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David Lee King

Widening your Nets, Decentralizing your Web Services



Last summer while at ALA’s annual conference in the Chicago area, a couple friends and I were eating lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe and saw this ad on one of the tables.

facebook URL ad

The interesting thing about the ad wasn’t so much the content itself (though I’m sure it’s good stuff). We got all geeked out over the URL associated with the ad. Why? Because they didn’t point to their website.

Instead, they pointed directly to their Facebook Page.

Think about that for a sec, because there are some pretty large implications for library web services. I know that many of us have worked for years to centralize all our websites, tools, and services into one place – preferably at www.mylibrarysnamegoeshere.org …. some of us have worked hard to get federated search tools to work on that library website, and have even integrated some of our library catalog content into our websites, as well.

But people aren’t visiting our websites (well, not in droves, anyway). They are going to other places, like Facebook (and YouTube, and Google, and …). And of course we should be active in some of those social sites. But what about pointing directly to those social sites … in an ad? That’s taking it one step further, isn’t it? Pointing directly AWAY from our website … to some social tool like Facebook?

This could work for libraries. If you have a Facebook Page, check out your Page demographics (Facebook provides some basic stats on Facebook Page visitors). Who’s your main audience in Facebook? Doing anything for that group of patrons already?

If so, you might think of taking it one step further, and pointing them directly to the Facebook Page. Why?

  • This group already uses Facebook
  • Your Facebook Page comes ready-made for interaction – comments, discussions, and likes.
  • it can have an easy-to-remember URL (i.e., ours is facebook.com/topekalibrary)
  • For the customer, it’s a direct connection to the library. Once they “become a fan,” they get all your stuff… reminders, questions,comments, etc.

But even better – for us sneaky librarians, it’s also a direct connection to a segment of our customers. But not just any customers – these customers already use Facebook and actually LIKE to interact. If they have become a fan of your library, that means they like to interact … with the library.

So don’t be shy! Spread out your nets … decentralize those web services. Send out status updates. Ask questions. Start discussions. Get feedback about new services. And in the process, have fun interacting with a group that actually WANTS to interact.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://catalogablog.blogspot.com/ David Bigwood

    Here at the Lunar and Planetary Institue we have just started moving in that direction. This month we have added several collections of imagery to Flickr rather than our website. We plan to continue the experiment, give it enough time and substance to see if it works. We are also curious if people will add comments, something not possible on our site. http://bit.ly/39nBph

    I know we are not the first to do this, all the members of the Flickr Commons were there before us.

  • http://catalogablog.blogspot.com David Bigwood

    Here at the Lunar and Planetary Institue we have just started moving in that direction. This month we have added several collections of imagery to Flickr rather than our website. We plan to continue the experiment, give it enough time and substance to see if it works. We are also curious if people will add comments, something not possible on our site. http://bit.ly/39nBph

    I know we are not the first to do this, all the members of the Flickr Commons were there before us.

  • colleengreene

    You make a really good point here, David, and one that I try to make when I teach local history organizations — Facebook has a huge ready-made audience and tons of ready-made feature.

    Most of these little non-profit groups & special collections don't have access to a staff developer, and many don't even have access to members who can donate quality web development time to build content and community rich applications. So, investing in a Facebook Page makes great sense for these groups, particularly since so many of their own members are already using the service.

    Facebook Pages have come to be recognized as a legitimate business channel and only help to reinforce the sense of community that should exist between libraries and our patrons.

    I can't help but scratch my head at libraries and other non-profits who still debate *if* they should have a Page. Not having one is such a missed opportunity.

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