More on Friending

i just bought a macOne of my last posts, Don’t Friend Me, discussed my thoughts on libraries friending other libraries. A couple of commenters didn’t agree, and said so in my comments – which is cool – in fact, you might want to check out the discussion and chime in yourself, if you haven’t yet.

Instead of answering individual comments with another comment, I thought I’d lump a couple of comments/questions together and make another post out of it. See what you think, and feel free to comment, as always.

But first, you have some required reading. Go read Darren Rowse’s (the problogger guy) post, Defining Twitter Goals: A Tip for Successful Use of Twitter (on his new twitip blog). A quote: “Being successful at something is very hard if you don’t know what you want to achieve. It’s much easier to hit your target… if you know what it is.” He goes on to explain how goals are needed in the use of social networking sites. So… go read it … I’m waiting …

OK then. Here’s where I’m going … I think that many libraries haven’t really figured out goals for their shiny, new social networking sites/tools. When they start collecting friends, they immediately pick the safe route – friending primarily other libraries that are doing the same thing.

And that’s great for learning the new tool. But at some point, it’s a good thing to figure out what you really want out of the SN site, and then start pursuing that. My guess is this: the goal in friending isn’t to gather other libraries – it’s to gather patrons as friends.

Now, on to the comments:

Bobbi said:

“By nature people are joiners”

Have you read Groundswell? It purports that only a percentage of people are joiners. Check out their profile tool – for example, I put myself into it (42 year old US-based male), and here’s what their research shows: only 34% of my age group are joiners. More in the next quote…

“I’m not sure they do look to see who else is friends unless they are looking for people they know…”

Speaking for myself, I always look – I don’t want to friend a spam site, a person more interested in selling me something, etc… And I’ve read danah boyd, who says “… that “public displays of connection” serve as important identity signals that help people navigate the networked social world, in that an extended network may serve to validate identity information presented in profiles.” danah’s research implies that they do, in fact, look.

Kelly:

“If a patron wants to use a library Facebook or MySpace page, they will, if it works for them and fills a need they have”

Agreed – I have no beef with that. I think that’s putting all the responsibility on the patron, though. Libraries can do their part, too – by creating goals for a social networking site, and then working to meet those goals.

Susan:

“Why tell libraries/librarians that they are … friending all wrong?”

Because I have a lot of libraries asking me why they aren’t getting any friends, or complaining that their friends are all from other libraries … they see that, then assume “it must not be working, right?” Those libraries have already noticed that they aren’t connecting with their local communities (that’s what they tell me they want to do), and are wondering what to do about it. So I’m trying to help.

“Fear of change” and “not being perfect” as I recall are factors that we are encouraging librarians not to be.”

Exactly. That’s why I write – to throw out ideas. Hopefully some of them work for some people. No one’s perfect – but we can all improve, right?

“Why not talk about this issue the other way around, perhaps a post about the hierarchy of friending?”

I’m planning on that in a future post…

John:

“Then I began thinking about the great opportunity missed out by not intermingling here”

Right – that’s why we have a library/organizational account, and I have my personal account.

***************

Libraries do indeed exist to connect with their local communities – we’ve done this way before the web was around! A digital social network like Facebook or Twitter is no different. Our goals should still include connecting with and serving our patrons.

Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far:

The Social Web and Libraries

I was just doing some blog reading, and that triggered some ideas that I want to do some more thinking about. And YOU get to come along for the ride!

Here’s what I was reading:

First off – I think I like the term “Social Web” better than “Web 2.0.” Why? Web 2.0 is a vague, muddied term. It mixes the social with the uber-geek-techie in ways that is sometimes confusing.

But the Social Web? To me, by the time social web components are being used, the techie part has already been accomplished. The blog is built, the coding has been done, and the framework has been tidied up. It’s all ready to go – it’s ready for people to start connecting with people.

And that’s something that libraries do well – the social. When we’re working the reference desk, answering questions… we’re doing the social. When we’re in a meeting, discussing our programs… we’re doing the social. Having a social focus is a HUGE component of what we do as libraries.

So anyway…  I read the ReadWriteWeb article (which doesn’t really deal with the Social Web in a big way – but they used the term, thus the trigger for me), and then I remembered Sarah’s post on social networking tips. Some of her points touch on the need to be real/human/transparent with our library communities, and provide tips on how to do that.

So – how are you “being social” online? How do you “do” digital community? There’s really no easy answer to that question … but a lot of people are focused on figuring it out, at least in the commercial online world! I think there are some posts there, too. What do you think? What’s the social web all about? How do you connect with patrons online? Why would you even want to do that?

Let’s discuss…

[photo by Max’s Pixs’]

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.

Working Your Community’s Blogosphere

Recently, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger posted Five Reasons Why Mom Blogs Are the Blogs to Watch. Darren says “Mom blogs are poised to become the next big “It” when it comes to the internet–they’re gathering power like no other blogging niche and will only get bigger and better.” Then he lists some reasons why – go read the article to get that list.

And now, a thought (that I’m swiping from more than one presenter at PLA) that continues to swirl through my head weeks after PLA is over: what local community blogs are you reading? Sure – you read 800 library technology blogs, and another 500 non-library tech blogs (no, I don’t read that many blogs). But how about some local blogs?

The gist of what I heard at PLA goes something like this: subscribe to some blogs in your local community and start participating on them via commenting. What does that look like? Here are some initial thoughts:

  • answer questions they ask – even link to library content in your comment
  • answer those questions they needed to ask, but didn’t – you know what I mean…
  • Make normal, interested-sounding comments… that is, if you’re really interested
  • Supply useful additional details when you see them – again, linking to the library’s stuff in the process
  • Friend some locals on twitter/facebook/myspace/etc
  • Set up some vanity searches in technorati and Google alerts, and thank people when they mention your library! How cool would that be?

So yes – this is a bit more “active” than what librarians tend to be used to… but if you want to make an impact in your local [digital] community, you need to be participating. Because if you aren’t participating, you don’t exist.

Participating in Digital Community, or Lots of Links to David

I’ve been doing some thinking about all the different digital communities I participate in on the web, so I thought I’d create a list of them. It’s not a short list.

Things I use the most:

Video stuff:

  • My videoblog
  • blip.tv (I store all my videos at blip – they rock)
  • YouTube (sometimes I post video here too)
  • justin.tv (experimenting with this – they call it “lifecasting” – but in web years I’m an oldie, so it’s really just a new, easy-to-use webcam service)

Podcasting services (mainly experiments):

  • utterz (easy-to-use mobile service – done from my cell phone)
  • talkshoe (used mainly for the LITA election podcasts – not sure what to do with it now)

Music stuff (you can find me singing and musiking in a few different places):

  • last.fm (newest stuff goes here)
  • SoundClick (first place I put music – and it’s still around!)
  • SoundClick for my 80’s college band (we so rocked)
  • PureVolume (I have 4 songs here – not really doing anything with it)

Other things I toy with:

  • Pownce (just friend people who friend me here – really nothing else since I’m good with twitter)
  • Plaxo (link to people who link to me, not much else)
  • LinkedIn (mainly link to people who link to me)
  • Skype (davidleeking on skype)
  • Second Life (Daweed Quatro in Second Life)
  • MySpace (recently been actively used with some college friends who have just “discovered the web” :-) )
  • LibraryThing (I go on LibraryThing binges once in awhile…)

Seeing this list, some of you will have different reactions. Some of you might think “Dang, David – that’s WAY TOO MANY things to sign up for!” while others of you are probably thinking “slacker – get with the program!”

Either way, I’ll say this – if you want to fully understand how the emerging web works, you have to experience it. You have to sign up, friend people (the more the merrier), and PARTICIPATE. There’s no other way to really understand what’s going on and how you might use it personally or for your organization. Reading about it won’t give you a full grasp – it’s like reading about going to a major league ballgame vs. actually going to one – two very different experiences.

Closing Question – is there anything you use frequently that’s NOT on this list? What do you like about it? Something on this list you don’t use? Why?