Attracting Friends, Part 2: Twitter

In my last post, Attracting Friends, Part 1, I discussed how to attract friends for your library social networks generally … by doing the hard work. Now on to the specific tools – how do you find and attract friends, as an organization, using Twitter? Here are some ideas:

  • use local services like TwitterLocal or TwitterMap [dead now – removed the link] to discover local twitter users, and subscribe to their feed. Say hi. Interact with them. They won’t friend you if they don’t know you’re there.
  • put a Twitter chicklet on your site. You can use a chicklet that does a specific thing, like TwitterCounter (shows the number of people following you – I have an example on my site), or a generic chicklet/graphic link that simply announces that you use twitter. Go one better, and say “follow me on Twitter” in your link/chicklet. This announces that you’re looking for followers.
  • Does your organization have accounts set up in other social networks, like Facebook, flickr, or YouTube? Mention your Twitter account on those other profile pages.
  • Do local media/businesses use twitter? Connect with them. For example, in Topeka, my twitter friends include some tv news anchors and the general manager of a local news station. Connect with them, and start talking. Others that have connected with them will notice, and maybe follow you.

What am I missing? Please share!

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

Attracting Friends, Part 1

A couple posts ago, I suggested that libraries stop friending other libraries and to focus instead on their local community. (aside – If you need/want to connect with other librarians, that’s great – make your own personal account for that).

Now, on to how? What are the different ways one can friend others in popular social networking sites, and how can you find and attract friends in each? That’s a bit more difficult, and takes a bit more work. I’ll take a couple of posts and give some pointers (and would love for you to join in and suggest your own idea,s too!).

Here are some general ideas that work for most of the new social networking tools:

  • Setting goals (have I mentioned this one enough?). You need to figure out what you want to achieve with your twitter/facebook/etc account. Do this first!
  • Focus on a target audience – it might help to focus on a target audience, rather than to focus on a generic “patron.”
  • Be human, instead of a stuffy organization. @Zappos and @Timbuk2 do this well in Twitter – when you send them a question or comment about their product, you generally get a real, live person replying, being helpful, answering questions, etc. (hmm… that sorta sounds like a reference librarian).
  • Good content rules! Make interesting posts/tweets/updates
  • Advertise/promote it! Think business cards in the library, articles in the library newsletter, etc.
  • Link to it on your website, and explain what it is and why I should care.
  • Find out where people who use these tools hang out, and go there. And post flyers, pass out cards with your social networking info on it, etc. in those establishments (I’m thinking bulletin board in a coffee shop here).
  • Teach classes on the tool. Show attendees how to set up an account, and how to follow the library. Instant followers!
  • Even better – do the same thing at a local chamber brown bag lunch or other business oriented gathering. Show them how the library can meet real needs via these tools.
  • Library programs/events? Take the first 2 minutes and push it there.
  • Colleges/high schools nearby? Put an ad in their newspapers.
  • How about a local newspaper or local magazine? Put an ad there or check into writing an article for them (better yet, a weekly tech column).

You might have noticed that most of my suggestions on getting friends for social networking tools … doesn’t involve using the tool to make friends. Instead, it’s all about YOU leaving the library and meeting your community. Getting out of the building. Actively introducing your community to these tools. Or even talking to peole inside your library that you notice use the tools.

That’s the hard part – lots of walking and talking and meeting people, physically and digitally. But it will pay off.

Next post – I’ll look at some specifics of finding friends by using the tools – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr.

Now – on to your ideas. How do you get friends with social networking tools? Have I left off anything?

photo credit

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

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:

Don’t Friend Me!

do your library friends look like this?Libraries… stop friending me! What???

I’m noticing that when a library decides to start a flickr account, a twitter feed, or create a Facebook page, they naturally want to start “making friends.” So what do they do? They friend me. Or you. Or they friend other libraries.

This is bad.

Why?

Social networks exist to connect with other people, right? When your organization decides, say, to create a Facebook page … who are you trying to connect with? Me? I don’t live in your neighborhood. Another library on the other side of the world? They’re not going to use your services.

Who are you trying to connect with? If you can’t answer this question, take a breather from the web for a couple of days and figure out your answer. Think about it for a sec – you wouldn’t open a new branch if you didn’t know your target audience, would you? Do you invite people to a book group with no idea of what book to read or who the target audience is? I hope not.

It’s the same with social network sites – you need to establish a target audience, and then work on finding that audience. Once you do that, my guess is this – the friends you want to attract probably don’t include me or a library from the other side of the country!

Another way to look at this is from your customers’ point of view. If I use [fill in your favorite social tool here], and I discover your page, one of the first things I might do is check out who your friends are. If they are mainly other libraries, I might decide it’s a librarian thing, and not for me. I’m gone!

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to get ideas from other libraries, and to spy on their social media tools to see what they’re doing. But if you can, try not to accept too many friend requests from other libraries … or your friend page will look more like an ALA reunion rather than a true reflection of your local community.

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