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Instant Messaging Trends & Practice


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Instant messaging is becoming an increasingly popular way to communicate. In fact, in some environments and among some populations, it is surpassing email in popularity. What does this mean for libraries? During this presentation we will look at instant messaging trends in order to understand who uses IM, and for what purposes. We will also look at some of the ways libraries are implementing IM, and for those who are new to this communication technology we will cover the basics of setting up and using an IM account.

Published in: Business, Technology
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Instant Messaging Trends & Practice

  1. 1. Instant Messaging Trends & Practice January 16, 2008 Susan Knisely Online Services Librarian Nebraska Library Commission
  2. 2. What is Instant Messaging? <ul><li>“ Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet.” </li></ul><ul><li>-- from Wikipedia </li></ul>
  3. 3. A Live Example!
  4. 4. Trends in IM Usage
  5. 5. Pew Report: How Americans use instant messaging (2004) Who uses IM? How often? <ul><li>42% of Internet users reported using IM. </li></ul><ul><li>36% of IM users said they IM every day. </li></ul><ul><li>63% said they used IM at least several times a week. </li></ul>* American Adults, 18 and over
  6. 6. Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking Survey (2004) IM usage by age group Based on Internet users: Gen Y (ages 18-27, born 1977 or later) 62% Gen X (ages 28-39, born 1965-1976) 37% Trailing Boomers (ages 40-49, born 1955-1964) 33% Leading Boomers (ages 50-58, born 1946-1954) 29% Matures (ages 59-68, born 1936-1945) 25% After Work (ages 69+, born 1935 or earlier) 29%
  7. 7. AOL’s Third Annual Instant Messaging Survey (2005) IM vs. Email <ul><li>Thirty-eight percent (38%) of IM users said they send more IMs than emails. </li></ul><ul><li>Two-thirds (66%) of teens and young adults (ages 13-21) said they send more IMs than emails. </li></ul>
  8. 8. AOL’s Third Annual Instant Messaging Survey (2005) IM at work <ul><li>26% of employed instant messaging (IM) users said they use IM in the workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>77% of these at-work IM users feel that IM has had a positive impact on their work lives. </li></ul>
  9. 9. AOL’s Third Annual Instant Messaging Survey (2005) How do people use IM at work? <ul><li>Communicate with colleagues: 58% </li></ul><ul><li>Get a quick answer on a business matter: 49% </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate with clients or customers: 28% </li></ul><ul><li>Exchange files: 25% </li></ul><ul><li>Send and receive information while on a conference call: 24% </li></ul><ul><li>Say things they wouldn’t document in email: 23% </li></ul><ul><li>Check in with kids after school: 22% </li></ul>
  10. 10. Pew Report: Teens and Technology (2005) Teens & IM <ul><li>75% of online teens – or about two-thirds of all teenagers – use instant messaging. </li></ul><ul><li>29% of teens who use IM or text messaging will use it to communicate with their parents. </li></ul><ul><li>78% of teens who use IM said they used it to talk about homework, tests, or school work. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Email is something you use </li></ul><ul><li>to talk to old people.” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Recommendation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… social networking is increasingly used as a communications and collaboration tool of choice in businesses and higher education. As such, it would be wise for schools, whose responsibility it is to prepare students to transition to adult life with the skills they need to succeed in both arenas, to reckon with it.” </li></ul></ul>National School Boards Association Report: Creating & Connecting (2007) Social Networking in Schools
  12. 12. <ul><li>Recommendation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ It’s important for policymakers to see and try out the kinds of creative communications and collaboration tools that students are using – so that their perceptions and decisions about these tools are based on real experiences.” </li></ul></ul>National School Boards Association Report: Creating & Connecting (2007) Social Networking in Schools
  13. 13. IM Trends in Libraries
  14. 14. How do libraries & librarians use IM? <ul><li>To communicate with coworkers in their own library </li></ul><ul><li>To network & collaborate with colleagues in other libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See Librarians who IM ( </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To offer IM reference service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See Libraries Using IM Reference ( </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Reasons to use IM <ul><li>IM is free (minus staff time) </li></ul><ul><li>Millions of our patrons use IM every day </li></ul><ul><li>For some, not being available via IM is like not having a telephone number </li></ul><ul><li>Staff can communicate in-house using IM </li></ul><ul><li>IM is user-centered and builds relationships with library users </li></ul>From Aaron Schmidt’s “10 points on IM in libraries”
  16. 16. Chicago Tribune Article (9/13/07) <ul><li>Channick, Robert. “Libraries using IMs to attract young clients” Chicago Tribune , September 13, 2007. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;I think we're getting people who wouldn't be using the library if they didn't use this method.“ </li></ul></ul>--Bill Pardue, Virtual Services Librarian Arlington Heights Memorial Library
  17. 17. IM @ NLC <ul><li>Network Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ NebraskAccess” on AIM, Google, MSN, & Yahoo! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted on NebraskAccess Comments form </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information Services (Reference) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ AskNELibCom” on AIM, Google, MSN, & Yahoo! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted on Ask A Librarian page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meebo Me Widget * </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. “ AskNELibCom” Experience <ul><li>IM reference service debuted in December 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Service has not been actively promoted. Users find it via “Ask A Librarian” links on NLC and websites. </li></ul><ul><li>Averages 13.5 IMs per month. </li></ul><ul><li>Most users are looking for state government information. Very few have self-identified as librarians. </li></ul><ul><li>No inappropriate IMs; some “Are you real?” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Meeting Users at their Point of Need
  20. 20. Meeting Users at their Point of Need <ul><li>“ If the library is on [a patron’s] buddy list, it just takes a single click to contact the library. This puts the library into the patron’s world rather than requiring the patron to go to the library’s Web site and use an unfamiliar service” (158-59) </li></ul><ul><li>Meredith Farkas </li></ul><ul><li>Social Software in Libraries </li></ul>
  21. 21. Practice, Practice, Practice!
  22. 22. Steps to get you started <ul><li>Step 1: Create a free IM account </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2: Find some IM buddies and practice: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends or family who already IM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other librarians in your library or system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NLC librarians </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Step 3: Once you’re comfortable with IM, start brainstorming its place in your library! </li></ul>
  23. 23. Popular + Free IM Services <ul><li>AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) (client) (web-based) </li></ul><ul><li>Windows Live Messenger (MSN) (client) (web-based) </li></ul><ul><li>Yahoo! Messenger (client) (web-based) </li></ul><ul><li>Google (Gmail) (web-based) </li></ul>
  24. 24. Buddy List <ul><li>Most IM programs let you add the screen names of people you IM regularly to a Buddy List. </li></ul><ul><li>Your Buddy List usually shows which of your buddies are online and logged into the instant messaging program at any given time. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Away Messages <ul><li>Use “Away Messages” to let people know when you may be temporarily unavailable to respond to IMs. </li></ul><ul><li>Most services include several standard messages and also let you create your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Busy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stepped Out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be Right Back </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>On Phone </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. IM culture <ul><li>Use frequent, shorter messages </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t worry about typos or misspelling </li></ul><ul><li>Capitalization and punctuation are optional </li></ul><ul><li>Learn some of the abbreviations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>LOL – laugh out loud </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BRB – be right back </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AFK – away from keyboard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BTW – by the way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Compatibility Issues <ul><li>Problem: IM services that don’t “talk” to each other. </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: Create accounts on multiple IM services. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Login to all accounts at once. Downside = multiple windows. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use IM aggregator software to monitor multiple IM accounts through one interface. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. IM Aggregator Software <ul><li>Trillian: </li></ul><ul><li>Pidgin: </li></ul><ul><li>Meebo: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web-based! Nothing to install! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Works even if IM is blocked </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by NLC staff </li></ul></ul>Lets you login to and monitor multiple IM accounts through one client. Examples include:
  29. 29. Meebo
  30. 30. My Meebo Account
  31. 31. Meebo Me Widget <ul><li>Easy-to-create chat window you can add to your web site. </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors can see at a glance if you are available to chat. </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors can chat with you in real time without logging in to an IM account. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Three Steps to MeeboMe <ul><li>Go to and customize your widget. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Three Steps to MeeboMe <ul><li>Create a new Meebo ID if you don’t already have one or sign in with existing Meebo ID. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Three Steps to MeeboMe <ul><li>Copy and paste the widget code into your web site html where you’d like the widget to appear </li></ul>
  35. 35. Ta Da!
  36. 36. Where can you embed MeeboMe?
  37. 37. Questions? <ul><li>Susan Knisely </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>800-307-2665 (in-state) / 402-471-3849 </li></ul><ul><li>AIM/Google: nlcsusank </li></ul><ul><li>MSN/Yahoo!: nlcsusan </li></ul>
  38. 38. Bibliography <ul><li>AOL’s Third Annual Instant Messaging Survey </li></ul><ul><li>Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social – and Educational – Networking, NSBA, July 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>How Americans use instant messaging. Pew Internet & American Life Project, September 1, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki </li></ul><ul><li>Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking Survey, February 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>Teens and Technology . Pew Internet & American Life Project, July 27, 2005 </li></ul>