This is part 3 of my Inviting Participation in Web 2.0 series of articles.
So far in this series, I’ve introduced the concept of inviting participation, and I’ve covered passive invitations to participation. And some of you have actually been participating in this discussion, too – that’s wonderful! Y’all have great ideas. So keep sharing them!
Today’s topic is active invitations. In my first post in this series, I introduced active invitations with an example from my blog. In that post, I asked readers to leave a comment and tell me what rss reader they used. That post is a great example of what I’ll call an active invitation to participate.
Here’s another example from one of my library’s blogs. Our Papercuts blog included this post: 52 Questions: #1 What Did You Believe In As a Child? This post starts a new year-long 52 Questions series of posts for us – and is also a great example of an active invitation to participate! From the post: “We want to hear from our readers, so each week we are going to ask a random question and expect YOU to answer!”
What is an Active Invitation?
So again… what is an active invitation to participate? Instead of being indirect, or passive, active invitations are (drumroll please) DIRECT.
Compare an invitation to the reference desk for a sec. A passive invitation is when the reference librarian sits behind a desk and waits for questions. An active invitation is when the library does roving reference. The reference staff walk around, actively asking customers if they need help.
One Basic Way to Actively Invite Participation
Passive invitations come in at least three different forms (at least, that’s what I came up with). Active invitations, on the other hand, come in one basic form with different ways to implement it. The basic form is easy: it involves one word. That word is (another drumroll please):
You have to actually ask customers to do something. It’s a real, live, direct invitation. In the two examples above, my blog and the Papercuts blog – we both asked our readers to directly respond to something we said in our blog posts. That’s an active invitation!
Many Ways to Ask
Ok. I said one form, many ways to implement. Let me explain – the basic form, asking, can be done in every web 2.0 tool you use. But the asking might be done in a number of different ways, depending on the tool. Here are some examples:
- ask readers to do something by typing out a question
- ask them to respond by commenting (like I’m doing with this series to you!).
- ask them to click a link (say, to a library catalog book record)
- ask them to fill out a form
- ask them to visit the library!
- You still ask, but this asking is spoken and recorded – it’s within the podcast itself.
- You can ask the same types of things as you would on a blog – ask listeners to comment, click a link (and provide links that accompany your podcast post), etc.
- same as above, but it’s visual and audible – viewers actually see and hear you.
- since it’s visual, you can have text appear at the bottom of the screen asking viewers to do something (a secondary form of active invitation?).
- Many ways to ask: on the blog or in a bulletin sent out to friends
- ask within a video or podcast (done via a music artist account)
- ask for comments
Web polls and surveys are active forms of invitation, usually done on your website.
How to Ask?
Now, easy as this concept is, it’s not always easy to ask for a response. You have to incorporate the asking into your writing and talking, which can be tricky at first (especially if you’re not used to doing this!).
I’d say when you’re going for participation, you need to think like a dj. Have you ever listened to a radio station dj invite participation by stating “the 10th caller wins a Harley! Call now!” Now, don’t be giving away motorcycles… but DO remember to ask frequently! Morning show dj’s ask for participation multiple times every show… and you should, to. Why not ask for participation in every post?
What to Ask?
And now, here are some suggestions for what to ask:
- ask them to click the link to checkout a book
- click a link, then respond to something in your post
- one from my library’s media dept – ask what movies do you want to see on movie night (instead of the librarians picking movies to watch).
- what for opinions – about our website, our service, the content of this post, etc.
- what are your favorite books?
One other thought:
Why not ask customers to help create something with the library, as a type of co-production? That’s REALLY way web 2.0-ish! Think about Youtube, MySpace, flickr, or wikipedia for a sec – they don’t exist if customers aren’t actively creating and submitting content. It’s really more like a co-production, where the company (ie., Youtube) is creating the passive participation stuff – the friends, channels, ability to tag and comment, etc. And then, YOU are the ones doing the active stuff – creating and uploading videos, commenting on those videos, and making friends.
How can a library do that? SJCPL’s subject guide wiki is a good example. They allow customers to add info via the commenting feature within the wiki tool they’re using. Also check out the Gail Borden Public Library District’s Storypalooza. They are asking customers to tell stories,video it, and upload the video to Youtube. Then the library will link to the videos via their website, and have a voting contest. Winners are going to receive a prize. How cool is that?
Ok. It’s your turn again. What am I missing? What else can you think of that’s an active form of invitation? Please comment and share!