Twitter Screencast

Here is a introduction to Twitter tutorial I put together.

Introduction to Twitter

It goes over the basics of writing a tweet, following a user and searching hash tags.  I found it extremely hard to create this tutorial and it took several tries to even get this far.  I give credit to those who constantly create such content as it was not easy for me.  I used an outline of points I wanted to cover but even then trying to follow this outline and speak while demoing was difficult. Perhaps as a person not used to public speaking it might have been better to have an actual script written out before hand. Never the less I did find it interesting how easy the technical aspect was of creating a Jing account, recording a video and then uploading it to Screencast was.

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Citation Linker Tutorial

I watched the video for the Citation Linker on the SJSU library website.  I thought it was well done.  I though it was extremely well done.  The person speaking was very clear, the pacing was done well and the step by step tutorial was well laid out.  I also appreciated that they included the various ways of contacting the library if the user has any questions.

The only down side I saw with this video was the tone was rather bland and monotone.  There really was no inflection in the speaker’s voice and I find that when a presentation is giving in a relatively flat, monotone voice I start to space out instead of paying attention.

At just around four minutes long I think the length was ideal.  I initially started off listening to a teacher feature video on the Moreau Catholic High School’s library site but at almost 14 minutes long I felt it went on for far too much time.  It’s hard to sit there and listen for that length of time.

Overall, the Citation Tracker video was great in covering the content in a concise, easy to follow manner and in a window of time that keeps the user’s interest.

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Building an Active Community & Dealing With Anonymous Users

As a book blogger who has struggled to create a more interactive blog I can tell you that building an active community is not an easy task.  One obvious statistic that many will look at even if it may not be an accurate measurement is number of comments on a blog post.  This doesn’t show how many users actually read the post or found it useful because many won’t leave a comment but it’s something that is easy for others to view.

However, on the other side you can also face the problem of the over active anonymous users who may leave a flood of comments that are unhelpful or even hurtful.  As Grohol mentions in Anonymity and Online Community the anonymity possible online allows people to hide behind their computer and make more hurtful comments without much fear of ramifications.

Finding a good balance between the two extremes takes work and an active community manager.  That person needs to make people feel welcome in the community and comfortable asking their questions or making a comment.  They also need to try to keep hurtful comments in check while also not being to over bearing in their presence.

The time commitment required for building a successful community is one aspect I feel many organizations underestimate.  Many feel like simply posting content is enough to make a community active but in a majority of the cases this is untrue.  These groups also need to realize that building an active community isn’t a quick task and they should not get discouraged early on.

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Move from Expert Wisdom to Crowd Wisdom

I found this week’s readings fascinating and had to go through all the articles about group think, wisdom, etc.  It makes sense that if you put together a diverse group of people who are applying their expertise and providing a new viewpoint towards a problem, as in the case Goldcorp mentioned by Tapscott and Williams, new solutions are bound to pop up.  However, Jenkins’ article makes an important distinction between collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds.  In Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds anonymous data is gathered from a large group of people who are not influenced by each other where as Levy’s Collective Intelligence theory focuses on large groups of people who are sharing information and collaborating to come up with a solution.

I can see both models having positive and negative aspects.  For the Surowiecki model one does not have to worry that someone with a strong ability to influence others is skewing the data coming out of a scenario and therefore producing less accurate data.  However, since this group of people have no interaction they also lose the ability to discuss and build on top of each others ideas and possibly coming up with a better solution.  In comparison Levy’s collective intelligence approach literally has a group of people working together, sharing information and coming up with a solution.  The main problem there is that some people can have too much of an influence on others without data to support their stance and thus can skew the results.

Both concepts have their place in problem solving and when utilizing the ideas in the work space they can be successfully implemented.  Hence, the plethora of committees, councils, anonymous surveys, etc.  The key is to recognize when to use each theory and ensure it is appropriate to the situation.

Tapscott, D and Williams, A. (2007). “Innovation in the Age of Mass Collaboration.”

Business Week. Jenkins, H. (2006). “Collective Intelligence vs. The Wisdom of Crowds.”

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Social Media Marketing-Nicole Purviance

I watched the recording of Nicole Purviance’s session about social media marketing and found it fascinating and actually learned surprising new facts.  When she first presented that globally internet users average about 5.4 hours per month on social networking sites I actually found that rather low.  Perhaps it is because my current job is in the software industry and living in Silicon Valley almost every person I know spends a lot more time on social media sites.

The other happy surprise I had was one study showed that over the course of one month Pinterest actually had users spending the most time on its site only behind Facebook and tied with Tumblr.  For Facebook its users spent 405 minutes on the site with both Pinterest and Tumblr users spending 89 minutes on their sites.  No other social media came close with Twitter being next at 21 minutes.  I am a huge fan of Pinterest and spend hours on it a week which I suppose is not all that surprising considering Nicole pointed out the majority of social media users are female, between ages 18-34 and Hispanic.  So I fall into 2 out of 3 of those categories.

Nicole also mentioned The Fancy, which could be considered a competitor to Pinterest, but in addition to saying you “fancy” a post you can also click on it to be taken to targeted advertising and pricing of that particular item.  I don’t think I find that aspect all that appealing but it probably does serve its purpose.

In regards to how companies use social media they are using it all across the board in order to monitor customer satisfaction, advertising and one use that surprised me was to find potential employees.  Facebook has proven to be the preferred medium for companies to interact with their customers and Nicole points out that the best way to have a successful social media presence is to provide ways for your customers to interact with you and give them a reason to come back over and over.

I think more and more companies are taking advantage of this marketing tool as I find my local bookstores sending “invitations” to come to author signings, other companies offering giveaways for “liking” their page or offering up coupons to get a discount on their latest product.

I think use of social media by companies large and small will continue to rise.  More and more people will be coming online and there will be entire generations who do not know a life where they are not online.  I found it interesting when my parents were visiting that to find restaurant reviews, plumber recommendations, etc. they would turn to the yellow pages or the newspaper where as I would first head to Yelp to see what others had to say.

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Barriers to Internal Collaboration

In my experience collaboration across an organization is often a difficult proposition especially in these days where teams can be divided across buildings, cities or even as far as in different countries.

One barrier to collaboration is physical location.  In most cases it is easiest to work together when a group of people can get together in person to discuss the project, steps to take and how to track their progress.  There can be some scheduling conflicts in trying to get a larger number of people free at one time but for the most part in person collaborations has the least amount of practical barriers.

Once collaboration involves people in multiple locations such as in different states and time zones it can be more problematic.  Conference calls are possible but some cues are lost by not being able to see people’s expressions, possibly not having the clearest of connections and even being distracted by other things going on around you during the call.  Video conferencing helps in that you are able to see each others faces and this can help everyone focus on each other rather than on their environment.

Another barrier to collaboration is simply the personalities and work habits of those making up the group.  A few of the articles we read talk about whether or not “culture” is a barrier to adopting new technologies.  While I think culture can affect the adoption rate of new technologies it really comes down more to the individuals.  A company may push a chat forum or using a wiki to collaborate but if a person is not used to those technologies or simply doesn’t like using them it can make them less likely to participate which can harm collaboration.

I believe the most common barrier to collaborations can be getting through the “storming” phase where team members get to know each other, how they work and the best way to communicate.  Until a group works through this phase it can limit the productivity of the group.

I do not believe any of these barriers doom a team’s collaboration but the group needs to understand there can be obstacles to collaborating and it takes work to overcome them.

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Library Marketing Critique

Utilizing social media is not an easy feat and for libraries who are constantly under budget constraints and may be short on resources they need to plan on the best ways to reach their patrons.  For this marketing critique I focus on the Alameda County Library System.

The county library system does appear to be doing its best to utilize various types of social media with several branches having their own blogs, having a Twitter account (@aclib) and several branches also having a Facebook page.  One interesting aspect of the libraries approaches to social media is that there doesn’t appear to be any consolidated guidelines for each branch to follow.  Each branch appears to take their own approach to blogging and Facebook with some being more successful than others.  One of the problems with this approach is that it can be difficult for patrons to find all the resources the library system provides because the links are spread all over the web and with no unified interface it is hard to tell that they all fall under the umbrella of the Alameda County Library System.

Facebook

Until doing research about whether or not our library is on Facebook I never realized my local branch had a Facebook page.  There is no link to it from their home page which is poor design.  The only way to navigate to the Facebook page from the library’s website is to click on the banner at the top of the page and this takes you to the county library’s home page and from there you see a Facebook icon.  There are multiple problems with this approach.  I would think most people are going to be starting from their own library’s home page and not the centralized county page so having a Facebook icon there is key to advertising their Facebook page.  The second problem is there is no indication that the header will take you to the county library’s homepage.  I found this out by clicking around trying to figure out how to get to the main county page.

Once you find the county library page and click on the Facebook icon you are taken to a page that lists the libraries within the system that have Facebook pages.  This Facebook landing page is a nice resource as you can click through to each library’s page on Facebook.

Photo from the Alameda County Library’s Guides website

One possible oversite is that this page doesn’t list Facebook pages that are affiliated with the county libraries as a whole.  For example, as I was exploring the Teen section of the Union City branch’s homepage I saw an image for a Facebook page for Alameda County Library Teen Services but the link takes you to your own Facebook homepage.  So unless you do a Facebook search there is no direct link to this community.

After visiting each library’s Facebook page patrons are again faced with a wide variation in quality.   For instance, the Castro Valley branch is using the timeline interface and I couldn’t find any link to Events, Links, etc where as the Centerville branch’s page had clearly marked links to upcoming Events, Book News, ways to get involved with the library and more.  Centerville is one of the smaller branches but just based on the Facebook page I would be much more interested in visiting their branch and I can find any needed information all in one spot.

Blogs

The county library system has a surprising number of blogs related to the various branches but finding them all is not an easy task.  My local branch does have a large banner on its homepage that says “Read Our Blog” and they update it often enough with interesting information that I added it to my Google Reader to follow their updates.

Photo from the Union City Library homepage

What took longer to find was that there were also blogs that focused on children’s books, YA books, etc.   It took quite a bit of surfing and following links to stumble across a guides page that lists all of the county library blogs.  Even after finding this page it was hard to believe all these blogs were created by the same library system.  The appearances vary widely and it was impossible to find one unifying branding across the sites.  They all did have the county library logo but they were in different spots, the color schemes varied widely and the logos on some blogs were blurry as if they tried to enlarge the image without using the correct resolution.

Screen shot taken from Albany’s Library Blog

Screen shot taken from Castro Valley Library Blog

Screenshot taken from the San Lorenzo Library Blog

Screen shot taken from Union City Library Blog

The most glaring blog in need of a redesign is Teens Read blog. Initially I browsed away from the blog without reading it too closely because the banner states “Teen Summer Reading Program 2011”.

Screen shot taken from the Teens Read blog

It wasn’t until closer inspection that I saw that the blog was still being updated in 2012 and there were links to a large number of other teen resources available through the library.  It is sad if this resource was overlooked because of a misleading banner.

Twitter

The county system has one Twitter profile (@aclib) which came as quite a surprise to me when they replied to one of my tweets.  Again from my local branch’s website there is no Twitter icon indicating the library system even had a presence on Twitter.  It is nice that they do tweet about upcoming events but they do not tweet often enough to make them a user that people will check often for updates.  Their account can go days without a tweet which makes it hard to keep them in people’s eye sight.

Marketing Improvement Suggestions

If I were to be hired as a social media marketing consultant I would commend the library branches that have already entered the social media market but also suggest that there be a general guideline that each branch try to adhere to.  For example, don’t make patrons have to go on a hunt for relevant information.  Provide links to Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts from each branch’s home page.  Most patrons are going to be looking for information relevant to their own area and are not going to be going to the county wide library page.

For Facebook pages there should be a minimum information needed guidelines such as library location and a link to their events calendar.  Why should a patron have to go to a library’s Facebook page, click on their Information link, then follow that to the library website and then find the link to local events?

My last suggestion would be to engage with community at a greater level.  Providing the same information that can be found on the library website isn’t enough incentive to get patrons to visit the various Facebook pages, blogs, etc.  The librarians need to seek comments from visitors, respond to those comments and try to get a dialog going.  This engagement is the main focus of what social media is all about.  These outlets can be more than just posting library events.  The kids books blog is great at featuring a weekly post on Mondays that focus on reviewing a variety of children’s books.  This could be expanded to teen books, mysteries, etc.

The more engaged a library community is the more likely they are to fight to retain library resources and realize the library is a key component to the community.

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