Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tweet, Tag, Connect: Using Social Networking in Your Public Library

Staff from the Terrebonne Parish Library did the presentation. Lauren Ledet and Tracy Guyan.

Much of the discussion is on the Facebook "Fan Page" and differences between the two.

As a library they have a profile page, and do not see much use. See a lot of spam, marketing from authors on the profile page. For the general public, most use the fan page. For events, you cannot "invite" people who are fans, even though you can invite those who are "friends" on the profile page.

The fan page is linked to their Twitter account. One disadvantages is that Twitter is limited to 140 characters. They use for shortened links.

They have a MySpace account, but are finding that the volume of use is very much lower. Also feel like Facebook is "more professional."

As the administrator of their Facebook page, they can see demographics of users. In Terrebonne, Lauren is the only one who posts. Some libraries have multiple posters. In Terrebonne, Lauren does post at the request of other staff (like her director!).

Use Facebook for marketing of events, and Lauren showed several examples. She has "friended" all of the local reporters so that they get all the updates and tweets. Tries to post every day, takes about 30 - 60 minutes distributed over the day. Because it is for the whole parish system, she tries to be sure to post for each of the locations.

They do not promote at library card sign ups, but do promote it in newsletters and signature files for email. An excellent question about choosing between Twitter and Facebook. Lauren noted that she deals with more people on Facebook, and with more organizations on Twitter.

Ouachita Parish Library is using links to promote summer reading and expects that the use of the Facebook page will skyrocket.

Tracy mentioned that they do not have a policy on social networking. They monitor what is said, however.

Tracy talked about "Text a Librarian" service which costs them about $1600 per year [originally incorrectly posted as $16,000 per year -- Lauren corrected me]. Cost is based on how many people are available to answer a question. She demonstrated the service. For them, they use Meebo to integrate all of the chat and message services. There are set hours, and there is an auto-response for when they are closed. It does have templates to answer common questions (like hours). For the people answering there is also a toolbox of commonly used URLs. Not a high volume serve.

Some of the libraries represented in the audience have much higher use (1,800/month in one). Those libraries market directly to teens, and encourage them to save the number when they make the presentation.

Terrebonne has a Meebo widget on the web site. Meebo is answers questions only at the Reference Desk at the main library (the branches are small, and have very limited staff). They have a poll on their web site.

They have also posted some things to YouTube including how to use databases, Interlibrary Loan, how to use "Text-a-Librarian," and other events. They had a former staff member who had also been a film maker so the quality is good. They have a total of 19 videos posted.

The Reference Department also has a blog. They monitor what is posted. It reflects the color scheme of the library web site. Staff will post items relevant to the date, and they repeat some of the items from Facebook/Twitter.

They had a spike in users when the offered workshops on how to use social networking sites.

The Library Director noted that when they added Facebook, etc. on the Library's site, the schools were required to block the site.

Discussion continued, but I want to add this before the session ends.

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