Last week, I gave a presentation at McGill’s Web2PointU Symposium – a cool conference run by students of the School of Information Studies at McGill University.
During that presentation (you can find my slides here), I mentioned new skills that information professionals need to successfully run social media for their organization. That list included these things:
- The normal mad librarian skills (fill in the blank here). Searching, reader’s advisory, research, etc. These “traditional” skills can easily be used in a modern online setting.
- Web and social media skills. As in, being an expert end user. It’s hard to be an expert in Google searching if you don’t really know all the bells and whistles of Google searching, for example (and yes, I’ve known librarians who really couldn’t use basic online search engines well, let alone a web browser). The same thing goes for social media tools – you won’t be very successful at running the library’s Twitter account if you don’t really “get” Twitter.
- Writing skills. Most of us learned how to write in school. Unfortunately, we learned how to write business letters and academic papers. Guess what? That’s not how we should write on the web. If you want to start a conversation, you need to use a conversational writing style. If you want readers to quickly grasp your content, use some of those writing tips I mentioned in my article Writing for the Mobile Web.
- Photo and video skills. Social media is very visual. Take a peek at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Slideshare, Vine, Flickr, Youtube, Vimeo, etc. All include photos and videos. That means YOU need to be able to create photos and videos that quickly communicate to your organization’s social media crowd.
- Networking. Social media IS networking. Today’s librarian needs to be good at talking to a crowd – online and in-person.
- Marketing & promotion. Part of your social media duties include sharing the cool stuff your library is doing.
What would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Wow – how’d that happen? Facebook is 10 years old today. Happy birthday, Facebook!
Yesterday, I saw some interesting stats about Facebook from the Pew Research Center. Here are some of them, with my thoughts included:
57% of all adults use Facebook. That’s a LOT of people. Think about that statistic locally – it means that over half of YOUR community is using Facebook. That means that your organization should be actively using Facebook, since it’s a primary communication and hangout tool for over half of your community.
64% of Facebook users visit the site daily. That means your organization’s Facebook Page should post daily, too. On Facebook, you’re not seen if you don’t post – so post!
Major reasons to use Facebook – sharing and laughs. Share a mix of fun and useful content, and your network will respond (i.e., comment, like, share, etc). Because they LIKE to respond – that’s what you DO on Facebook.
Half of all adult Facebook users have more than 200 friends in their network. If one of them decides to share your content, that content will be seen by people outside your library’s Facebook network. That’s the power of Facebook sharing – it can really stretch beyond your normal Facebook boundaries.
Check out the article – good info there!
Facebook logo by Sharon Mckellar
Well, I didn’t really post much about my library’s website redesign. But next week, we go live with it!
You can check it out now at our beta, pre-launch URL – dev.tscpl.org.
Here’s our go-live process:
- Work on the site like crazy (we still have a big list of stuff to do!)
- Today, we posted a head’s up to our customers, and asked them for feedback, too
- We go live on January 29
- Then, we’ll continue to tweak things as we notice them for 2-4 weeks.
- Sometime after the big launch, we plan to have Influx take a peek, to catch stuff we missed.
- Finally, we plan to do some usability testing to catch even MORE stuff we missed.
So, what’s new and different about our redesigned site? Quite a bit:
- We went responsive, so one set of code works on all browsers and devices.
- We have consolidated some of our blogs
- Really worked hard on our links, our navigation, and directing people to the right content
- Modern design, modern web fonts, white space, etc
- On the back-end, we focused on letting WordPress do most of the work, instead of custom-coding. This will make things like sidebar widgets and pages MUCH easier for us to update
And probably much more that I’m missing. So go check it out!
Writing for the mobile web is a LOT like all those “writing for the web” articles you’ve probably seen before, but with more emphasis on scannability and engagement. Why?
Because writing for the mobile web has an audience mostly using smartphones. Three things apply here:
- You are writing for the small screen. So the ability to quickly scan content is HUGE.
- People are used to interacting with their smartphones. They “touch” Facebook and Twitter. They can comment, like, or share easily.
- People are easily distracted on smartphones. If your content doesn’t load fast, they’re gone. If it’s not engaging, they’re gone. If they don’t “get it” fast, they’re gone.
We have our jobs cut out for us, don’t we!
Here are some tips for writing for the mobile web (these also apply to writing for the general web):
- write short, to-the-point articles
- edit, edit, edit – make every word count
- Stick to one idea, topic, or goal per post
Create strong titles:
- Make titles short. The BBC uses 5-6 words per title!
- Front-load the title with appropriate words to make the point of the article clear and understandable out of context (i.e., for search engines)
Create actionable content:
- Focus on the benefits of using the product or service, not the features. What’s in it for the reader?
- Have a next step or call to action in each article. (i.e., check out this book, attend this program, etc.)
- Always link to things you talk about (i.e., link to the catalog when mentioning books, etc.)
- Frontload your content. The first paragraph of text should be stuffed with the most important content (think inverted pyramid).
Make content scannable:
- No huge blocks of text – break up long paragraphs.
- Break the rules and use fewer than 3 sentences per paragraph if needed. One sentence paragraphs are ok, if it looks correct on a mobile device!
- Use headings, subheadings, lists and bullet points. These help make the content scannable.
- put your readers first. Speak to them, not at them. Use we and you.
- Use informal, conversational writing. Blog posts are a conversation!
- Ask questions, ask for a response.
- Type like you talk. Read your content back to yourself. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, re-write it so it does.
What should be added here? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
photo by Robert Patton
My library’s web developer, Nathan Pauley, shared this article with me: The Mobile Moment, by Luke Wroblewski. In the article, Luke discusses how processes, priorities, and product thinking change when the majority of your web traffic shifts from desktop to mobile devices.
Probably a good thing to start thinking about now, rather than later. Why? Well, in my library’s case, we are getting closer all the time. For example, the image included in this post shows mobile visits for my library’s website for December 2013:
- Blue = desktop website visits (67.4%)
- Green = mobile device visits (20.3%)
- Red = tablet device visits (12.3%)
So … add the mobile and tablet percentages together, and you get 32.6%. Almost 33% of web traffic coming from some type of mobile device! What was that percentage a year ago? A whopping 17.6%. If that rate continues, we’ll be around 50% mobile traffic in another year. Wowser!
What should we be thinking about when we hit 50% mobile traffic? Here are some thoughts – please add yours!
- Responsive website, or at least some form of mobile website. That’s why my library is going responsive (our redesign should be live by the end of January!).
- Mobile-friendly content. It’s not enough to have web-friendly content. Think about making that content mobile-friendly, too.
- Easy ways to share, like, and interact with social media sites.
- Quick ways to connect to library staff and to library content directly from a customer’s mobile device.
What else? Let’s get this mobile thing figured out!