, if you didn&apos;t have a website you were invisible. Not just hard to contact, invisible. Sure you had advertisement and PR; you could get a message in front of people. But then what? Would they go to your store? Call your 800 number and request more information? Not on October 19th; they want a URL, and if they don&apos;t get one they are finished with you. Mind you, most companies still had no idea what websites were for, but they realized they had no choice. &quot;This is the next big form of media, and whoever figures it out will win,&quot; it was collectively decided.
The Internet was not, in fact, &quot;just another form of media&quot; — it created opportunities where Amazon is 34x bigger than Barnes & Noble, where NetFlix destroyed Blockbuster, and where Skype is worth $2.6B while telecom companies drop like flies. It&apos;s not just a new media, it&apos;s a completely different world. Business models are changed forever. Flash-forward to today, and the same pattern is emerging, just in a different guise.
“Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many).. “ (Wikipedia)
It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers Libraries are all about democracy so this fits right in
Social media is a tool, just like email is a tool, and just like a web site is a tool. Not just about Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or any flavor of social media now or in the future…This is a fundamental behavioral shift and is about a lot more than the tools that might be popular at any given moment. This is not about the tools—this is about a change in how many people expect to communicate.
Not a silver bullet, but putting your head in the sand won’t help either
Put a human face on the organization. Zappos.com is famous for this; all of their employees have social media training and use social media to communicate with customers. CEO Tony Hsieh is so convinced that their legendary Twitter presence results in sales, he even wrote a popular beginner&apos;s guide to Twitter. He insists that Twitter and other forms of open communication are required for excellent customer service; employees are trained in Twitter. Zappos raked in $1B last year even with the recession; they&apos;re doing something right.
It provides a “listening station” for monitoring your library’s reputation Comcast on Twitter: http://twitter.com/comcastcaresAgain this one’s been covered extensively but having experienced first-hand the help of ComcastBonnie recently, I rate it because they’re using social media to try to sort out one of the worst parts of the Comcast experience.
It will help create visibility for your library. People are looking for the orgs and businesses they frequent online. Are you there?
It provides a platform for unveiling important news. TJ Maxx on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tjmaxxLike all discount retailers, TJ Maxx carries designer clothing but isn’t actually allowed to tell you it carries designer clothing. You’re just supposed to “discover” it in the store. Well their Twitter feed has circumvented that so you know exactly when that shipment of Dolce & Gabbana has hit and where.
4. Choosing not to be in social media at all To me, this is the single biggest mistake any brand can make. A few months ago, I was asked to make a presentation and proposal to National Grid. In preparing I did a simple Google search for “National Grid on Twitter.” What came up, at the top of page one, in big, bold capital letters was F*@K YOU NATIONAL GRID. For two weeks running that was the number one result. Wow, I thought, how cool is that. I couldn’t invent a better argument for why a brand should start engaging. National Grid was getting pummeled in a way previously reserved for the likes of Dell and Comcast. Alas, my dramatic slide, blown up extra large on a big flat screen failed to convince. And while Dell and Comcast are now darlings of social, the utility is losing time, credibility and reputation.
“Own your own story before it owns you” Don’t let your library get brandjacked! Get your accounts on all of the major services, even if you don’t plan to use them
If an organization is unwilling — or unable — to interact with their customers in new ways, those patrons may turn to orgs that have a presence where they like to communicate (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter). They may favor orgs that listen, respond, engage, interact and respect this new breed of patron. http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/09/28/why-should-i-engage-in-social-media-for-business/
You’re going to have to make some fundamental behavioral shifts of your own!
Social media won’t work until or unless you’re ready to get out of your comfort zone online
Those of us who engage in social media understand that it is first and foremost about conversations and connections, so if one isn’t prepared to engage closely, frequently and almost intimately with patrons, then jumping feet first into social media may not be a wise move.
In a test run by BazaarVoice, Rubbermaid discovered that adding customer reviews to their website increased sales and decreased returns of their products. Skeptics said sales of low-rated products would crater. What actually happened is that sales of low-rated products increased. When shoppers were questioned, they explained that when they read why someone else maligned the product, often they disagreed or didn&apos;t care about that particular problem. If the price was right, it was worth buying anyway. http://blog.asmartbear.com/why-you-have-to-engage-in-social-media-even-if-you-dont-want-to.html
Social media is rooted culturally in showing your real, whole self “Phony never flies”—Marta Strickland (http://www.slideshare.net/mstrickland/how-to-do-social-media-right-in-2009)
It’s personal. Speak with the voice of a person, not an organization.
The stock criticism of Twitter being filled with updates on what you had for lunch is overblown, but the underlying principle is not. When tweeting or blogging or status updating about your activities, it should be something that actually reveals a dimension of your life, or character. Show me something about the character of the organization/person.
But it’s not all about you. Forget this at your peril; 80% of all Twitterers, for instance, only tweet about themselves. Also the least interesting folks on Twitter for the most part.
Why should someone care? You’re competing for attention. Make the effort count. People are really, really busy. What do you have that will make their lives better? Convince me! I have the attention span of a gnat. Convince me convince me convince me!
Think about magazines you see in the grocery store. How do they hook you? “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” “Organize your clutter and your life” Magazine companies know they have a short time to hook you and to make themselves relevant. What can I get out of what you’re offering??
Actual library tweet: “New Science Fiction and Fantasy books at your library” What specific outcome can I expect if I follow through on your message?
What is your workplace culture like? This can often determine the success (or failure) of your library’s social media efforts. If your library’s administration doesn’t get or support social media efforts, your efforts are likely to be weak or fail entirely.
social networking are only as effective as you are
Fail to be human—speak with a human voice in your status updates or blogging. Nobody wants to read the official PR voice. BE REAL or BE IRRELEVANT
1. Not responding fast enough In social media 24 hours is a long time. Really long. What hurt brands like Motrin and Dominoes was simply delaying their responses. In the old days of offline media, if something happened on a Friday, you could think about it all weekend before the Monday business press hits. Not in social. You’ve got hours not days. So have a plan in place. Then listen, respond, engage accordingly. In all likelihood you’ll get credit for confronting the situation head on. Any good PR or social media agency can help.
2. Promoting yourself before you have engaged, joined or built a community This would be like showing up at a social event and pitching yourself to any stranger in the room. This is the classic mass media way of thinking. OK, there’s an audience here, I’ll broadcast a message. Doesn’t work that way out here. You have to bring something to the party, make friends, perform a few favors before you can even think about asking for anything in return. If you come to social media with a traditional media way of thinking you’ll be worse than invisible.
Fail to follow back—one way conversations. What does a “0” following number say to people who check out your library’s profile?