Widening your Nets, Decentralizing your Web Services

Last summer while at ALA’s annual conference in the Chicago area, a couple friends and I were eating lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe and saw this ad on one of the tables.

facebook URL ad

The interesting thing about the ad wasn’t so much the content itself (though I’m sure it’s good stuff). We got all geeked out over the URL associated with the ad. Why? Because they didn’t point to their website.

Instead, they pointed directly to their Facebook Page.

Think about that for a sec, because there are some pretty large implications for library web services. I know that many of us have worked for years to centralize all our websites, tools, and services into one place – preferably at www.mylibrarysnamegoeshere.org …. some of us have worked hard to get federated search tools to work on that library website, and have even integrated some of our library catalog content into our websites, as well.

But people aren’t visiting our websites (well, not in droves, anyway). They are going to other places, like Facebook (and YouTube, and Google, and …). And of course we should be active in some of those social sites. But what about pointing directly to those social sites … in an ad? That’s taking it one step further, isn’t it? Pointing directly AWAY from our website … to some social tool like Facebook?

This could work for libraries. If you have a Facebook Page, check out your Page demographics (Facebook provides some basic stats on Facebook Page visitors). Who’s your main audience in Facebook? Doing anything for that group of patrons already?

If so, you might think of taking it one step further, and pointing them directly to the Facebook Page. Why?

  • This group already uses Facebook
  • Your Facebook Page comes ready-made for interaction – comments, discussions, and likes.
  • it can have an easy-to-remember URL (i.e., ours is facebook.com/topekalibrary)
  • For the customer, it’s a direct connection to the library. Once they “become a fan,” they get all your stuff… reminders, questions,comments, etc.

But even better – for us sneaky librarians, it’s also a direct connection to a segment of our customers. But not just any customers – these customers already use Facebook and actually LIKE to interact. If they have become a fan of your library, that means they like to interact … with the library.

So don’t be shy! Spread out your nets … decentralize those web services. Send out status updates. Ask questions. Start discussions. Get feedback about new services. And in the process, have fun interacting with a group that actually WANTS to interact.