Talking at the #ideadrop house @ SXSWi

I’m headed out to SXSWi tomorrow (woo hoo!), and wanted to let y’all know about something I’m participating in on Friday. I’m heading up a discussion about being human online on Friday at the #ideadrop House.

What’s the #ideadrop House? It’s a fun event hosted by Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) and ProQuest. The goal is to “serve as a seriously fun place to drop ideas and a seriously great opportunity to dialogue about topics affecting libraries during SXSW when the creative juices are flowing and where the big ideas are percolating.”

For most talks at the #ideadrop House during SXSW, there’s a small space for people to actually attend (I think). And, the talk will also be livestreamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ideadrop – so you can still watch and participate, even if you’re not in Austin!

My talk is scheduled for 4pm Friday March 8 – I’ll be talking about how organizations can make real connections to customers using online tools.

Please come by, tune in, and discuss! Should be a blast! You can also follow along via Twitter using #ideadrop or @ERandL.

People are Human, Brands (and Organizations) not so much

I recently read this post, Why your nonprofit needs a personality and NOT a brand, on John Haydon’s blog. Here’s a snippet:

“Most of the people you connect with on Facebook and Twitter are your friends. They’re people. They have personality.

And I bet that you spend 95% of your time connecting with people – not companies. And even when you do connect with a company, your best experiences are defined by the people who work at that company (think Zappos).”

Reading that made me think – how does my library work on giving our organization “personality?” How are we, as a system, acting more like people rather than an organization?

Hard question, huh?

Here’s what we’re doing (off the top of my head). What can you add to this list?

  • Blog-based content focused on our collection and events. Our content creators’ personalities shine through in their writing.
  • we include pictures and full names for every blog post. Same with our public-facing staff directory. This allows our customers to connect with actual people. And it works – I get emails and phone calls from customers wanting to talk to the “techie dude” every week.
  • We send staff out in the community. We do this through our bookmobiles and other vehicle-based delivery, through offsite programs and events, and through our speakers’ bureau. Again, this gives a face to the library.
  • We have an Ask Now button pretty much everywhere on our website and catalog that connects to IM chat reference.
  • We use multimedia – pictures of events, videos, etc. Visual ways to introduce staff to customers, and to make our library more personal to customers.
  • We share what us librarians are reading, using Goodreads and LibraryThing widgets (think staff picks – see examples here and here).
  • And of course, we’re using social media – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

So – that’s some of the things we’re doing to create a Face2Face connection with our customers.

What would you add? What’s your library doing? Please share!

photo of smiling people by Bigstock

Making Connections – the Institutional Version

Last post, I covered things I think about when making personal friend connections in a bunch of social networks I use. I also said “for MPOW, it’s slightly different – I might cover that in another post.” Here’s that other post.

As an institution, who should you friend? Why? This is pretty subjective of course, but here are some general guidelines to get you started:

Friend patrons/customers/members. Friend people living in your service area, or who are likely to use your services. Find them using tools like Twitter’s Find People search or any number of third party search services. Your goal is to share your stuff, your events, and yourselves with other people and organizations who can actually use and benefit your content in  a social network.

If someone friends you, check them out. Look at their posts, look at their bio, and where they’re from. If they live close by, friend them. Then start sharing.

Friend other local organizations. Again, the goal is to share your stuff with other organizations that can potentially partner with you, or otherwise send people your way.

Friend others who are interested in your stuff. Have a local history collection that focuses on a certain individual or era? Friend others who are interested in the same things. This should hold true especially on social networks that focus on multimedia, like Flickr and YouTube.

Other Considerations

Facebook Groups
– these can have a narrower focus, so you might be friending fewer people in a group, especially if it’s more of a niche group. For example, if you have a Facebook Group focused on teens, you’ll want to friend actual teens, rather than just anyone of any age.

YouTube – do your local news media outlets have YouTube accounts? Make sure to friend them, and favorite some of their videos.

Finally, be friend-neutral. Don’t agree with what the person says, or don’t like their content? Remind yourself that this isn’t your personal social network you’re developing, but your organization’s network. And most likeley, you take all shapes and sizes of friend connections.

Further reading: my set of posts on attracting friends, starting with Don’t Friend Me.

What am I missing? Any other groups it might be good to friend? Not to friend?

photo from sausyn

Making Connections

Social Media connections in my inboxIf you sign up and use social media tools, here’s what might happen to you: the image accompanying this post is my inbox. I recently visited my parents, and I only answered pressing emails … but didn’t really clear stuff out like normal.

Check out the pic – everyone wants to follow! Twitter follow requests … Facebook friend requests … blip.fm new listeners … Friendfeed subscribers … Flickr contacts … even a request to do something from church (they’re using a cool 2.0-ish tool for worship team scheduling). Probably a couple of blog comments in there, too. There were 2 pages of this.

And some of you play with this stuff more than me … I can only imagine what YOUR inbox looks like!

Who to friend? Who to ignore? Who to respond to? And when? Here’s what I do:

  • Twitter: I get more of these than the others, so I’m a bit pickier here. I friend you if you sound interesting and don’t look like a spammer. I read your bio and a couple of tweets. Sometimes, I look at your follow-to-follower ratio. I usually don’t follow other libraries or people that sound too much like snakeoil salesmen (i.e, that mention SEO/make money online/I’ll make your life better stuff).
  • Also picky with Flickr – I’ll follow you if I know you, if I’ve met you, or if I might meet you professionally (i.e., if you’re a librarian or a social media type).
  • Facebook: I follow most people who follow me. I recently had a run of high school chums discover Facebook.
  • blip.fm: If you follow me as a listener, I’ll follow you back.
  • Friendfeed: Same – I follow back almost everyone who follows me.
  • In any of these, if you send me a message/tweet me/write on my wall, I’ll read it and usually respond if it makes sense to do so. Sometimes I read it, think “huh” and move on – no response needed.
  • Also – if I come across your blog, your book, or an interesting tweet/post, I might friend/follow you – so I can receive more interesting content from you!

When do I do this? Personally, I usually when I read it and/or when it’s convenient to do so (for MPOW, it’s slightly different – I might cover that in another post). I think of follow requests and comments/tweets/wall posts as introductions and conversation, so it makes sense to me to do it sooner rather than later. But then, I don’t have a ton of them, and find it’s simply easier to quickly deal with a follow request quickly and move on, rather than letting them pile up (unless I’m out of town or away from the web for a bit).

What do you do? Who do you friend? And when do you find the time? Stuff to think about…