Looking back on your social media use of your library or organization is important. Whether your blogging or using tools like Facebook and Twitter we need to be scientists. We need to conduct experiments. Social media is great for this because you get rapid, measurable feedback. You can see what sorts of posts get shared, liked, retweeted, or commented on. Once you understand what people are responding to you can then try to replicate it, thus improving your posts. Below are three types of posts that get responses from our library’s social media following:
Questions – Want a response? Ask a question. It’s one of the most natural exchanges in conversation. People are much more willing to reply to a question than to a statement. If you can phrase your informational post as a question or add a question to it you have a better chance of a response. Example: “Who loves chili? Chili cookoff today at 2:00pm in the library.”
Fun – Posts that are lighthearted and fun often get responses, at least from our students. You don’t have to only post about library news or events and not everything has to be informational. Social media is about being social so you need a balance of business and pleasure. Here’s an example of having fun with the Kanye meme that swept the web.
Talking about others – Only talking about yourself is boring in real life. The same is true in the virtual world. Blogger Chris Brogan is an evangelist for talking about others and I find that he’s right. When I retweet people’s content from our library account it gets shared again. When I post on the library Facebook about a student group organizing a Quidditch team the organizers appreciate it. Talk about others and you’ll be rewarded.
These types of posts got the most responses at our library. It may not be exactly the same for yours. Remember to experiment. Try some unorthodox posts sometimes. Try different posts and see what works and what doesn’t, but make sure you learn from your mistakes.
What sorts of social media posts have been working for your library?
My last post was about how students often have very little time. But thinking about the way we consume information in general these days got me thinking more about my personal experiences. I often catch myself with a dozen tabs in Firefox open, Tweetdeck running in the background, Outlook pinging me every few minutes with a new email, and my Blackberry constantly vying for attention. I do find about all sorts of interesting things (like the Leonid meteor shower which I took time to watch this morning), but what is getting one bit of information after another really doing for me?
Students consume information in much the same way, getting updates from Facebook or Twitter, reading stories or blog posts but not digging much deeper. Nicholas Carr compared it to flying along the surface on a jet ski as opposed to a scuba diver exploring what is beneath the surface.
It seems to me that there is much to be gained from slowing down in our information consumption. When we just skip from blog post to blog post, tweet to tweet, we get information, but it never becomes knowledge and we don’t use that information. That’s one reason why I blog, so I can synthesize different thoughts and make a personal connection. Thinking about something and then writing about it makes it more concrete. That’s also why I find it necessary to take time out when I’m feeling overwhelmed and simply drink some tea, or write ideas down in a notebook, or watch a meteor shower.
Slowing down allows you to make connections between those eight articles you just read in your feed reader. It allows you to internalize pieces of information that you otherwise might simply forget or not really understand. That’s why in our information literacy program at Champlain we devote part of one session to talking about slowing down and reflecting. We ask students how or if they slow down to make connections. I feel it is something that is extremely important to discuss when talking about information.
Students are actually pretty thoughtful about it too. I learned about this enlightening TED talk called In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore from a student in one of my sessions. It’s about 20 minutes long. Give it a watch…if you have the time…
Last week I finished teaching a batch of information literacy classes. I was also able to read some papers that students wrote in relation to my session and their reading of the article Is Google Making Us Stupid? From reading these papers and conversations with students in class, I got great insight into how these freshman use and think about information.
One of the themes that kept coming up was that of time. In this day and age students and people in general have so little time on their hands. There are multiple classes, clubs, sports, children, work, etc. They are also under a lot of pressure from parents or themselves. The reason students use Google for research is not necessarily because it has the best information (they even said it doesn’t always), but because it is the fastest. They’re under pressure and only have so much time.
How then do we get students to use our awesome library resources? If we can let students know that the library can save them time, more students would use us. Instead of spending time wading through a lot of irrelevant garbage on Google a librarian can quickly get to highly relevant (and scholarly) information whether it is in books, articles, or on the web. Save time, ask a librarian!