App Advisory at the Library

my first screen of appsLibraries have recommended stuff to customers for years. Reader’s advisory. Video suggestions. New music to listen to. Ways to start a research project.

Why not app advisory?

Think about it. What do over half of your customers have? Smartphones. And easy access to the app store. What they don’t have is a trusted app “curator” – someone who can recommend the best apps.

What would that look like? I’ll start us off:

  • Best new apps of the month
  • Popular apps
  • Apps connected to a season (i.e., it’s summer, so apps with grilling suggestions. Yes, they exist).
  • Suggestions on how to use an app
  • And of course, you’d mention library-related apps. Ebook apps. Your ILS app, if you have one. etc.

This also means that we would need to have easy access to apps, and have a small app budget. And a variety of smartphones and tablets – both iOS and Android – to play with.

App recommendation for your community. Could be cool. What do you think?

Two Ways to Improve your Presentations

me giving a presentation in Spain. Fun time!In the last couple of days, I’ve been working on a new presentation that I’m giving up in Toronto for Future Tech Strategies for Libraries. I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be giving the presentation around the same time you’ll be reading this :-)

Over the years, I have given and attended a TON of presentations. Some I’ve learned from, some I’ve been entertained by, and some … honestly … have bored me to tears.

Here’s what I’ve learned – there are two things most of us could work on to raise the level of our presentations.

  1. Tell a story.
  2. End with Next Steps.

Let’s look a bit closer at each of these:

Tell a Story: We like stories. Heck, most of you work in libraries – places full of stories! Stories are good. One way to greatly improve your presentation is to treat your presentation like a story, or at least incorporate elements of a story into your presentation.

Why do this? Stories are easy to follow, and easy to remember. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which works great for a presentation outline. Stories have chapters, which can be individual slides, or sections of your presentation, complete with visual queues and themes. Stories have pictures – so emphasize visual elements on your slides, rather than a wordy outline.

Here are some examples stories you might tell in your presentation:

  • The story of how your library improved something.
  • The story of what you do (your job, your coding, your new service).
  • The story of why your organization needs more funding.
  • The story of what’s on the horizon (emerging trends).
  • The story of … fill in the blank…

End with Next Steps: So many presentations just end. With an embarrassed “and that’s my last slide, so I guess I’m done.”

First things first – work on transitions and writing a good ending to the presentation. But even better – end with what’s next for your listener/participant/attendee. Here are some examples of next steps:

  • What can I do next week after hearing your presentation?
  • What can I do different or change?
  • What are three steps I can take tomorrow to improve something?
  • How should I respond to emerging trends?
  • etc.

See how that works? Share stories and next steps .. and immediately improve the quality of those presentations!

Online First Mentality for Websites

 

Today, I gave a webinar for SirsiDynix on developing an online first mentality for library website content. You might remember that I wrote about creating an online first mentality earlier this year.

Here are my slides from the webinar – enjoy!

The Drop in Facebook Reach – Is it a Big Deal?

What’s the deal with Facebook’s recent drop in Reach? I’ve been reading about it and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Read on to find out why!

What exactly IS Facebook Reach, and what happened to it? Facebook Reach is a number that reflects how many people saw your Facebook post. Facebook changed something in their algorithm, and Facebook Reach (more specifically, Organic Reach – reach not generated through Facebook Ads) seems to have dropped. Dramatically. Some Facebook Page owners have seen a 40% or more drop in Organic Reach.

Bummer!

Why is Facebook messing with Reach? Facebook is trying to keep their customers interested. To do that, they are constantly tweaking what can be seen on the Facebook News Feed. When you log into your Facebook account, you are dropped into your News Feed, and you see the Top Stories view (you can toggle to the Most Recent view, which provides all stories).

The Top Stories view automatically sorts through your News Feed, finds the stories that you would most likely be interested in, and presents those to you rather than showing you everything.

Here’s what Facebook says they’ve done (from Brian Boland, who leads the Ads Product Marketing team at Facebook):

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Over the past year, we’ve made some key changes to improve how News Feed chooses content:

  • We’ve gotten better at showing high-quality content
  • And we’ve cleaned up News Feed spam

As a result of these changes, News Feed is becoming more engaging, even as the amount of content being shared on Facebook continues to grow.

Because of these changes, some Facebook Pages have experienced a drop in Engagement and Reach, because Facebook is effectively hiding posts from those Facebook Pages.

What does this mean for a library’s Facebook Page?

Should you stop using Facebook? Um, no. According to Pew Internet, 57% of American Adults are on Facebook. And that percentage is still growing. That’s still a majority of your community – your customers – on a social platform that you can use. For Free.

Should you just pay for ads? Advertising is a good thing if you do it well. Advertising on Facebook is cheap, and can have a quick response (i.e., people actually click over to your site from a Facebook ad – go figure). So yes – experiment with Facebook ads to see if it works for you. Just remember that ads aren’t the only way to use Facebook. It’s just one strategy.

Should I worry about the drop in Facebook Reach? No. Instead, focus on creating better content and making it into your Facebook Fan’s “top 300” posts on their News Feed. Because that’s the real problem. The reason some posts don’t make it into the News Feed is simple – Facebook users don’t find that content engaging, and ignore it. Then, Facebook helps them continue to ignore it.

If you don’t improve your content to make it into the top 300 posts, your Fans will ignore you (with Facebook’s help), and your content won’t appear in their News Feed.

Here’s a simple Facebook formula to remember: useful content = more engagement = better Reach.

Read more about the drop in Facebook Reach:

Image by Johanna

Keeping up with my blog – how do I do it?

Awhile back, Ned Potter, who writes the fabulous blog at ned-potter.com (you ARE reading his blog, right?) posted What does an online identity REALLY need? (Or, Growing Up Online). I left a comment, because I could relate.

Then Ned commented back and asked me a couple of questions. Here’s my answer!

But first, here’s Ned’s comment (swiped from his post):

David what a great comment!

The thing that strikes me with you is the consistency – I don’t know how many subscribers your blog has now but last time I heard a figure it was huge, thousands, and dwarfed mine… And the main reason (if you don’t mind my analyzing your blog!) to my mind is that you consistently post really helpful things that we can all act on (plus other reasons too, to do with your reputation and books etc). There were a lot of bloggers when I hit my blogging stride who would write 1 or 2 posts per week every week, myself included, but we’ve almost all gradually fallen away to fewer than that…

But you manage to keep it up, and it doesn’t feel like you’re casting around for things to blog about – all the posts have a reason for being. So how do you keep that up? I’m interested, also, in whether it ever feels like a burden – essentially keeping up with the standard you’ve set yourself?

First of all – aww, shucks. Thanks! I’m glad people like reading my blog!

And now, on to the questions:

Question #1: How many blog subscribers? (Ned didn’t really ask this, but did mention it in passing, so I thought I’d answer):

That’s a hard one to figure out these days, since Feedburner stats have gone a bit wonky. For Feedburner, I have anywhere between 1800-5800 RSS subscribers, depending on the day (so I’d guess the actual number is a bit higher than the larger number). And a pretty consistent 2000 or so email subscribers. Last month, Google Analytics says I had 5600 sessions/4600 Users at the site.

Plus, there are a lot of people who don’t subscribe, but might watch my blog via Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin. Either way, that’s a lot of people! You guys – thanks for reading! Tell everyone you know to read :-)

Question #2: So how do you keep that up?

A few years ago, I slowly transitioned how I thought about my blog. Before then, it was simply a place I posted to whenever I felt like it. But I eventually realized that instead of a personal blog, I was running:

  1. a publication with more subscribers than some rural newspapers and academic journals (ok, the really boring ones, but you get my point).
  2. my blog was the “hub” for my fledgling part-time consulting/speaking/writing business.

And if it’s a business … well then, I need to treat it like one. So I do three things to help me focus on my “business:”

  1. I schedule blog posts. My goal is to post every Tuesday and Thursday. Do I always hit that? Nope. But it’s a goal.
  2. I created a tagline – “social web, emerging trends, and libraries.” It’s on my blog, and helps me stay focused. If you read something I wrote or if you hear me speak, the content will most likely fall somewhere within that tagline.
  3. I try to write and speak about things in a very practical way. My goal after you read one of my blog posts or hear me speak is for you to be able to say “hey – I can use that next week at work!” When I achieve that, I think it’s pretty darn awesome.

I also get a lot of ideas from work. Part of my job is scanning the library/techie horizon, and bringing new cool things to the library. Guess what? That often serves double-duty on my blog (and vice versa). More often than not, when I write about something, it’s because I was thinking about it at work.

For example, my recent social media measurement series of blog posts originated from me trying to eek some meaning out of my library’s social media stats. At some point, I thought “hey! I should share this stuff!” And voila! A series of blog posts.

Question #3: I’m interested, also, in whether it ever feels like a burden – essentially keeping up with the standard you’ve set yourself?

Yep. Sometimes it does! Burnout happens. I get busy at my “real job,” I get busy at home (three teenagers – how the heck did that happen?). Instead of writing about library stuff, I want to write music (which I’m working on!). Or I just procrastinate – I’m a pro at that.

But honestly? I really like to write. I like sharing, and it helps me think. My goal of two posts a week? That was actually a way to limit myself, so I wasn’t posting 4-5 times a week. My reasoning was that too much davidleeking can be a bad thing :-)

So there you go – three questions, three answers. How do you keep up something you enjoy doing when it gains some attention? Anyone else have some good tips to share?

Pic of Ned – from Ned’s Twitter account!