Delicious and other Services – Have a Backup Plan?

So last week, some of you probably heard that the Delicious.com service was possibly being – their term – “sunset.” Then they announced that it wasn’t, and that they hope to find another home for the service outside of Yahoo.

My library doesn’t use Delicious for our website – but some libraries rely pretty heavily on the service for things like a linkroll. I know of more than one library who replaced in-house reference web link databases with the Delicious service. I’m guessing a couple of us were scrambling around, looking for alternatives (Diigo is one good one that I’m familiar with), and figuring out how to export their links out of Delicious.

Here’s what I’m interested in – how much do we depend on these third party services for essential parts of our website? Delicious is one example … what if Yahoo decided to do the same thing to Flickr, or if Google decided to do that to Youtube or even their Google Accounts (many organizations have switched their email/storage/messaging systems to Google from hosting them in-house)?

There are definitely alternatives to most of these services, and I’m not sure that dumping content into one primary service and one “just in case” backup service is worthy of our time (though I personally do that with my Flickr photos). And honestly, I’m not sure that people who read my blog would have that much trouble finding alternatives (I know my library wouldn’t, anyway).

But what about understaffed, or smaller libraries that don’t have dedicated web dudes? For example, Topeka could easily build a links database – we have those skills in-house. But many libraries and organizations don’t have those skillsets, which is one reason why they chose a 3rd party tool in the first place – free/cheap and easy. And 3rd party tools are great – I certainly don’t want to store and host all the videos Topeka creates on an in-house server.

I think one way to tackle this is to simply be vigilant:

  • stay up-to-date on web tools by trying them out, reading about them, etc
  • pick the best tool at the time – look for features and stability – ok, and awesomeness :-)
  • switch services when the next, better tool comes around – instead of waiting until one service closes its doors

That’s one way to deal with it – are there others?

pic by Ronn Ashore

Making Connections – the Institutional Version

Last post, I covered things I think about when making personal friend connections in a bunch of social networks I use. I also said “for MPOW, it’s slightly different – I might cover that in another post.” Here’s that other post.

As an institution, who should you friend? Why? This is pretty subjective of course, but here are some general guidelines to get you started:

Friend patrons/customers/members. Friend people living in your service area, or who are likely to use your services. Find them using tools like Twitter’s Find People search or any number of third party search services. Your goal is to share your stuff, your events, and yourselves with other people and organizations who can actually use and benefit your content in  a social network.

If someone friends you, check them out. Look at their posts, look at their bio, and where they’re from. If they live close by, friend them. Then start sharing.

Friend other local organizations. Again, the goal is to share your stuff with other organizations that can potentially partner with you, or otherwise send people your way.

Friend others who are interested in your stuff. Have a local history collection that focuses on a certain individual or era? Friend others who are interested in the same things. This should hold true especially on social networks that focus on multimedia, like Flickr and YouTube.

Other Considerations

Facebook Groups
– these can have a narrower focus, so you might be friending fewer people in a group, especially if it’s more of a niche group. For example, if you have a Facebook Group focused on teens, you’ll want to friend actual teens, rather than just anyone of any age.

YouTube – do your local news media outlets have YouTube accounts? Make sure to friend them, and favorite some of their videos.

Finally, be friend-neutral. Don’t agree with what the person says, or don’t like their content? Remind yourself that this isn’t your personal social network you’re developing, but your organization’s network. And most likeley, you take all shapes and sizes of friend connections.

Further reading: my set of posts on attracting friends, starting with Don’t Friend Me.

What am I missing? Any other groups it might be good to friend? Not to friend?

photo from sausyn

SXSWi2009: From Flickr and Beyond: Lessons in Community Management

Panelists: Heather Champ – flickr, Mario Anima – CurrentTV, Matthew Stinchcomb – Etsy, Jessamyn West – MetaFilter (aside – LIBRARIANS ROCK), and Micah Schaffer – YouTube

Excellent – Jessamyn introduced the Metafilter part of her jobs, then mentioned I’m a public librarian in my day job. Awesomeness.

Metafilter didn’t have moderation for about the first 5 years. Started out as some dude’s blog, and grew from there. They recently added flagging, to mark content as breaking the guidelines.

Youtube – harder to perceive trends as they grew. They’re figuring out how to do it by slicing metrics in different ways

Etsy – Challenge – how to grow big but to stay small at the same time. A goal – make sre they’re having a dialogue. Have to remember the community is king before they do anything.

CurrentTV – they have different types of communities, ie., viewers and producers – they have to balance that.

They all mentioned mean names their communities have called them at times.

The YouTube guy – probably speaking the truth about YouTUbe – but he’s talking about bikinis and sex a lot. His point was that their site has a diversity of content, and sometimes you might not want, say, a bikini to mix with your hedgehog videos.

(aside – dude – don’t sit by two women and say “the internet’s about sex” and talk about liking bikini videos. Just sayin.

CurrentTV guy talks about content of conversations. IE., your comment will be taken down if you say “I will hunt you down …” etc. They actually say edit that out, and we’ll put it back up.

YouTube – criticism is good. They have to balance good, constructive criticism with crazy person criticism.

Flickr – Heather has learned when NOT to respond. She lets craxy people “dig their hole to crazy town” by not responding – it allows the community to notice and ignore the crazy person.

CurrentTV has multiple ways to deliver feedback – email, twitter, video responses, etc.

Etsy agrees – communicate in as many ways as possible.

YouTube – realize you’ll have to adapt your policies and guidelines as your site and your product evolve.

Etsy – people use site and communicate in ways you don’t expect – because of that, they have to revisit their policies every few months.

Metafilter – be able to explain your rules, and why you think that rule is a good one

Q&A now:

Q: How do you get community engagement in flickr?

A: You get what you give. You have to participate in groups for example. I’d add that you have to have a real community / network first – they’ll view and comment. Also wondering if he’s actually ASKED for comments?

Q: Does YouTube delete comments?

A: Their community guidelines apply to comments. Comments are the lowest barrier to entry at YouTube – it’s easy.

A: Allow members to determine what’s ok and what’s not.

Q: question about being logged in and being stupid …

A: Etsy – login name is same as their shop name, so your reputation follows you big time.

Q: Clay Shirky asked a question – funniest thing with community disagreeing with them…

A: Jessamyn – they banned someone, community started an “unban this user” …

A: Etsy – the Etsy 5 thing …

A: CurrentTV – a guy constantly complained a lot, then “asked for a divorce”

Q: what happens when another user community invades your own

A: flickr … you have to protect your own community first, really watch it – she gave a few examples. She calls them community crashers

YouTube Being Naughty Today

youtube being naughtyInteresting problem I had to deal with today … Here’s the run-down:

A month or so ago, some of my library’s teen patrons participated in a Making Mini Movie Masterpieces program held at my library. Cool program!

One of our librarians just posted the videos some of the teens made to YouTube … and guess what? In the related videos section of the video page (and also on the related videos flash thing that plays at the end of an embedded YouTube video), some … let’s just say “questionable” videos appeared.

Here’s what I think happened: YouTube found “similar” videos based on keywords. And the keywords it found in our video include these words in the title and description: mini teen teens . Dump those into YouTube and you’ll unfortunately find some pretty “interesting” videos.

Naturally, we don’t really want those thumbnails appearing on our library’s website, so we are fixing it in two ways:

  1. Good idea from our Web Developer: “There is an option when creating the embed code to include or not include links to “related” video.  For this one I have gone ahead and embedded a new video without the related video thumbs at the end.”
  2. From me: Change the title of the video “Making Mini Movie Masterpieces” to something without the word “mini” (maybe just “Making Movie Masterpieces”) … and remove the “teen” and “teens” words in the description – maybe change them to “young adult.”

What an odd problem … and something you might want to be on the lookout for. ANyone else run into this type of problem, and if so – what did you do?

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: