I gave a webinar for PLA last week on digital branches – fun stuff! Here are my slides… if a recorded version appears, I’ll link to it here!
Once in awhile, some of you guys ask me questions via email. Usually, I just answer back in another email. This time, I thought I’d also answer via a blog post – you might find something useful here, too.
The question was about social media – how does your library do it, how is it used, who manages it, etc. Here are the questions and my answers:
1. Should social media responsibilities fall within the scope of public relations and marketing? Who in your library has the responsibility?
In Topeka, our Digital Services Director (that’s me) has oversight of social media. He acts as our library’s digital branch manager. That said, social media is a shared responsibility. Usually, a social media push starts in our Creative Group – a team made up of web, marketing, and public services staff. This team gets a feel for a new service, sets some preliminary goals, and sets up the service for the library. The next step for us is to create a pilot project team made up of public services staff (and the digital services director and possibly a marketing staff member too).
Then we expand as needed. For example, our Facebook team includes 12-15 staff members, mostly public services staff.
2. Is your website managed within your IT department?
Our IT department is part of our digital branch. IT is under the direction of the digital services director. Our web developer and web designer are both part of the IT department, and also part of the Creative Group. They do all the back end development of the site. Most of the content on our website is developed and maintained by other staff in the library (usually public services staff). The digital services director sometimes edits content, and meets with staff to help provide general suggestions and direction for library content. Marketing also helps with this.
3. How do you use social media and your website to engage with your communities?
We use social media to connect with our community by sharing library stuff and staff. “Stuff” includes our materials, events, and services. “Staff” means just what it sounds like – our staff involved in social media work to engage our community. For example, on our Facebook Page, our Facebook team focuses on these areas: readers advisory, current events and trends, and library materials, events, and services. In every post, our goal is to connect and engage with customers (in Facebook, the more engagement you get, the more eyes see your post), to point back to the library, to answer questions as they occur, and to share the library with our online community.
4. How much control of message and brand is important, in contrast with community engagement on the part of many staff throughout your library system?
I can’t say this strongly enough – in social media, you simply cannot control the message. Your customers do. Most modern marketing books, websites, blogs, etc. say that social media is all about engagement. It is probably 90% customer engagement and conversation, and only 10% marketing. If you flip that ratio to 100% marketing, your followers will simply tune you out.
Think about social media like this – who sits at your reference desk? Who runs your programs, classes, and events? The marketing department, or front-line public services staff? Does your marketing department control and edit the conversations taking place at the reference desk? I’m guessing not.
Social media is the same – it’s customer conversations and engagement, just like in your physical buildings. It’s just happening in your “digital building” – on your website and in your social media accounts.
photo by Mixy
Especially check out the final part of this presentation – it will give you a little insight into how my library decides on strategy – through data-mapping and GIS market segmentation data. Really handy stuff.
If you’re interested in building better websites, make sure to sign up for my upcoming webinar for ALA TechSource on June 8 – Building the Digital Branch: Designing Effective Library Websites. Just click the link to sign up!
This will be the second time I have given this webinar. If you attended the first one, never fret! There will be new content – I’m going to talk about how Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (where I work) built our current website (the redesign went live on March 1).
Here’s the blurb for the webinar:
Every library needs a presence on the web. Whether you work at a large academic library or a public library in a small town, you need to be able to deliver service and content to patrons outsideÂ your building. David Lee King will once again present this popular workshop, taking you through the process of building an effective, user-friendly library website that will expand and enhance your libraryâ€™s presence in the community.
In this workshop, youâ€™ll learn:
- How to successfully plan and implement a redesign of your website
- How to find out what patrons want from your website
- How to use your website to interact with patrons
- How to create strategic plans and goals for your website
So – who uses your website? Are they your “regulars” – those customers you see in the building every day? Or are they people you don’t normally see?
Ask that with no data behind it, and I’m sure you’ll get a variety of responses. But add in a bit of data, and it gets interesting.
For example, the above graphic is from my library’s Google analytics info – it’s showing the number of website visits we received in February. And it shows a normal arc of use – those dips you see are Friday – Sunday. Nothing looks out-of-the ordinary.
But guess what? We were closed one of those days because of snow. Can you guess which one from the graph? Probably not – it was the far left dot – Tuesday, February 1.
We had 1714 website visits that day. It was actually the website’s busiest Tuesday in February. On a snow day.
So what’s that mean? Hard to say, really – but here are some thoughts [update – just added/edited some points]:
- your website users and your in the building users are two different user groups.
- Customers inside our building aren’t our primary catalog users. Which makes sense – inside the building, customers can browse the shelves (on Feb 1, we had 793 visits to the catalog – 587 were referrals from our main website).
- Perhaps we need to actually promote our catalog and our website … inside our building???
- Said another way – Your primary website users are your online customers.
- How are you supporting those online customers?
One thing it does show – there are no snow days for the digital branch. Your customers are visiting you, and using your primary services … whether you are open or closed.
How are you reaching out to, and supporting, those customers?