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David Lee King

More on Friending



i just bought a macOne of my last posts, Don’t Friend Me, discussed my thoughts on libraries friending other libraries. A couple of commenters didn’t agree, and said so in my comments – which is cool – in fact, you might want to check out the discussion and chime in yourself, if you haven’t yet.

Instead of answering individual comments with another comment, I thought I’d lump a couple of comments/questions together and make another post out of it. See what you think, and feel free to comment, as always.

But first, you have some required reading. Go read Darren Rowse’s (the problogger guy) post, Defining Twitter Goals: A Tip for Successful Use of Twitter (on his new twitip blog). A quote: “Being successful at something is very hard if you don’t know what you want to achieve. It’s much easier to hit your target… if you know what it is.” He goes on to explain how goals are needed in the use of social networking sites. So… go read it … I’m waiting …

OK then. Here’s where I’m going … I think that many libraries haven’t really figured out goals for their shiny, new social networking sites/tools. When they start collecting friends, they immediately pick the safe route – friending primarily other libraries that are doing the same thing.

And that’s great for learning the new tool. But at some point, it’s a good thing to figure out what you really want out of the SN site, and then start pursuing that. My guess is this: the goal in friending isn’t to gather other libraries – it’s to gather patrons as friends.

Now, on to the comments:

Bobbi said:

“By nature people are joiners”

Have you read Groundswell? It purports that only a percentage of people are joiners. Check out their profile tool – for example, I put myself into it (42 year old US-based male), and here’s what their research shows: only 34% of my age group are joiners. More in the next quote…

“I’m not sure they do look to see who else is friends unless they are looking for people they know…”

Speaking for myself, I always look – I don’t want to friend a spam site, a person more interested in selling me something, etc… And I’ve read danah boyd, who says “… that “public displays of connection” serve as important identity signals that help people navigate the networked social world, in that an extended network may serve to validate identity information presented in profiles.” danah’s research implies that they do, in fact, look.

Kelly:

“If a patron wants to use a library Facebook or MySpace page, they will, if it works for them and fills a need they have”

Agreed – I have no beef with that. I think that’s putting all the responsibility on the patron, though. Libraries can do their part, too – by creating goals for a social networking site, and then working to meet those goals.

Susan:

“Why tell libraries/librarians that they are … friending all wrong?”

Because I have a lot of libraries asking me why they aren’t getting any friends, or complaining that their friends are all from other libraries … they see that, then assume “it must not be working, right?” Those libraries have already noticed that they aren’t connecting with their local communities (that’s what they tell me they want to do), and are wondering what to do about it. So I’m trying to help.

“Fear of change” and “not being perfect” as I recall are factors that we are encouraging librarians not to be.”

Exactly. That’s why I write – to throw out ideas. Hopefully some of them work for some people. No one’s perfect – but we can all improve, right?

“Why not talk about this issue the other way around, perhaps a post about the hierarchy of friending?”

I’m planning on that in a future post…

John:

“Then I began thinking about the great opportunity missed out by not intermingling here”

Right – that’s why we have a library/organizational account, and I have my personal account.

***************

Libraries do indeed exist to connect with their local communities – we’ve done this way before the web was around! A digital social network like Facebook or Twitter is no different. Our goals should still include connecting with and serving our patrons.

Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    I think the focus on any marketing should be local. There are benefits from getting attention on a national scene when it isn’t restricted by location (for instance, a post on Teleread about our library’s Overdrive subscription resulted in many out of county cards for us and for Phoenix Public Library).

    There were a couple of great presentations on how to attract the digital locals at Internet Librarian. I wrote a post about two of them here: http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/2008/11/whos-talking-about-your-library.html

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com Jeff

    I think the focus on any marketing should be local. There are benefits from getting attention on a national scene when it isn’t restricted by location (for instance, a post on Teleread about our library’s Overdrive subscription resulted in many out of county cards for us and for Phoenix Public Library).

    There were a couple of great presentations on how to attract the digital locals at Internet Librarian. I wrote a post about two of them here: http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/2008/11/whos-talking-about-your-library.html

  • davidleeking

    I attended Aaron and Sarah’s presentation – great stuff!

  • davidleeking

    I attended Aaron and Sarah’s presentation – great stuff!

  • http://jessajune.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    David, I agree with what you said in the first post and with your follow up… I’m a library school student who has a personal account on Twitter which I use for the specific purpose of connecting with friends. I’ve found that a lot of libraries and librarians from all over the country want to friend me, I assume because I have the word “library” in my profile description! But the posts that they make usually don’t demonstrate any targeted use of the medium and in many cases I’ve de-friended them for clogging my feed with play-by-play notation of conferences and so on. Likewise, I find it very hard to believe they have a genuine interest in my cats or the soup I made for dinner – mine is a personal account and I talk about personal things there. That includes some amount of library-related information, but not so much as to bore my non-library friends.

    Having a lot of contacts might look good on your profile page, but it doesn’t serve any other purpose if you are reaching out to people who aren’t interested or are outside your sphere of action. And to my way of thinking, having a lot of contacts is not necessarily a benefit – when I get a request, I always look at the number of FOLLOWERS an account has as well as the number of people they are following. For the way I choose to use the tool, people with a big gap between those numbers are not generally people I want to follow me. There are exceptions that I make for institutions which ARE active in my sphere (such as BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit). But those exceptions are unlikely to include a library in another state, unless the employees fall under my “friend” umbrella.

    My feeling is that a lot of people don’t understand that different users of Twitter have different goals and that therefore there are multiple usage patterns. Your recommendation of Darren Rowse’s article was spot on and should hopefully help give folks some direction.

  • http://jessajune.blogspot.com Jessica

    David, I agree with what you said in the first post and with your follow up… I’m a library school student who has a personal account on Twitter which I use for the specific purpose of connecting with friends. I’ve found that a lot of libraries and librarians from all over the country want to friend me, I assume because I have the word “library” in my profile description! But the posts that they make usually don’t demonstrate any targeted use of the medium and in many cases I’ve de-friended them for clogging my feed with play-by-play notation of conferences and so on. Likewise, I find it very hard to believe they have a genuine interest in my cats or the soup I made for dinner – mine is a personal account and I talk about personal things there. That includes some amount of library-related information, but not so much as to bore my non-library friends.

    Having a lot of contacts might look good on your profile page, but it doesn’t serve any other purpose if you are reaching out to people who aren’t interested or are outside your sphere of action. And to my way of thinking, having a lot of contacts is not necessarily a benefit – when I get a request, I always look at the number of FOLLOWERS an account has as well as the number of people they are following. For the way I choose to use the tool, people with a big gap between those numbers are not generally people I want to follow me. There are exceptions that I make for institutions which ARE active in my sphere (such as BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit). But those exceptions are unlikely to include a library in another state, unless the employees fall under my “friend” umbrella.

    My feeling is that a lot of people don’t understand that different users of Twitter have different goals and that therefore there are multiple usage patterns. Your recommendation of Darren Rowse’s article was spot on and should hopefully help give folks some direction.

  • http://librarianbyday.net Bobbi Newman

    “Have you read Groundswell? It purports that only a percentage of people are joiners. Check out their profile tool – for example, I put myself into it (42 year old US-based male), and here’s what their research shows: only 34% of my age group are joiners. More in the next quote…”

    – except I would argue that if the people are on a social networking site, which they had to join to have an account on, the percentage of joiners would be significantly higher since they have already demonstrated that they are joiners by signing up

    Speaking for myself, I always look – I don’t want to friend a spam site, a person more interested in selling me something, etc… And I’ve read danah boyd, who says “… that “public displays of connection” serve as important identity signals that help people navigate the networked social world, in that an extended network may serve to validate identity information presented in profiles.” danah’s research implies that they do, in fact, look.

    – I’d agree that they do look for people they know. I know I do, if someone friends me I’ll glance through their contacts to see if there is any name or face I recognize. But I don’t usually click on the profiles of their contacts that I don’t know. So I wouldn’t know if another friend was a dentist or a librarian. Since, as danah points out, most people are looking to reinforce connections they already have, not seek out connections with people they don’t know, I think this is the approach most people take. They look the profiles of people they don’t know when someone they know interacts with them, to expand their connections. Think Facebook, you friend me, if I didn’t know you I can glance at your friends and see if I know anyone (FB actually tells me how many friends we have in common). After we are friends you activity shows up in my news feed on my home page, so if you comment on the Wall of a one of your friends I don’t know I’ll see it. This is the public display of connection, in a way by your connection with them you are vouching for them and the info in their profile and introducing them to me. Depending on how interested I am in what you said I may look at the persons profile and possibly friend them too.

  • http://librarianbyday.wordpress.com Bobbi Newman

    “Have you read Groundswell? It purports that only a percentage of people are joiners. Check out their profile tool – for example, I put myself into it (42 year old US-based male), and here’s what their research shows: only 34% of my age group are joiners. More in the next quote…”

    – except I would argue that if the people are on a social networking site, which they had to join to have an account on, the percentage of joiners would be significantly higher since they have already demonstrated that they are joiners by signing up

    Speaking for myself, I always look – I don’t want to friend a spam site, a person more interested in selling me something, etc… And I’ve read danah boyd, who says “… that “public displays of connection” serve as important identity signals that help people navigate the networked social world, in that an extended network may serve to validate identity information presented in profiles.” danah’s research implies that they do, in fact, look.

    – I’d agree that they do look for people they know. I know I do, if someone friends me I’ll glance through their contacts to see if there is any name or face I recognize. But I don’t usually click on the profiles of their contacts that I don’t know. So I wouldn’t know if another friend was a dentist or a librarian. Since, as danah points out, most people are looking to reinforce connections they already have, not seek out connections with people they don’t know, I think this is the approach most people take. They look the profiles of people they don’t know when someone they know interacts with them, to expand their connections. Think Facebook, you friend me, if I didn’t know you I can glance at your friends and see if I know anyone (FB actually tells me how many friends we have in common). After we are friends you activity shows up in my news feed on my home page, so if you comment on the Wall of a one of your friends I don’t know I’ll see it. This is the public display of connection, in a way by your connection with them you are vouching for them and the info in their profile and introducing them to me. Depending on how interested I am in what you said I may look at the persons profile and possibly friend them too.

  • davidleeking

    Bobbi – your comment, together with Jessica’s sums it up pretty well – there’s no easy answer, that’s for sure! I was thinking more of library accounts that friend other library accounts (rather than librarians). So instead of seeing “David Lee King” as a friend, they’d see 20 “some town public library” friends – obviously not real people, local or distant.

    Nonetheless, interesting take – thanks for adding to what is becoming quite the discussion!

  • davidleeking

    Bobbi – your comment, together with Jessica’s sums it up pretty well – there’s no easy answer, that’s for sure! I was thinking more of library accounts that friend other library accounts (rather than librarians). So instead of seeing “David Lee King” as a friend, they’d see 20 “some town public library” friends – obviously not real people, local or distant.

    Nonetheless, interesting take – thanks for adding to what is becoming quite the discussion!

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