A couple posts ago, I suggested that libraries stop friending other libraries and to focus instead on their local community. (aside – If you need/want to connect with other librarians, that’s great – make your own personal account for that).
Now, on to how? What are the different ways one can friend others in popular social networking sites, and how can you find and attract friends in each? That’s a bit more difficult, and takes a bit more work. I’ll take a couple of posts and give some pointers (and would love for you to join in and suggest your own idea,s too!).
Here are some general ideas that work for most of the new social networking tools:
- Setting goals (have I mentioned this one enough?). You need to figure out what you want to achieve with your twitter/facebook/etc account. Do this first!
- Focus on a target audience – it might help to focus on a target audience, rather than to focus on a generic “patron.”
- Be human, instead of a stuffy organization. @Zappos and @Timbuk2 do this well in Twitter – when you send them a question or comment about their product, you generally get a real, live person replying, being helpful, answering questions, etc. (hmm… that sorta sounds like a reference librarian).
- Good content rules! Make interesting posts/tweets/updates
- Advertise/promote it! Think business cards in the library, articles in the library newsletter, etc.
- Link to it on your website, and explain what it is and why I should care.
- Find out where people who use these tools hang out, and go there. And post flyers, pass out cards with your social networking info on it, etc. in those establishments (I’m thinking bulletin board in a coffee shop here).
- Teach classes on the tool. Show attendees how to set up an account, and how to follow the library. Instant followers!
- Even better – do the same thing at a local chamber brown bag lunch or other business oriented gathering. Show them how the library can meet real needs via these tools.
- Library programs/events? Take the first 2 minutes and push it there.
- Colleges/high schools nearby? Put an ad in their newspapers.
- How about a local newspaper or local magazine? Put an ad there or check into writing an article for them (better yet, a weekly tech column).
You might have noticed that most of my suggestions on getting friends for social networking tools … doesn’t involve using the tool to make friends. Instead, it’s all about YOU leaving the library and meeting your community. Getting out of the building. Actively introducing your community to these tools. Or even talking to peole inside your library that you notice use the tools.
That’s the hard part – lots of walking and talking and meeting people, physically and digitally. But it will pay off.
Next post – I’ll look at some specifics of finding friends by using the tools – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr.
Now – on to your ideas. How do you get friends with social networking tools? Have I left off anything?
Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far:
- Attracting Friends, Part 3: Facebook
- Attracting Friends, Part 2: Twitter
- Attracting Friends, Part 1
- More on Friending
- Don’t Friend Me