Community Engagement: Tools & Tips

Rudy Leon and I gave a pre conference workshop at Internet Librarian 2014 on Community Engagement. The session went well! Attendees wanted our slides and outline, so here it is.

Introductions: we started things off by asking about each person’s communities their library interacts with – who they are and how they are already working on engaging with those communities.

Next, we discussed the communities Rudy and I work with. I have a public library background, so I went over all the physical and digital communities my library focuses on. Rudy’s background is in academic libraries, so she talked about subject liaisons to faculty and students, and the different types of communities in Reno and in a university setting.

Then we gave some tips on discovering communities by using listening techniques. I focused on digital listening techniques, and Rudy introduced the idea of listening as iterative behavior: hear, respond, implement, close the loop. Then she gave some examples of doing that in Reno.

After that, we gave some tips from our own experience on developing strategies to build relationships with communities. I focused on digital communities, and Rudy focused on connecting with academics.

Finally, I gave a couple of quick tips on measuring success with engagement, and we had a great Q&A time full of pretty active discussion.

Fun time!

Tidy up your Twitter Followers

I recently went through my library’s Twitter followers and “cleaned up” our follower list. What was I looking for? Mainly, that we are following people living in our service area. Here’s what I did:

First off, I used FriendorFollow. It’s a pretty handy tool that shows, among other things, who follows you, who doesn’t follow back, etc.

Then, I went through our list of Twitter followers, one at a time, and friended these types of a accounts:

  • Do they live in Topeka or Shawnee County?
  • Do they seem to live in Kansas, and do we share some Twitter friends (another indicator that they are in our service area)?
  • If they mention Topeka or Kansas in their bio or recent tweets
  • regional businesses (probably have employees in our service area)

If they met these criteria, I friended them back.

I unfriended some accounts, too. Here’s what I unfriended:

  • If they haven’t tweeted in over a year – that indicates they don’t actively use the account
  • If they never tweeted
  • If their account is private
  • If they don’t live in our service area

So – I ended up unfriending some libraries, some librarians, some people who had moved out of the area, and some celebrities that we had friended. Not in our service are? We dump em.

What did that achieve? Hopefully, more interaction. More followers that might actually be interested in their local library and what we tweet. And several hundred more followers that we are connected to!

That’s what I did – do you ever clean up follower lists in your organization’s Twitter or Facebook accounts? If so, what do YOU look for? Please share!

Image from Michael Sauers

How Do You Thank Your Facebook Fans?

Thanking Facebook Fans

How do you thank your organization’s Facebook Fans? Here’s how Tinley Park Public Library thanks theirs – with a photo of staff, giving a thumbs up and saying thanks!

Tinley’s staff wanted a way to say “thank you” to their growing Facebook fan base on their library’s Facebook Page. They had a couple of options that I knew about (they had asked for suggestions):

  • They could keep track of new fans, and when they hit 1000, they could thank that newest fan (requires some finagling of Facebook Insights to do this).
  • They could do something a little more general in nature, and thank everyone.

They chose to thank everyone in a really fun way – by posting a photo of themselves, saying “thanks” to their fans. How cool is that?

What’s good about this?

  • It’s easy and cheap
  • it’s fun and lighthearted, yet authentic
  • it’s visual – it communicates the message loud and clear
  • it puts a face to the organization, and to the real people behind the Facebook Page
  • It shows that face2face connection with customers that’s so important in organization-to-customer social media relationships

Great job, Tinley Park! You guys ROCK!

 

One Difference between Twitter and Facebook

Somebody recently asked me about Twitter for their library (which lead to my last post and this one). As I was answering her question about social media strategy, I said (a version of) this:

Facebook is a bit more conducive to “branded conversations.” Facebook can be highly visual, and the conversations are a bit more contained and threaded (i.e., comments and likes go underneath the actual post). If you’re not into one conversation, move to the next.

Twitter, on the other hand, is just the raw conversation as it happens. Sure, it can be visual and sorta-kinda threaded now, but it’s still (in my mind, anyway) pretty much real-time text-based conversation.

What’s that mean? For Facebook, you can insert some branded, “market-y” stuff, and not really bother anyone (as long as you have other content too!). It’s expected.

But with Twitter, if an organization starts sounding market-y – if they are mainly using Twitter as a broadcast tool to push out their programs and services – those tweets will stick out like a sore thumb.

That’s a great way to be ignored – fast – on Twitter.

Megaphone pic by Gene Han

 

One Library’s Twitter Strategy

My library has been doing a few different things with our Twitter account the last couple of years, and have finally settled on a Twitter strategy to try for the next 6 months or so.

Who’s connecting with us? Our Twitter followers tend more towards marketers, advertisers, start-up business types, the “activist/we get stuff done” types in town, the 20-40 year old business up-and-comers, and a lot of media types (broadcast, newspaper, and some radio journalists). And a bunch of young geeks.

We are focusing on this type of content:

  • What’s interesting (to the library) right now and why?
  • Library “breaking news”
  • No big sell – share what the library finds interesting
  • Be yourself, be casual, but at the same time remember you represent the library
  • Friend our customers and local businesses
  • In general, try for friendly and helpful, but not pushy.

Posting schedule: We post multiple times a day, every day. We have seven staff members assigned, one on each day. I’m the floater/substitute for when people are sick, on vacation, etc. And I monitor activity, answer the harder questions, and make sure we’re on-target.

How will we know if we succeed? I will measure growth and engagement via the new-fangled Twitter analytics!

That’s our plan. What’s your organization’s Twitter strategy?

Pic by Jeff Turner