Watching Local News go Viral

screenshot of twitter reactionWe live in a new world. A world in which local decisions made by very small groups can go viral, can be spread by a variety of social media tools, and can even reach global and unintended audiences. We are no longer private or anonymous! I watched just this thing unfold last Thursday at my library’s Board of Trustees meeting.

We Went Viral

By now, some of you have probably heard about the decision my library’s Board of Trustees made last Thursday regarding restricting access to four books in our collection. By the end of the evening, our very local library board meeting was the 7th hottest “trend” in Twitter.

I had decided to tweet the board meeting – I posted play-by-play public comments made by people in the community and the deliberations of the board on a hot topic. I used #tscpl as a hashtag, since I wanted to provide an easy way for people to follow the meeting as it progressed.

Camera Crews Getting Set UpAnd I started tweeting. I took photos of the local TV news vehicles lined up outside the library and a few pics of the meeting, and posted them to Twitter via the TwitPic service (a service that lets you easily share photos on Twitter). Jim Ogle, general manager at a local TV station (and cool tweep at @jimogle), was also present and tweeting at the meeting, as were a few other Twitter users.

Who followed the conversation? Local Topekans who weren’t at the meeting were following. Library staff that worked the evening shift were following along, too. Since I have my tweets linked to my Facebook status, Facebook friends were also following and participating by making comments and asking questions. Other librarians were following the meeting, as well.

In other news, I trended in twitterAt some point in the evening, our hashtag, #tscpl,”trended” on Twitter. What’s trending? “Trending topics on Twitter are keywords that happen to be popping up in a whole bunch of tweets. We measure these topics and adjust them in real-time throughout the day. It’s a great way of finding out what’s happening right now.” – from Twitter’s blog.

And like I said, we were the 7th hottest trend for a while – sure wish I had a screenshot of that! The screenshot I DID get is from my iPhone, capturing some Twitter Trend-watching services that noticed our hashtag was trending.

We Went Global

The next day, the conversation continued, and it went global. People continued tweeting about the meeting and the decision, and I posted news stories as I found them. An AP reporter was at the Thursday meeting, so we made the AP newswire… and we quickly made the USAToday, the International Herald Tribune, and the Taipei Times, of all places. And of course the usual libraryrelated news sites noticed.

Some unintended but interesting sites: two adult industry news sites (found via twitter searches for tscpl and topeka), some book industry news sites, and a children’s rights group. With some of these, I’m guessing they follow a combination of keyword searches and RSS feeds – they primarily picked up the AP story.

The conversation on those sites is continuing, since many of them allow comments on each article! It’s actually quite interesting to compare the local comments on the Topeka newspaper story to the comments on the USAToday story (98 comments so far).

We’re No Longer Private

What’s this all mean? That Twitter works great as a real-time information spreader and conversation starter. That people are interested even in seemingly local stuff. That … yes … even your small library board meeting is no longer private.

The WORLD is watching.

Friend Customers like Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk has some good things to say about social media. Here’s one example (embedded above) discussing how to “make friends” – watch it, then let’s discuss.

In this video, Gary talks about how to participate in social networks and how to friend people – this is essential for libraries! Some big points from his video:

  • think of the internet as a big conference or room or a mixer – in those settings, you find a group to talk to and jump right in
  • in social networks, you do the very same thing – you walk in, and you start saying hello (it’s not stalking)
  • if people are putting stuff out there, they know that people can see it (so it’s really ok to friend them)

Take-aways? Don’t be scared to friend people. Set up a library twitter account, facebook or myspace account, etc… then search for people using those tools who live in your community, and say hello by friending them.

Then start participating in their conversations.

OK – someone will say “but David, that’s weird.” No it’s not – it’s how the emerging online world works. Businesses are already doing this successfully (ie., Gary’s doing just this thing for his Wine business).

Aaron’s Notes on Spool’s Talk

Aaron Schmidt (cool guy and Walking Paper blogger), attended Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering Roadshow Portlandand he took notes!

Jared spoke about User Experience (UX) – Good jems here:

  • the great netflix experience is invisible. bad design is apparent
  • the guy putting info into the database determines part of the user experience
  • eliminate major redesigns! [krug] break designs into small chunks
  • it is necessary for employees to understand everything
  • customers lean towards competitors with simpler UX
  • identify essential functionality and experience

And the best tidbit, which relates to my post from yesterday:

must have basic functionality before you can concentrate on delight

Go read the whole thing, and thanks Aaron for taking notes!

*pic by Jesper Rønn-Jensen*

Where Will David be this Spring and Summer?

Speaking at the National Library of SpainI’ll be doing a bit of speaking, traveling, and conference attending this year – here’s where I’ll be through July:

  • February 25 – Webcast for SLA, Basics of Website Management, Part 2 (ok – no traveling on this one. Yay!)
  • March 12-17 – SXSWi (attending and geeking out)
  • March 28-April 2 – Computers in Libraries (one presentation, two preconference presentations)
  • April 22 – SEFLIN, North Miami, FL area – two presentations
  • April 24 – Lincoln City Libraries (Lincoln, NE) staff day
  • May 6 – Massachusetts Library Association
  • May 7 – Capital District Library Council, Albany, NY
  • June 19 – NEFLIN, Jacksonville, FL
  • July 9-15 – ALA in Chicago

And more to come, I’m sure. Make sure to say hi – always more fun when I know people!

Experience Economy Goes by Many Names

Experience is called many thingsJoseph Pine and James Gilmore noticed this thing they called the Experience Economy. They think we’ve moved beyond purchasing mere goods and services – now, we can purchase “experiences” (hence, the experience Economy). In their newest book, they blend the idea of experience with something they call Authenticity.

But Experience or the Experience Economy isn’t the only thing this notion is called – this post will introduce you to some other similar terms.

For example, when I read their book, I didn’t see much in the way of website experience. Certainly, the underlying ideas were there, but no concrete examples were given (it was written in 1999, so I’ll give them a break). That bugged me enough to write my own book about it, and I called the website version of it the Digital Experience.

Rohit Bhargava, who writes the Influential Marketing Blog, comes from a customer engagement and marketing/PR background. In his book Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get it Back, he calls it personality. Here’s a quote from the introduction that explains what personality is:

“The theory of Personality Not Included is that personality is the answer. Personality is the key element behind your brand and what it stands for, and the story that your products tell to your customers. Every element of your business, from your interactions with your customers to the packaging of your product is an element of your brand personality, and these are the elements that inspire delight or indifference among your customers. In short, personality matters.”

I heard Jane McGonigal speak last year at SXSWi 2008. She presented on gaming and alternate realities … and called it happiness. Here are some notes I took from her presentation:

Question – are you in the happiness business? Our primary product soon will be happiness… Happiness is the new capital

Four key principles of happiness:

  1. satisfying work to do
  2. experience of being good at something
  3. time spent with people we like
  4. chance to be a part of something bigger

McGonigal’s description of happiness sounds VERY similar to Pine & Gilmore’s description of experience and Bhargava’s description of a company with personality.

Ever heard of Touch Points? It’s sort of like usability … but doesn’t focus primarily on how the thing works. Instead, it focuses on the experience customers have during their interactions with the product or service or website.

Ok, one more. A few years back when Kathy Sierra was still blogging, many of her blog posts focused on this same concept – but she called it enchantment and kicking ass.

See what’s going on?

It’s not quite usability (but lives there). It’s not quite marketing (but it lives there). It’s not quite design (but it lives there too). It’s not quite customer service (yep – lives there). Not quite library 2.0 (even lives there).

There’s a convergence in many different fields right now – gaming, marketing, PR, web design, customer service, etc. – that all have, as their utmost goal, providing the customer with a positive experience … an authentic experience … happiness … attracting them with personality … enchanting them … helping them “kick patootie.” (ok, my wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap upbringing just kicked in – sorry ).

Question – how are you working to enchant your users? Not just meet their information needs … but delight them? Are you providing a positive experience, and if so – how?