IL2009: Micro Interactions, Conversations, and Customers

My part of this session is above… I introduced the concept and talked about the variety of interactions available using social networks.

Up next was Amy Kearns and Julie Strange, talking about: Tweet What? 5 sweet ways to connect in 140 characters or less. Notes below:

Searching for tweets with a positive/negative attitude – sentiment at advanced search of search.twitter.com

showing examples of types of tweets from libraries

Twitter can be embedded anywhere…

1. use it for reference
2. connect for customer service
3. broadcast news & events
4. solicit feedback
5. broaden professional networks
6. harness the hive

Lists overview

Conversation is Experience

Some web designers, especially those with a marketing or graphic design background, say they want to build an experience – but their designed experience, no matter who the website is for, tends to be designed like a movie or a rockstar’s website  – heavy on the Flash, on the intro page (complete with low-pitched ominous music), and it makes cute noises when you click on a link.

That’s great for a movie or a rockstar website. But most of us are building library, organization and company websites. What type of “experiences” should we be creating for those types of websites?

Conversation Spaces

Visitors to your website want to talk – with you, and with each other. Are you providing conversation spaces? The web is FULL of conversation now – check out Amazon, most newspaper and TV news sites, YouTube, this blog, Facebook, Twitter – all spaces where conversation can happen. And conversation DOES happen, because that’s what people do. We like to talk, we like to share, we like to voice our opinion (as I hope some of you do in the comments!).


So, my simple digital experience tip for today is this – make sure to create conversation spaces on your websites. Places like comment boxes, online forums or discussion groups around a topic, Twitter accounts for feedback, online places to Ask a Librarian, etc.

Enable Conversations

Also remember to actually enable conversations once you build the space. What’s that mean? In my library’s case, we allow unmoderated comments to fly free and easy onto our digital branch. I know what some of you are thinking – “OMG, David! Don’t you have a TON of cussing, swearing, name-calling, and other highly inappropriate things being posted? How could you EVER allow that!???!!??”

Um. No. We simply don’t have that. Yes, once in awhile we have some negative comments. But why would we moderate or not show those? Instead, we respond appropriately.

But some of you will need to moderate comments for one reason or the other (i.e., those old-fashioned city attorneys who haven’t yet discovered the joys of Facebook). If you DO moderate comments, make sure to do it quickly. Same day is good. Same hour is best. Why? Because it’s a CONVERSATION. If someone starts a conversation and you don’t get around to moderating the comment for a few days … well, you have killed the conversation. And that’s really no conversation at all.

pic by Adventures in Librarianship

The Social Web and Libraries: Twitter Alerts

Twitter Search (name recently changed from Summize) is a great tool for listening to your community. Here’s what Twitter says about Twitter Search: “Keeping up with interesting news and people you care about is one dimension of Twitter, but what if you need to find out what’s happening in the world beyond your personal timeline? There is an undeniable need to search, filter, and otherwise interact with the volumes of news and information being transmitted to Twitter every second. Twitter Search helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through our service.”

How do you use alerts to listen to your community?

OK… but how do you listen using Twitter Search? That’s easy. Do a search in Twitter Search… and along with the results page, you get an RSS feed of the search. Voila! You have just created a Twitter Alert for that search.

Here’s what I do, for both my personal blog and for my library, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. For both, I have a number of alerts set up:

David Lee King:

  • David King
  • David Lee King
  • davidleeking
  • dlk (because some of you call me DLK)

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library:

  • topeka library
  • topeka

The library alerts were much harder to set up – not too many people want to type in “Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library” – that uses up most of the 140 characters allowed by twitter! But Topeka Library captures some library-related conversation. Other libraries won’t have the same problem – for example, here’s what people are saying about the Seattle Public Library.

My Topeka alert is much more interesting, because it captures a variety of conversation – what’s happening in Topeka, what people are doing, what they like and don’t like. It’s capturing the general “feel” of the community, which can be useful. I’ve picked up on some pretty interesting thoughts from people this way:

  • (my library in the local news): “local headlines New Phone Book Honors Topeka Library: AT&T unveiled its new phone book cover …”
  • (people sharing their likes/dislikes about Topeka): “dude, what did you expect? it’s Kansas. I have to goto Topeka for biz sometimes. that town creeps me out.”
  • local news can be interesting (quite a few local broadcasters use Twitter): “Melissa_Brunner: topeka police bomb robot is now approaching the suspicious package”
  • This was cool – apparently, local realtors are discussing uses of web 2.0 for their business: “I’m looking forward to lunch with @rebr and @76cad to discuss WEB 2.0 uses in real estate in Topeka, KS”

So… what can you DO with this knowledge?

For some libraries and organizations, you’ll be eavesdropping on conversations about YOU. Respond accordingly. For example, someone had this to say about Kansas City Public Library: “Kansas City Public Library is awesome, and totally right by my house. appears to block im, though. strange.” Easy enough to respond to, right? It’s either a yes/no answer with a bit of explanation. Here’s another one: “Carrying my super-cool Wichita public library tote onto a plane to denver then to seattle.” Thank the person for loving your bag!

For other libraries (like my own), there won’t be too many direct conversations about the library… but you can still use Twitter alerts to:

  • get a general feel for what’s going on in your community
  • to connect with people using twitter (I’m connected to some local media types – those can be valuable connections)
  • use it to push the library’s tech (I could contact those realtors interested in web 2.0 and  discuss 2.0 and topeka with them, for example)

So – lots of value for your organization using Twitter Search!

photo: http://flickr.com/photos/banlon1964/46324162/

The Social Web and Libraries: Listening to your Community

Many of us work on listening to our user communities. In the library world, we listen at the reference desk and the circ desk. We hear about the library when we’re at the grocery store (and get asked questions, too :-) and at the local board meeting.

But how do you listen to your local digital community? How do you hear what your online customers are doing / saying / liking / or not liking about your library? Here are some possibilities, from the late 1990s – early 2000s. We’ll call these …

Traditional Listening Tools:

  • email: providing an email link and/or an email address on each page of the site, usually in the footer
  • An Ask Us page – can go to email, can also be the ask a librarian service point
  • a digital comment box (this was fancy back then!)

I’m calling them “traditional listening tools” because there are many more interesting ways to listen now. Check these out …

Shiny New Listening Tools:

  • Google Alerts – finds blog posts, newspaper articles, local media mentions, etc.
  • Technorati alerts – finds blog posts about you
  • Twitter searches (was Summize) – captures twitter conversations (more on Summize/twitter search in the next post)
  • Youtube alerts – do a search, then subscribe to the corresponding RSS feed.
  • Flickr alerts – subscribe to a tag related to your library
  • Subscribe to local blogs and local twitter feeds. This captures conversation in your community, by your patrons.

When you listen using both the Traditional Listening Tools and the Shiny New Listening Tools, you hear very different things. Traditional Listening Tools pick up specific conversation that is purposefully directed at you – via email. Someone has a question or comment, and sends that comment to you.

Shiny New Listening Tools help you discover actual conversations taking place. Those conversations are not necessarily directed at you – but they can certainly be about you. Listening in on Twitter, for example, might find things like this: “The comics section at the Seattle Public Library is f**king STUNNING.” (actual tweet from today). And this type of tweet is a golden opportunity to START a conversation. Let’s pretend this comment happened at the reference desk for a sec – how would you reply? Possibly with something like: “gee, thanks.” That’s a polite response… some of us would probably go one further, and say something like this: “Cool – thanks! So… WHY do you like it? How could we improve it?” This type of response continues a conversation, and pulls out useful info in the process.

DO THAT SAME THING IN YOUR SHINY NEW DIGITAL SETTING.

Again, more on that in my next post… but you get the idea. When you’re eavesdropping on conversations, you have the opportunity to chime in – correct wrong info, add to conversations about the library, and generally help humanize your digital branch by “talking back.”

Wow David – That Sounds Time-Consuming!

Does all this listening take a long time? No – not really. The set-up (doing the searches and subscribing to the feeds) takes the longest amount of time. But once your feeds are set up, it really doesn’t take much time to quickly scan through the results, looking quickly for questions, praises, suggestions, and conversation.

Start participating with those customers using your digital branch. If you do this fully, your listening experience can be transformed from one of eavesdropping to what amounts to a shiny new service point for your library. One that’s called Community Manager in the corporate world.

Your customers are already talking – are you listening?

photo: http://flickr.com/photos/practicalowl/433659667/

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.