More on Friending

i just bought a macOne of my last posts, Don’t Friend Me, discussed my thoughts on libraries friending other libraries. A couple of commenters didn’t agree, and said so in my comments – which is cool – in fact, you might want to check out the discussion and chime in yourself, if you haven’t yet.

Instead of answering individual comments with another comment, I thought I’d lump a couple of comments/questions together and make another post out of it. See what you think, and feel free to comment, as always.

But first, you have some required reading. Go read Darren Rowse’s (the problogger guy) post, Defining Twitter Goals: A Tip for Successful Use of Twitter (on his new twitip blog). A quote: “Being successful at something is very hard if you don’t know what you want to achieve. It’s much easier to hit your target… if you know what it is.” He goes on to explain how goals are needed in the use of social networking sites. So… go read it … I’m waiting …

OK then. Here’s where I’m going … I think that many libraries haven’t really figured out goals for their shiny, new social networking sites/tools. When they start collecting friends, they immediately pick the safe route – friending primarily other libraries that are doing the same thing.

And that’s great for learning the new tool. But at some point, it’s a good thing to figure out what you really want out of the SN site, and then start pursuing that. My guess is this: the goal in friending isn’t to gather other libraries – it’s to gather patrons as friends.

Now, on to the comments:

Bobbi said:

“By nature people are joiners”

Have you read Groundswell? It purports that only a percentage of people are joiners. Check out their profile tool – for example, I put myself into it (42 year old US-based male), and here’s what their research shows: only 34% of my age group are joiners. More in the next quote…

“I’m not sure they do look to see who else is friends unless they are looking for people they know…”

Speaking for myself, I always look – I don’t want to friend a spam site, a person more interested in selling me something, etc… And I’ve read danah boyd, who says “… that “public displays of connection” serve as important identity signals that help people navigate the networked social world, in that an extended network may serve to validate identity information presented in profiles.” danah’s research implies that they do, in fact, look.

Kelly:

“If a patron wants to use a library Facebook or MySpace page, they will, if it works for them and fills a need they have”

Agreed – I have no beef with that. I think that’s putting all the responsibility on the patron, though. Libraries can do their part, too – by creating goals for a social networking site, and then working to meet those goals.

Susan:

“Why tell libraries/librarians that they are … friending all wrong?”

Because I have a lot of libraries asking me why they aren’t getting any friends, or complaining that their friends are all from other libraries … they see that, then assume “it must not be working, right?” Those libraries have already noticed that they aren’t connecting with their local communities (that’s what they tell me they want to do), and are wondering what to do about it. So I’m trying to help.

“Fear of change” and “not being perfect” as I recall are factors that we are encouraging librarians not to be.”

Exactly. That’s why I write – to throw out ideas. Hopefully some of them work for some people. No one’s perfect – but we can all improve, right?

“Why not talk about this issue the other way around, perhaps a post about the hierarchy of friending?”

I’m planning on that in a future post…

John:

“Then I began thinking about the great opportunity missed out by not intermingling here”

Right – that’s why we have a library/organizational account, and I have my personal account.

***************

Libraries do indeed exist to connect with their local communities – we’ve done this way before the web was around! A digital social network like Facebook or Twitter is no different. Our goals should still include connecting with and serving our patrons.

Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far:

Engaging Your Community

Trivia Night September 2007Still reading and thinking about blogs – it’s the fault of Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Wb 2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize, and Engage Youth, by Ben Rigby. It’s a good book – I suggest you read it!

So today, I give you two thoughts about blogging and engaging blog communities.

On page 28, Ben writes: “A handful of elite political bloggers now wield tremendous influence, but like celebrity reporters, they’re in constant demand and are therefore more difficult to contact. However, they rely on so-called B-list bloggers for story sourcing. By looking at comments and links on an elite blogger’s site, you can begin to understand the structure of his or her network. You can reach out to the less popular bloggers and become a trusted source to them. In turn, they will feed your perspective and ideas to the elite bloggers.”

Engage the A Listers

There’s two ways to look at this. First, the obvious way. Want Robert Scoble or Chris Brogan or the ReadWriteWeb dudes to notice you? Find out who they read, then engage THOSE authors. The “B list” authors are more likely to hold conversations with you. If you strike up an engaging conversation with them, and that conversation ends up in the B lister’s blog, then … you just might get noticed by the “big guys.” Of course, if you’re like me, you’re starting way down the list (maybe the “Y Listers”?), so I have a much longer road to travel (unless the bloggers I linked to actually read their ego feeds – if you do, please say hi!).

Engage Your Community

Secondly, the much more interesting way. Ben continues (on page 29): “By developing trusted relationships and treating bloggers as a core part of your outreach efforts, you can take a proactive role in shaping news that affects your organization. You’ll also be prepared to respond rapidly to negative news and to promote your achievements.”

This means engaging local bloggers, or bloggers near and dear to your organization. In libraries, this means other librarians (to bounce ideas off of) and THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. Find bloggers in your area. Subscribe. Engage. Repeat.

There ARE bloggers in your area, already saying stuff about you. You have a chance to engage those bloggers and be a little more in control of what is said – at the least by correcting bad information or providing an another viewpoint to the situation. Better yet – you have a chance to tell your story to your community. Share your good stuff. Ask how you can make it better.

But to do that, you have to engage.