Category Archives: Other social media

The end

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This will, most likely, be my final post. I can’t say I’m a convert, to blogs or to Twitter. I can say that I had more fun writing this than I thought I would, that I’m almost entirely unafraid of social media in a professional setting, and that I’ve developed a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

The first step, I think, in building a social media presence for an organization is choosing the right platform. A mantra from Library 500 was, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” It may all be easy to set up, but that doesn’t mean that hopping on board will do anything for your organization or your patrons.

For example, I spent some time exploring the website of the Medical Library Association. I didn’t do a separate post because it’s not a library but a professional association for librarians, and also because, as of yet, they’re not using Twitter. Instead, they have a Youtube channel, full of dork-tastic videos that I, as an aspiring medical librarian, didn’t find very useful. (Although some of the lines were pretty great: “Librarians are good people people”; “I love what I do, and I love it because, every day, I learn at least twelve new things.”*) Here again, I could see blogs being better, or at least some form of social media that has a lot of written content and is more serious, more informative, and at least a little easier to stomach.

If you choose to use Twitter, remember that every tweet matters. Think seriously about its purpose before you send it off (grab attention? draw new patrons? announce an unforeseen closure?). Think about the extent to which you want your Twitter feed to focus on and reflect your organization. If you are like The Huntington, and your blog is doing most of that work, then you may want to simply let Twitter be Twitter, and use it to talk to your patrons. Or you may be like the World Digital Library and use an “#onthisday” feature to highlight aspects of and items in your collection.

Old clock

Someday, I will build a library of clocks.

To the extent you’re able, use un-acronymed, natural language. I’ve gone back and forth on this but, in the end, I think it’s best to avoid jargon and any but the most obvious abbreviations. The 140-character limit does invite fun new language — but I think we should see it as an invitation to practice what may be the dying art of concision, not to madly follow the new fad of MEIA (Making Everything Into an Acronym).

I think if you’re an expert in communication, it’s not really necessary to be an expert in the ins and outs of Twitter. I’m starting to believe that hashtags can do a whole lot of good, but they seem to follow naturally form other things that librarians do, like build and use controlled vocabularies. Other Twitter features, like FF (which means Something-Friday… First-Friday? Fast-Friday? Fun-Friday?) may expand your SC (Street Cred! In my mind, it will be Street Cred) among Twitter denizens, but you can make use of the program by sticking to the basics.

And finally, make your Twitter feed available through at least one other channel, whether a box (I guess it’s a widget?) on your website, an email newsletter, or some other resource that you have at your disposal (and that your patrons are already using). Try to make your social media information available to anyone who gets online (which should, increasingly, mean anyone who has access to a library — which should mean anyone), and not only to anyone willing to set up an account with The Next Big Social Media Thing. Libraries and librarians are trendsetters (for real — uncool is definitely the new cool), but that doesn’t mean we have to get on board everything that comes along.

Oh! Post-finally, consider the wider organization when you set up new social media — by which I mean the people who work for it. You may set up an account, and you may be willing and able to keep it active and exciting, and you may not be with that organization in a year. Your profile may then go fallow, leaving any patrons who used it in a lurch. Choose something that truly is easy to use and use well, that suits your library, and that can be maintained for the foreseeable future, regardless of staff, software, etc. changes.

Managing social media is one more thing that librarians will need to keep track of in the coming years. I think this is fine; if most librarians are anything like me, they like to be very busy. Except, of course, for that hour every day that they spend on the couch, TV on, dog curled up, brain on cruise control.

And maybe this is just me trying to rationalize the amount of TV I watch, but I do think this neutral time is pretty healthy behavior. I want to close by directing you to a recent blog post I read, You’re Not As Busy As You Think. I think it provides some excellent words of caution for any and all professionals and especially for those of us whose bread and butter is information. Here in the twenty-first century, there is a lot to post and a lot of places to post it. But we don’t need to post something to the Internet the second it happens. Organizationally and individually, we need to remember that we still matter, even if we’re not constantly plugged in.

Clock

*This was said without any discernible irony; apparently the speaker does, in fact, keep a running total.

Check out more cool old clocks, and other things, at H is for Home’s flickr set and frenchfinds.co.uk’s flickr set.

More Huntington!

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I said I would be focusing on Twitter, but I lied. I had to poke around at more of The Huntington‘s social media because I wondered if they used it to present more, um, collection-y aspects than they have on Twitter. If you look at the website, you’ll notice that you can access Twitter, Facebook, etc. from a couple of points: little icons off to the right, and a drop down menu called “Interact” at the top.

The website itself is fine, though still a little busy for my money. Here’s my revolutionary idea for it: send the huntington.org address straight to the blogs! The Huntington runs the gamut of social media — Twitter, Facebook, Flickr podcasts, and vodcasts. The blogs, however, seem to already be streamlining much of this content into one place. Also, they are cool. They give me the tastes of the collection that I crave, as well as things I never expected, like this video of Sam Maloof. Check it out — it will make  you cringe because you’ll think he’s going to slice through his fingers but, don’t worry, he doesn’t.

There is a lot going on at The Huntington. Even the podcasts, which I haven’t listened to yet but am pretty excited about, are arranged into several categories: you can subscribe to podcasts about astronomy and World War II. You can download audio tours of gardens and exhibitions.

There’s a lot happening, a lot to talk about, and a lot of justification for using a lot of social media. But I wonder what might happen if it were all accessible

through the blog. Because, as I said, much of it already is — the Flickr images, the youtube videos, the Twitter feed, nestled nicely at the right of the screen. Would you lose viewers by not having the same icons, the same level of access, to all the social media content? I don’t know, but it’s something to consider. In any case, The Huntington’s blogs seem to offer more than any of the other options (more content and more easy cross-referencing to the others), and you don’t have to join or download anything to use them. If nothing else, it seems like they should be highlighted in some way. As a user, I would probably just avoid the “Interact” menu. I would write it off as a bunch of programs I didn’t want to join, things I didn’t want to deal with. But the blogs offer easy public access and simple navigation. Very nice.

Henry Huntington

Oh Henry, I bet you would've loved the Internet.

The image above is in the public domain, but check out this report if you’re interest in the history of LA.

Organizational profile: the Canadian Music Centre

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I volunteer for the library at the Canadian Music Centre of Vancouver. I was excited to see that the national Centre is merrily tweeting away — this made me feel, I don’t know, a sense of familiarity, or something along those lines. It makes me wonder how people end up on Twitter normally; I always sort of assumed that there are people who join Twitter because they like Twitter, and then there are people like me, who don’t. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Most people probably arrive there by following somebody they know. And some, perhaps, get there through an organization that they like. Maybe this isn’t terribly significant, but for me it’s something to consider… your library might be leading innocent patrons into Twitter. Are there any implications to that?

Enough rambling! For now. Let’s begin by taking a look at the website of the Canadian Music Centre. I’m not in love with it, to be honest. It seems very cluttered* and a little sad, hunching over there at the left side of the screen. Now that I am an expert web designer (thanks Susie!) I would want to streamline the bejeesus out of this. I mean, navigation isn’t terribly difficult, but it would be smoother, I think, to nest “Find a Composer” under “Find Music”, and I’m struggling to figure out why there needs to be a CMC Boutique and a big block for Centrestreams… again, why not have a simple “Listen to Music” menu, with options for streaming online and buying? Basically, I think there’s a lot to be done. And I think the website is designed for people who already know a lot about the organization, who have a near-intuitive sense of the difference between Centrestreams and Centrediscs, who know what an associate is.

The website, and the Twitter feeds, sort of make me feel like I’m spying on a club that I don’t belong to. This may sound whiny, but I really do mean it more as a statement than a criticism. If you’re a music library, do you want to tailor your online presence to musicians? Or do you want to try to invite neophytes in? I have to think there’s a middle ground, a strategy that’s just a bit more neutral and welcoming to whoever might wander in off the Internet.

It’s harder to make these value judgments about Twitter. There is a sense of both Musicians’ Club and Twitter Club and even a hint of Canada Club, best expressed by the rampant acronyms: FF, LRT, SNBTo, MT, TO.

I mean, it’s the Twitter feed of the Canadian Music Centre. Using the lingo of music and Canada and Twitter certainly makes sense. But I do wonder if, as an organization, it’s better to put some of your 140 characters to the service of utter clarity. Not to pander to newbies while annoying those who know what’s up, but just to hedge your bets. I love the Canadian Music Centre, but it hasn’t given me that elusive reason to stick around Twitter post-assignment. There is just too much that I don’t understand and too much that doesn’t seem relevant to me, as a USAmerican living in Vancouver who likes music a lot but has no expertise. Some of the Twitter guides I’ve read recently suggest setting up a few feeds for your organization to deal with different areas, and some of the places I follow seem to be doing that. But it strikes me as messy and not terribly user-friendly. So I can’t say that I have a solution to the overall clubbiness of the Centre’s web presence, beyond just not getting carried away in the excitement of rapid-fire messages about something you love. Consider your lurkers!

*The social media links are displayed fairly prominently, about 1/4 of the way down the page. But I missed them when I was exploring the last couple of days; I was, in fact, all set to grouse about how the website didn’t link to the Twitter feed at all. Again, just too much stuff, too many horizontal blocks of different messages, too easy to pass over.

Screech and Pick

Pickle, my dog, and Screechy, my violin. I take lessons now, but any future I had in music was crushed when I was ten and my sister told me I sang like a dying toad.