Tidy up your Twitter Followers

I recently went through my library’s Twitter followers and “cleaned up” our follower list. What was I looking for? Mainly, that we are following people living in our service area. Here’s what I did:

First off, I used FriendorFollow. It’s a pretty handy tool that shows, among other things, who follows you, who doesn’t follow back, etc.

Then, I went through our list of Twitter followers, one at a time, and friended these types of a accounts:

  • Do they live in Topeka or Shawnee County?
  • Do they seem to live in Kansas, and do we share some Twitter friends (another indicator that they are in our service area)?
  • If they mention Topeka or Kansas in their bio or recent tweets
  • regional businesses (probably have employees in our service area)

If they met these criteria, I friended them back.

I unfriended some accounts, too. Here’s what I unfriended:

  • If they haven’t tweeted in over a year – that indicates they don’t actively use the account
  • If they never tweeted
  • If their account is private
  • If they don’t live in our service area

So – I ended up unfriending some libraries, some librarians, some people who had moved out of the area, and some celebrities that we had friended. Not in our service are? We dump em.

What did that achieve? Hopefully, more interaction. More followers that might actually be interested in their local library and what we tweet. And several hundred more followers that we are connected to!

That’s what I did – do you ever clean up follower lists in your organization’s Twitter or Facebook accounts? If so, what do YOU look for? Please share!

Image from Michael Sauers

Turning Strangers into Friends

The Thank You Economy

I just read The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. Good read. Here’s an interesting thought I got out of it that relates to libraries.

On page 53, he writes about Nielson conducting a study on what drives consumer trust. 70% of people said they turn to family and friends for advice when making purchasing decisions.

Then Gary says this: “The ROI of your relationship with your mother is going to be much higher than that of the one you have with a good friend. Both, however, are more valuable than the one you have with an acquaintance, which trumps the relationship you have with a stranger. Without social media, you and your customer are relegated to strangers; with it, depending on your efforts, you can potentially upgrade your relationship to that of casual acquaintances, and even, in time, to friends. The power of that relationship can go so far as to convert a casual browser into a committed buyer, or a buyer into an advocate.” (pg 54-55).

This idea of turning strangers into friends works great in libraries, too. The goal is simply this – become casual acquaintances, or even friends, with our customers. We have done that for years in our buildings – I’d say that’s business as usual.

Online? We can do the same thing by using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. Start friending people in your community. Your customers. That’s how you start turning strangers into friends … and into customers of your library.

Here’s what Gary did – he created Twitter alerts for wine words like Merlot. When someone had a question about that term, he answered it … and started growing a reputation about actually knowing something about wine.

We know stuff too – we are librarians, after all! Use a tool like Twitter. Do a zip code search for your local area or a town search … then add some words to that search, like book, reading, etc. Or business terms … or whatever the hot issues in your town happen to be.

Then start answering questions or making comments as they seem relevant. Point to your stuff, like the book that answers it, when it makes sense. Be helpful … like you already are in your building.

It’s a way to get out in the community without actually leaving the air conditioning!

Pic by Steven Rosenbaum

Humanizing your Facebook Pages

A “Book and Digital Media Studies” student (wow – what a cool-sounding program!) emailed me last week, asking about my favorite university library Facebook Pages. Well … to be honest, I can’t say I frequent university library Facebook Pages much.

But I followed up a bit, and did a search in Facebook for university library then narrowed the search to Pages, and found over 500 university libraries with Facebook Pages.

As I browsed through the list, I started noticing that some Pages had low friend counts in the 0-30 range, and many were in the 70-200 range. And there were a handful that had thousands of friends:

Why do these Pages have more friends? Glancing through them, it looks like they are doing one thing – they are humanizing their Facebook Pages. What do I mean by that?

They’re “doing stuff.” Stuff like this:

  • Posting regular status updates
  • Interacting with visitors in the comments of status updates – some status updates have 20-30 comments, as well as “Likes”
  • Pointing to stuff that’s happening in the library (ie., lectures)
  • Regularly add photos and videos – sometimes hundreds of them.
  • They use Facebook’s Events feature to list events.

How about libraries with a low fan count? Here’s one example – the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library, with 7 fans. What are they doing? Nothing. They have 1 status update, from August 2009. Their most recent activity was adding the library’s website url, mailing address, and phone number.

So, to answer the question “Do students friend university library Facebook Pages?” (I hear that one a lot) the answer would be yes – IF those pages are being humanized. Looks like the pages with high fan counts have constant activity streams. Pretty much every day or so, something is happening on those Pages – there are regular status update posts, photos or videos are being added, and event reminders are being posted.

Basically, activity attracts Facebook users. Think of your Facebook Page like a party. Anyone ever attended a dead party? If there’s nothing going on, the party goers quickly find an excuse to leave, because the party is boring, right? In the same way, if your Facebook Page has no updates … your party is boring, and you are inviting your students to go do something else.

This is easily fixable if you do one simple thing. Post an update every day, and make it interesting. Examples from the Fan-heavy pages above include helping students out – pointing to a book/resource that has the “answers” for an assignment, just sharing an interesting tidbit of university or library news, sharing quotes, etc. Pretty normal stuff – just shared with Facebook users.

But if you’re not human, if nothing’s going on … no one will show up to your party.

Bunny by Alyssa Miller

The Librarian in Black has a New Blog!

Anyone read Sarah Houghton-Jan’s blog, the Librarian in Black? I know I do – Sarah always has some great stuff to share. Well, she has an important announcement – she has a shiny new blog & URL!

From Sarah:

“Librarian in Black has been updated, and moved. Please update your links, bookmarks, and RSS feeds.”

So go ahead, click the links, update your RSS feed readers, subscribe via email, whatever you usually do … I’m waiting…

Making Connections

Social Media connections in my inboxIf you sign up and use social media tools, here’s what might happen to you: the image accompanying this post is my inbox. I recently visited my parents, and I only answered pressing emails … but didn’t really clear stuff out like normal.

Check out the pic – everyone wants to follow! Twitter follow requests … Facebook friend requests … blip.fm new listeners … Friendfeed subscribers … Flickr contacts … even a request to do something from church (they’re using a cool 2.0-ish tool for worship team scheduling). Probably a couple of blog comments in there, too. There were 2 pages of this.

And some of you play with this stuff more than me … I can only imagine what YOUR inbox looks like!

Who to friend? Who to ignore? Who to respond to? And when? Here’s what I do:

  • Twitter: I get more of these than the others, so I’m a bit pickier here. I friend you if you sound interesting and don’t look like a spammer. I read your bio and a couple of tweets. Sometimes, I look at your follow-to-follower ratio. I usually don’t follow other libraries or people that sound too much like snakeoil salesmen (i.e, that mention SEO/make money online/I’ll make your life better stuff).
  • Also picky with Flickr – I’ll follow you if I know you, if I’ve met you, or if I might meet you professionally (i.e., if you’re a librarian or a social media type).
  • Facebook: I follow most people who follow me. I recently had a run of high school chums discover Facebook.
  • blip.fm: If you follow me as a listener, I’ll follow you back.
  • Friendfeed: Same – I follow back almost everyone who follows me.
  • In any of these, if you send me a message/tweet me/write on my wall, I’ll read it and usually respond if it makes sense to do so. Sometimes I read it, think “huh” and move on – no response needed.
  • Also – if I come across your blog, your book, or an interesting tweet/post, I might friend/follow you – so I can receive more interesting content from you!

When do I do this? Personally, I usually when I read it and/or when it’s convenient to do so (for MPOW, it’s slightly different – I might cover that in another post). I think of follow requests and comments/tweets/wall posts as introductions and conversation, so it makes sense to me to do it sooner rather than later. But then, I don’t have a ton of them, and find it’s simply easier to quickly deal with a follow request quickly and move on, rather than letting them pile up (unless I’m out of town or away from the web for a bit).

What do you do? Who do you friend? And when do you find the time? Stuff to think about…