Answering some Questions about Social Media

Once in awhile, some of you guys ask me questions via email. Usually, I just answer back in another email. This time, I thought I’d also answer via a blog post – you might find something useful here, too.

The question was about social media – how does your library do it, how is it used, who manages it, etc. Here are the questions and my answers:

1. Should social media responsibilities fall within the scope of public relations and marketing? Who in your library has the responsibility?

In Topeka, our Digital Services Director (that’s me) has oversight of social media. He acts as our library’s digital branch manager. That said, social media is a shared responsibility. Usually, a social media push starts in our Creative Group – a team made up of web, marketing, and public services staff. This team gets a feel for a new service, sets some preliminary goals, and sets up the service for the library. The next step for us is to create a pilot project team made up of public services staff (and the digital services director and possibly a marketing staff member too).

Then we expand as needed. For example, our Facebook team includes 12-15 staff members, mostly public services staff.

2. Is your website managed within your IT department?

Our IT department is part of our digital branch. IT is under the direction of the digital services director. Our web developer and web designer are both part of the IT department, and also part of the Creative Group. They do all the back end development of the site. Most of the content on our website is developed and maintained by other staff in the library (usually public services staff). The digital services director sometimes edits content, and meets with staff to help provide general suggestions and direction for library content. Marketing also helps with this.

3. How do you use social media and your website to engage with your communities?

We use social media to connect with our community by sharing library stuff and staff. “Stuff” includes our materials, events, and services. “Staff” means just what it sounds like – our staff involved in social media work to engage our community. For example, on our Facebook Page, our Facebook team focuses on these areas: readers advisory, current events and trends, and library materials, events, and services. In every post, our goal is to connect and engage with customers (in Facebook, the more engagement you get, the more eyes see your post), to point back to the library, to answer questions as they occur, and to share the library with our online community.

4. How much control of message and brand is important, in contrast with community engagement on the part of many staff throughout your library system?

I can’t say this strongly enough – in social media, you simply cannot control the message. Your customers do. Most modern marketing books, websites, blogs, etc. say that social media is all about engagement. It is probably 90% customer engagement and conversation, and only 10% marketing. If you flip that ratio to 100% marketing, your followers will simply tune you out.

Think about social media like this – who sits at your reference desk? Who runs your programs, classes, and events? The marketing department, or front-line public services staff? Does your marketing department control and edit the conversations taking place at the reference desk? I’m guessing not.

Social media is the same – it’s customer conversations and engagement, just like in your physical buildings. It’s just happening in your “digital building” – on your website and in your social media accounts.

photo by Mixy

New Presentation – Designing the Digital Branch – it’s everyone’s job!

Gina Millsap and I gave this presentation last week at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference (this year in Houston, TX). Great conference, fun people!

Especially check out the final part of this presentation – it will give you a little insight into how my library decides on strategy – through data-mapping and GIS market segmentation data. Really handy stuff.

Enjoy!

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Upcoming Webinar – Building the Digital Branch: Designing Effective Library Websites

If you’re interested in building better websites, make sure to sign up for my upcoming webinar for ALA TechSource on June 8 – Building the Digital Branch: Designing Effective Library Websites. Just click the link to sign up!

This will be the second time I have given this webinar. If you attended the first one, never fret! There will be new content – I’m going to talk about how Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (where I work) built our current website (the redesign went live on March 1).

Here’s the blurb for the webinar:

Every library needs a presence on the web. Whether you work at a large academic library or a public library in a small town, you need to be able to deliver service and content to patrons outside  your building. David Lee King will once again present this popular workshop, taking you through the process of building an effective, user-friendly library website that will expand and enhance your library’s presence in the community.

In this workshop, you’ll learn:

  • How to successfully plan and implement a redesign of your website
  • How to find out what patrons want from your website
  • How to use your website to interact with patrons
  • How to create strategic plans and goals for your website

Sign up NOW!

No Snow Days for the Digital Branch

So – who uses your website? Are they your “regulars” – those customers you see in the building every day? Or are they people you don’t normally see?

Ask that with no data behind it, and I’m sure you’ll get a variety of responses. But add in a bit of data, and it gets interesting.

For example, the above graphic is from my library’s Google analytics info – it’s showing the number of website visits we received in February. And it shows a normal arc of use – those dips you see are Friday – Sunday. Nothing looks out-of-the ordinary.

But guess what? We were closed one of those days because of snow. Can you guess which one from the graph? Probably not – it was the far left dot – Tuesday, February 1.

We had 1714 website visits that day. It was actually the website’s busiest Tuesday in February. On a snow day.

So what’s that mean? Hard to say, really – but here are some thoughts [update – just added/edited some points]:

  • your website users and your in the building users are two different user groups.
  • Customers inside our building aren’t our primary catalog users. Which makes sense – inside the building, customers can browse the shelves (on Feb 1, we had 793 visits to the catalog – 587 were referrals from our main website).
  • Perhaps we need to actually promote our catalog and our website … inside our building???
  • Said another way – Your primary website users are your online customers.
  • How are you supporting those online customers?

One thing it does show – there are no snow days for the digital branch. Your customers are visiting you, and using your primary services … whether you are open or closed.

How are you reaching out to, and supporting, those customers?

Digital Branch Managers Sound Off – Panel at Internet Librarian 2010

Yesterday, I headed up a panel on Digital Branches. Sarah Houghton-Jan, Bobbi Newman, and Matthew Hamilton were on the panel with me, and we basically answered questions – first some that I started us off with, then questions from the audience.

Here are some of the tweets generated from the discussion/panel (our hashtag was #dbranch) – hopefully, this sheds some light into what we discussed (and a ps – if you want to browse through the actual tweets, go to this twapperkeeper archive)!

  • cougarlibrarian: Ooh – no slides. I like it. #dbranch #intlib10
  • AspenWalker: Interactive session. #dbranch #intlib10 Meaning of digital branch evolving.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 a digital branch needs content, bldg, staff, a janitor #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 when Topeka turned on SMS reference, patrons in the branch used it too. And that’s great. Tools, not rules!
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 the #dbranch is not just 4 users outside the physical bldg – users inside at computers may use #dbranch features 2, like IM
  • cougarlibrarian: #dbranch Does one person edit/review staff contributions to website before publishing? #intlib10
  • wiredoriginals: Love the idea of ALL staff being involved #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 patron-created content @ the digital branch. Libraries can bring communities to world.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch teen-generated content is the prevalent model, but college-age & adult is emerging
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch digital storytelling grant funded projects for all ages archived on library’s site
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 who monitors user created content? “we’re not moderating crap-it goes right on” vs “each dept head proofreads/moderates” #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 I’m a fan of having radical trust, personally #dbranch
  • GMLGeek: #dbranch do you think press releases should be monitored?
  • cougarlibrarian: The #dbranch panel is answering my question! Thanks, guys!
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 @davidleeking a blog post should starts conversation, don’t treat it like a press release. Let’s talk, not FYI.
  • TeensTelluride: Digital storytelling – community projects to add content, start conversations, and engage. #INTLIB10 #dbranch
  • infogdss29: @shifted s’ok – this session is Made of Win without any bells and whistles like wifi & candy :p #intlib10 #dbranch
  • wiredoriginals: #intlib10 #dbranch like staff directory…why hide? Also like dividing blog topics to teams.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 focus on issues not format ie if you have to wear a nametag/sit behind the public desk, why not use your RL identity? #dbranch
  • cougarlibrarian: Trusting the staff to write appropriate content goes a long way in boosting morale, says @TheLiB. #dbranch #intlib10
  • zbriceno: Baby steps to online presence. #dbranch #intlib10
  • TeensTelluride: Wondering how to bridge the gap between IT and librarian roles? Administration & public services? #IntLib10 #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good question: how do you balance collaboration and digital content creation with security? A tech conundrum.
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good ?: how do you balance collaboration & digital content creation with security? Balance, conversation, beta.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 BETA programs!!! (tip from @TheLiB : pretend it’s a beta!) #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 IT subsumed into Digital Services Dept #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 great reminder that there are different types of and skill levels for technology #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 requirements for digital managers: inspiration, perseverance, communication #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 wanted in dig br mgr: creativity, marketing, communication, bravery (willing to try & maybe fail), mgt, perseverance
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 day-to-day job: LRP, RFP, experimenting, managing tech training, databases, eBooks, #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10. Cheerleading and networking is also part of the #dbranch manager job description
  • detailmatters: #dbranch is proof that a good panel is made from good chemistry and humor. Thanx y’all!