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

A visual Social Media Strategy: Show, Don’t Tell

face2face at inc.comMy new book, Face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections, was just mentioned in this Inc.com article – Better Social Media Strategy: Show, Don’t Tell. Sweet!

In the article (sort of an author interview type article), I provide five tips on communicating with your organization’s customers using visual social media tools like Pinterest, Facebook photos, and Instagram.

Here are my five tips to create great visual communication that are mentioned in the article:

  1. Show your stuff
  2. Show your staff
  3. Get close
  4. Great lighting is key
  5. Make your photos helpful to customers

Each point is explained in more detail at Inc.com, so go read the article for more information (and thanks, Marla Tabaka, for the mention!).

And if you like that info … remember to buy my book!

 

3 Ways to be more Social in Social Spaces

Successful posts in social media spaces like Twitter or Facebook are the more social, friendly posts (at least for my library, anyway). How can you be more “social” in those spaces? here are three ways to do it:

  1. Think “Business Casual.” Anyone like that formal, stilted, edited to the max writing style that appears on brochures and markety emails from businesses? Nope – didn’t think so. That type of language doesn’t help you connect to the organization, does it? So don’t do that. Instead, try to make your photos, videos, blog posts, and status updates more “business causal.” How do you do that? Here’s one way – write like you talk. That way, your posts will naturally sound more conversational. More in the next post!
  2. Ask, then Respond. Ask questions. Ask for input. Ask readers to add their thoughts. For example, if you share a list of five favorite action movies in Facebook, make sure to include a question asking readers to add their favorites, or to add what’s missing in the list. People love adding their own favorites to a list!
  3. Include your customers. So you asked your customers to add their favorites to your list in #2. That’s awesome … and that can be your next post! Compile that list of customer favorites, post it, and include everyone’s name that added to the list. The people you included might share that list out (i.e., an appeal to vanity), and more customers will add to the list, too.

So – those are some ideas to be more social in social spaces. Do you have any additions to this list (yes, I’m doing #2 right now)? Please add them in the comments below!

If you liked this post, you’ll also like my new book, Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media tools to Create Great Customer Connections. Get it now!

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections

Image from Bigstock

Getting More Facebook Clicks – an experiment and some thoughts

our popular facebook post

My library has been running some experiments and pilot projects on our Facebook Page – some on our own, and some with help from Ben Bizzle (who’s doing some research on Facebook Pages) and so far, they have been really successful. This post explains one of them.

See the ecards image? Ben had posted this to a couple of library Facebook Pages, and it was pretty successful – so he asked if I could post it to Topeka’s Facebook Page. So I did – at what I thought would be a rotten time to post – 9:08 am on a Thursday morning.

I was wrong.

This post is the most popular post EVER for Topeka’s Facebook Page. Here are the basic stats I’m getting for it so far:

  • 237 Likes
  • 88 Shares
  • 33 Comments

And from Facebook Insights, I’m seeing this:

  • Reach – 3900 (Reach is the number of unique people who have seen the post)
  • Engaged Users – 748 (Engaged Users is the number of unique users who have clicked on the post)
  • Talking about This – 660 (Talking about This is the number of unique users who have clicked like, commented on, or shared the post anywhere – not just on your page)
  • Virality – 16.92% (Virality is the percentage of people who have clicked the story from the page post out of the total number of unique people who have seen it).

A bit more about Virality, because for us anyway, this is HUGE. The median Virality rate for Facebook Pages, according to ZDNet anyway, tends to be around 1.92%, and a really stong Virality rate, meaning your post was pretty popular, is around +2.5%.

So you can see why I’m getting a wee bit excited about a 16.92% rate, right? That is HUGE. And not just “huge for my little ole Topeka Library” huge. This is actually a pretty big accomplishment. And one I’d like to see more of on my library’s Facebook Page.

So what’s going on here? Why did this particular post get so big? Here are some thoughts on that (you might have some ideas too – I’d love to hear them):

  • It’s visual. Visual is HOT right now. Think Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, etc. And honestly, those victorian ecard thingies are pretty hot too at the moment. So we were picking up on a trendy thing.
  • Visual is also pretty useful. The image supports the message of the post, so more people get it (i.e., those visual thinkers).
  • Another trend – images with words. People like finding an image and putting funny words on them. So … another trendy thing that people might enjoy if done well.
  • The message connects with something our customers love. As in books and reading.
  • Hit on an emotion. This particular message touched on a feeling that apparently many readers have – that horrid feeling towards the end of a book, when you know you’re almost done and there’s NO MORE. I can relate – I had that feeling towards the end of book 7 of the Harry Potter series. So we hit a nerve that our customers could relate to.
  • We asked for it. We asked a question in the post (“We’re curious – does this ever happen to you?”) and people answered the question.

OK David, so you got a lot of likes and comments and shares. So what? How does that help the library? I have an answer for that. A couple of them:

  • Helps your message Rise to the Top: Here’s how Facebook works right now. You don’t see everything. Most people only see highlights (called Top Stories) of the daily postings of the people and organizations they have friended (that’s the default setting – you have to actually click Sort to see everything). If you post stuff that’s popular and a bit viral, that means that those particular posts will “rise to the top” and will actually be seen by more people.
  • More eyes is a good thing: When someone likes, shares, or comments on your post, that post has a good chance of being seen by that person’s Facebook friends, too. So the more interaction you get, the farther your reach spreads out.
  • Like once, might like more: If someone likes one of your posts, they are more likely to watch for and interact with more of your posts. So be silly, funny, or tongue-in-cheek sometimes, and share links to books, events, or online resources other times. Your Facebook fans will start to notice, and will end up seeing and interacting with more of YOUR LIBRARY.
  • Time of day: experiment with posting at different times of the day. We have been posting a lot at night, getting that evening Facebook crowd. By posting at 9am, who did we get? My guess – people who just got to work … who also have their Facebook account up, either on their work computer or on a mobile device sitting at their desk.

I’d love to hear your Facebook Page successes! Share away!

Oh – and if you like this post, you might also like my new book, called Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media tools to Create Great Customer Connections. Get it now!

Face2Face – my Handheld Librarian 7 Presentation

I had the honor of giving a presentation at last week’s Handheld Librarian 7 online conference. I presented a very condensed version of my book, Face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

The presentation slides are embedded above – enjoy!

PS – earlier that day, I gave another Social Media 101 presentation at a local Goodyear plant. That was a fun group to present to – lots of questions! Here are those slides, too – just for kicks.