Creating Community & Driving Engagement #BEABloggers

bea bloggersThis was my panel session. I shared the panel with three fabulous people:

We each submitted questions beforehand. Here’s what I submitted (along with my answers). I focused on video and podcasting. This is what I planned to share – what was actually shared was just a little bit of this (panels tend to take on a life of their own once started, which is cool):

10 video questions

1. what equipment do you need to start making video?

  • you probably already have some type of video recorder: smartphone, digital camera, camcorder, webcam.
  • smartphone for audio recording too
  • any basic digital camera with video recording will work great for starters, or your iphone.
  • Nothing fancy until you are ready for it!

2. what software should I use to edit videos?

  • Your computer comes with great software – Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
  • Or get Adobe Premier Express or Apple’s Final Cut Pro – $100-300 or so.

3. what type of content should be in my video?

  • Thinking author here…
  • promotional video about your new book. Duh. Maybe a series of them!
  • short video about writing process
  • short video about a fun plot twist or character development
  • just a “I’m touching base with my readers” video
  • what are you excited about? Share that.

4. How about podcasting – what’s that, and how is it different from video?

  • Podcasting – audio; video = video. Some people call videos video podcasts.
  • podcasting goes on your iphone, in itunes. Video, not so much.

5. Where should I store my videos or podcasts?

  • Videos – Youtube.
  • Podcasts are harder. Start out with a free tool like Soundcloud. Then you can up that to Libsyn or Blubrry – monthly charge.
  • Videos – might also think about Viddy or Socialcam.

6. What do I do with my videos and podcasts once I upload them?

  • Never just keep them at Youtube! Well, unless you’re Justin Beiber or something.
  • Put them on your blog.
  • Social media – Twitter and Facebook.
  • LinkedIn? Tumblr? Wherever your followers are.

7. How can I make my videos more social? How do I engage viewers or listeners?

  • ASK. Ask for comments. Ask questions. Look at the camera.
  • example – ebooksforlibraries! We asked for petitionn signers. We got em.
  • Youtube – include annotations that point to subscribe, Like, Favorite. Other videos.
  • Make commenting easy – have them on your blog.
  • Ask for specifics – i.e., here are my top 5 – what are yours?

8. Do videos need to be scripted out? I’m not an actor!

  • Depends. Are you good at winging it or talking? Then probably not.
  • scripted Karl out for ebooksforlibraries
  • If you’re like me, you need at least an outline to keep you on track.
  • Edit out the ums and ahs. It’s video/audio, after all.
  • No, you’re not an actor. Just be you. People WANT to hear from you – they buy your books, don’t they?

9. How long should my videos and podcasts be?

  • Videos – under 3 minutes. The shorter the better!
  • Podcasts – can be longer. Think drive time or exercise time length.
  • If you’re interesting, they can be longer. You’ll see dropoff rates in Youtube analytics…

10. OK – I’m making videos and podcasts. How do I take them to the next step?

  • Video – lighting, mics, cameras. Upgrade when you hit a wall (and have the money)
  • Podcasts – mics.
  • Both – content. Make it better! Include your audience! Ze Frank is a great example of including audience in his video series.

Focus on Youtube – Summary and Why?

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing and thinking about Youtube for awhile. Here’s a list of my recent Youtube posts:

Why have I been focused on Youtube? Well, a couple of reasons. One, I really needed to re-focus on Youtube a bit at work. Writing and thinking about this stuff really helps me figure out what I need to do next for my library’s Youtube account.

One more reason – Youtube is a social network, with subscribers, friends, content creators, comments, likes, and favorites. If you want friends, subscribers, comments … and more importantly, video viewers, you need to be there. You need to watch videos, leave comments, likes, favorites, share videos, etc. That gets you noticed by others in the Youtube community (and your local customers who use Youtube).

Try out some of my suggestions, and see if you can increase engagement in Youtube in 2012!

Community pic by Bigstock

My AHA Moment

Recently, the Mutual of Omaha’s AHA Moment van stopped at my library and took some “AHA Moment” videos of Topekans.

Pretty cool project! They’re on a 25-city tour, capturing people’s “Aha moments” – which they define as “It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.”

Anyway – I did one – my Aha moment is embedded in this post. Mine was (in true librarian fashion) the reason I became a librarian. A couple of other people from my library did these, too – check them out!

Why show these? It’s a cool project … and one you can potentially mimic. The Mutual of Omaha is doing a national “aha moment” thing … but why couldn’t you do a localized AHA Moment? Or even better – create some “library aha moments” of patrons saying why they love your library! Show patrons sharing what rocks about your library – reading, books, free wifi even.

Either way, it could be a cool way to get your community talking about your library or organization. nothing wrong with that!

Supporting Your Community

I just read You Don’t Sell to a Community. You Support a Community by Dan Blank (found via Chris Brogan’s Twitter feed). And hey – Dan must be ok – he used to work at Reed Business Info (ie., Library Journal, etc). So he gets us library types.

Here’s the gist of the post (make sure to read the whole thing): “As the business landscape rushes into social media – a more nuanced connection with people’s lives – this is something to be understood. The business funnel of marketing to a segmented group of people is not the same as building trust within a community – of supporting a community.”

Two other good quotes:

  • “You don’t sell to a community. You support a community. You provide for a community. You connect a community. You mediate a community. You balance a community. You sacrifice for a community.”
  • “it is hard to truly “build” a community. Communities exist already. A list of Twitter followers is not necessarily a community.”

So – how does this relate to libraries? We don’t sell stuff, do we? Sure we do. My library has a 3-person marketing team that creates newsletters, giant posters, and marketing & promotion campaigns (for starters. They do a lot of great work). Their business is making sure everyone in Shawnee County knows about us, checks out our stuff, and attends our events. That’s selling – selling our stuff and our services.

What do some libraries do soon after they set up their blogs, Facebook Pages, and Twitter feeds? They start selling! Many of us primarily use our online social communities as broadcast avenues. We throw billboards out into the middle of our digital community, hoping someone reads it, clicks the link, and attends the event (or checks out the book).

But I’m with Dan – that’s not the primary thing we should be doing in our online communities.

Think about it for a sec – when it comes to our analog community (ie., our buildings), we get that. We ROCK in that space. Who else (maybe besides a church) has an actual community that visits regularly, connects with the people who work there, and that’s not obviously selling stuff (like a grocery store)? That’s us! We’re not there to sell stuff – our stuff sells itself. In our analog spaces, we exist to support our communities, and we do it well.

So why, when we venture online, do we suddenly turn into snake oil salesmen? How come we have a hard time connecting via a text box, a camera, or a short video? We’ve had some form of these tools for a LONG TIME (ie., email for example). The rest of our community picked it up (look at national Facebook and email adoption rates) – why are we struggling here?

Want to fix this? Here’s a couple of things to try:

  • Take a look at your organization’s social media spaces (Facebook, Twitter, etc). Is it full of answering questions, or is it full of announcements? Think about balancing those out a bit.
  • Think of your social media spaces like a large gathering of people where you’ve been asked to represent your library. I’m guessing you wouldn’t bring your bullhorn, right? Instead, you might say “Hi – I’m from the library. What do you do?” … then you’d go from there. Treat your social media spaces the same way.
  • Give this quote from Dan some thought – “You don’t sell to a community. You support a community. You provide for a community. You connect a community. You mediate a community. You balance a community. You sacrifice for a community.” Are there ways you can do this online? Probably so.
  • In your library’s social media spaces, don’t be “The Library.” Be “David, the dude who works at the library.” Be a person, not a billboard.

More later.

Photo by cindiann

Facebook from a Patron’s Perspective

A day or two ago, we invited a couple of our patrons in for a focus group session on our website. The goal was to gather insights about our current website that can be incorporated into our redesign … but in the process, one patron in particular shared some eye-opening insights into how she uses Facebook.

This patron shared that she sits in front of a computer for 8 hours a day at work, and starts her morning out by opening up Google Reader, email, and Facebook as separate tabs on her web browser, and keeps them open all day long (while she’s working).

What does she do in Facebook? A lot. She follows co-workers, friends, and family there. The keeps up with the news and other organizations she’s interested in … through her Facebook news feed.

And the library? She primarily keeps up-to-date with the library through Facebook, too. Yes – through status updates and links within those status updates to interesting things.

OK. She was just one person who works in front of a computer all day. But I’m guessing she’s not alone – in the last three months, my library’s Facebook Page has added almost 900 fans.


  • We need to not treat our Facebook Page as an afterthought. Some of our more savvy, active patrons are using Facebook as a primary source for library news.
  • We need to develop strategy and goals around our Facebook Pages (and any other social media tool our library incorporates).
  • We need to be actively sharing and conversing. Not just broadcasting press releases, but actually holding conversations with our patrons (just like we do in our physical spaces)

Are you seeing a similar thing with your customers? Your friends? How are you talking with patrons using a Facebook Page?

Photo by Paul Walsh