Twitter on TechSoup

Tech Soup is having a free Twitter Webinar Thursday (3/16/10).  This Webinar will help you learn how to use Twitter and how it fits into providing library services.

From the TechSoup Blog:
Twitter has claimed its place on the short list of communications tools for nonprofits and libraries to consider when designing online strategies. This webinar will survey the Twitter landscape, explaining core concepts, enumerating best practices, and describing the tools and tactics that exist to leverage Twitter's strengths.
Sign up here! 

I think I might miss this one but will have to catch the archived version once it goes up.  If you are able to get into this one, tell me about it in the comments.


Link to Interview with Digital Branch Librarian, David Lee King

Catching up with David Lee King , ALA Tech Source, Daniel A. Freeman (03/05/2010).

"David Lee King certainly doesn't need anyone to give him a voice--whether on his blog, through presentations or in publications, when David talks about libraries and technology, people listen. We received tons of positive feedback on David's August 2009 issue of Library Technology Reports, Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines for Transforming Your Library Website and accompanying webinar."
You'll want to read the entire post and follow David Lee King's blog.


Social Networks: Emerging Technology or Common Place?

Follow the Meat Dept on Twitter!

as seen on David Lee King's blog post "Follow the Meat Department on Twitter!"

life today. (if anything else come along, they'll need to get a bigger sign.)
Taken in San Francisco by Flickr user Heather

Now I Hate Everything
Taken by Flickr user Kevin McShane

Where do you see Twitter and Facebook?

Next Post: Link to Interview with Digital Branch Librarian, David Lee King

Resource: A Teacher's Guide to Using Facebook

A Teacher's Guide to Using Facebook  by Bernadette Rego (22 pages). This may be useful to school and academic librarians as well. Covers profile and filtering options, facebook applications, facebook groups, the implications of access to student information, professional boundaries, and dealing with colleagues.

Next Post: Social Networks: Emerging Technology or Common Place?


Saving Time: Twitterfeed.com

Unlike Facebook and blogging I hadn't used Twitter for personal reasons before creating a library and professional account. The first part of Twitter for me was learning how it worked, what people were posting, and adjusting to the challenge of saying what you need/want to say in 140 characters or less.  Now that I have had some experience with Twitter, the next part is figuring out the best way to automate some of the processes.

What do I want the library to automatically post on Twitter?
New books/materials  as they are available to check out.
New images on Flickr as they are added to the collection.
New digital objects as they are added to the Montana Memory Project.
New blog posts at the library website.
New events on the library calendar.

What other information would be good for libraries to auto-post?

How can this be done?
There are a number of auto-tweeting options out there.  I decided to try twitterfeed.com (feed your blog to twitter) first.

What auto-post applications do you use?

Works with facebook, twitter and other programs.
Shows you how many clicks you have gotten per tweet and from either facebook or twitter.
You can customize your tweet adding a prefix or suffix.
You can decide how many tweets how frequently.
You can even selectively tweet from RSS feeds using search terms.

Does not seem to work with as wide a variety of RSS Feeds as I might like.  I don't know if it will work with forced feeds.
I'm at the time of this posting still experimenting with twitterfeed.com and want to compare it to other auto-posting applications. 
Next Post: Tool: Flickr

Tool: Flickr

Flickr is, according to Flickr, "almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world." Their two main goals are "to help people make their content available to the people who matter to them" and "to enable new ways of organizing photos and video." 
Flickr is about access and organization of content.  Libraries are too. Of all of the social networks that the Butte-Silver Bow Public Library is using to connect with the community, Flickr is the most active. In February 2010 we had more than 10 times the number of user interactions on Flickr than we did on Facebook and Twitter combined.  Maybe I should say instead, that Flickr users are more active than Facebook and Twitter users. 

Some of our more popular bits: Click on image to go to Flickr and see comments.
Hennessy Mercantile Company, Crockery Department in Basement Bazaar, Butte, Montana. (1900)
High Ore, Butte, Montana. (1900)
"Two-Decker," Butte, Montana. (1900)

Twitter Hiccups

Twitter Fail Whale is back
Rob Friedman / playerx / @px

Twitter isn't perfect and suffers from growing pains, overload, and spam, sometimes of the most unsavory sort.

Next Post: Saving Time: Twitterfeed.com 

Tool: Twitter

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows users to receive and send messages in 140 characters or less, called a tweet. "We came across the word 'twitter,' and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds.' And that’s exactly what the product was." - Jack Dorsey, Chairman.

Wear your Twitter badge with pride
So are the tweets us tweeters tweet inconsequential? Are they reaching the people we intend on reaching?  Is there room for libraries in the tweeting world? Do we want to be there?

Twitter is different than facebook in that you can't expect people who follow you to read as many tweets as they would facebook updates.  When you sign into twitter you are able to scroll through some of the most recent tweets by the accounts that you follow.  On Twitter the information you post and the information posted by others is in a state of motion.

A great way to see who is on Twitter in your area is to do a search  or two on Twitter for your area and then subscribe to that feed in your RSS feed reader.  Then you can see what companies, people, things are being talked about.  If work at a library in Helena and no one is talking about Helena, MT (I'm sure this isn't true) on twitter then you might want to consider holding back on devoting resources to twitter or do the opposite and start filling that gap with relevant library information.

To get started go to www.twitter.com and create a new account.  You will need to attach the twitter account to an email address. We use the same email address for all our social networking activities at Butte-Silver Bow Public Library, designated just for these accounts and not tied to any particular staff's email account or the official library's email account.  This allows all of the social networks to be managed from the same email address.

Butte-Silver Bow Public Library - http://twitter.com/ButtePubLibrary
Missoula Public Library - http://twitter.com/missoulalibrary
Parmly Billings Library - http://twitter.com/ParmlyBillings

You can see a more complete list of Montana libraries that are tweeting in the "Montana Libraries Going Social" link.


Next Post: Twitter Hiccups

Tool: Facebook Fan Page

  • What:
Facebook is a social networking site used world wide, privately owned and operated, created by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm.  The Facebook Fan Page is a space "for organizations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information to fans in an official, public manner. Like profiles, they can be enhanced with applications that help the entity communicate with and engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans' recommendations to their friends," (Facebook Help Center).

  • Why:
How much are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Worth? Facebook has been valued at $11.5 billion with Zynga,  the company that hosts games like Farmville and Mafia Wars  valued an additional $2.6 billion. Twitter comes in at $1.4 billion. Time and attention = advertising $$$.

A different kind of valuation: Facebook is, "worth the value it brings in connecting people to each other, exposing the limitations of old media and allows for something of a true information society to flourish." - Lawrence Johnson, facebook user.
*Libraries can use Facebook as a tool to connect our communities and serve up vetted and accurate information to our patrons. 
There were 103 million US based users in 2009 with the largest growth being in the 55+ age range. The largest portion of users are 35 -54 years old. You can use Insights on your fan page to see the age/gender/ geographical makeup of your library's facebook fans.

The Butte-Silver Bow Public Library uses Facebook to share both physical and digital collections, market programming, build community support, and connect with patrons.

  • How:
Facebook Fan Pages are connected to individual facebook profiles. Start here (Facebook: Create a Page) to create a page for your library, business, or organization. A Facebook fan page is connected to one person (individual profile)as the creator of the page, but many users can be designated as administrators for the fan page. Setting up a facebook fan page is relatively straight forward.  It is all of the bells and whistles, automation and management that might make it complicated.

Here are some links on how to create your own facebook fan page:
"Humanizing  Your Facebook Pages," David Lee King, 02/09/2010.
 "How To: Set Up a Winning Facebook Fan Page," Mashable, 09/22/2009.
"Facebook Pages Basics - A Screencast," David Lee King, 07/08/2009.
 "Setting Up Your Facebook Page," Tech for Luddites, Elizabeth Kricfalusi, 07/07/2009.

Tip - Creating a vanity url - Increase your pointability! First, you must have 25 fans! You can create a user name based url for your own profile and your fan page by going to (http://www.facebook.com/username/). Be careful when choosing a user name and spell it right.  User names cannot be changed, you would  have to delete your fan page and start over to create a different user name based url. The Butte-Silver Bow Public Library vanity url is http://www.facebook.com/buttepubliclibrary. Now you can use your vanity url  in emails, marketing, signs, business cards, etc.
Tip - Linking Facebook posts to Twitter - Automate, Automate, Automate... Automatically tweet your facebook posts.  Go to http://www.facebook.com/twitter/ to link your fan page to your twitter account.  Everything you post on your facebook fan page will then be tweeted automatically.  No double posting!  Interested in further automation on facebook and twitter, learn about twitterfeed.com, my favorite social tool right now.

Con - Notifications and Moderation: Facebook will not provide notifications (by email or on facebook) of activity on your fan page.  If a fan asks a question, posts a picture, likes an update;  you won't know unless you go to the fan page and see it there.   There is also no moderation feature, comments go live immediately, though you can always delete a comment if you ever had to.

Con - Communication: Private messages cannot currently be between a fan and the organization.  If you send a fan a private message it will come from you not the organization. 
  • Who: 
Butte-Silver Bow Public Library  (http://www.facebook.com/buttepubliclibrary) Want your own vanity url? See the tip above to learn how.
Montana Office of Public Instruction, Superintendent Denise Juneau The OPI has over 600 fans in less than a month of being on Facebook (03/02/2010).
Montana State University Libraries The MSU Libraries have incorporated Flickr and Worldcat into their page. 
 Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library The Topeka Library has created facebook aps that allow you to chat with a librarian and search the catalog right from facebook. You might also note the "Donate" tab where a donation to the library is just a click away. 
BCR  Their vanity url is cute: (http://www.facebook.com/bcrluvslibs). 
Do you want endless examples of library facebook fan pages?  There's a facebook group for that: Libraries Using Facebook Pages

Next Post: Tool: Twitter

Tool: The Blog

  • What:
 A blog (contraction of the term web log) is a type of website maintained by an individual or organization with regular entries of content (events, commentary, links, resources) usually shown in reverse chronological order. The ability of readers to interact by leaving comments is an important part of most blogs. A blog can be used as a primary website, be embedded within a larger website, or act as an add-on to an library's web presence.
  • Why:
Blogs can act as a space to humanize the library's web presence.  They can be a code-free way to refresh content and post up-to-date information. Provide an informal space for public to interact with eachother and with the library.   
Tip - Blogs have RSS feeds that you can easily use to push the content out to other social networking tools. This process can be automated. 
Tip - Search engines index the web, including your blog.  You can feature resources you want found with posts and tags and make it easier for your patrons to find library resources even when searching from the Google search bar.  You can push information out where your patrons are and bring  them back to your website and catalog from your blog.  
  • How:
 Choosing Blog Software: There are many different options for what blogging software you choose to use. I've worked with Wordpress, Blogger, and have been learning Drupal (a full CMS).  I'd recommend Blogger for those concerned more with content rather than style, those just wanting to get started, or those with little to no web experience. Wordpress might be best for those with some web experience and wanting more flexibility.  Drupal would be best for those with solid web skills and wanting to fully integrate the social nature of the web into their website. A wiki could also work for some blogs, especially those with many contributors and focused on discussion and collaboration.  I've used PBworks successfully.  Also take into consideration creating your blog in the "cloud" or hosting it on your library's server. 
Other people have weighed in on the blogging options:

"Blogging 101: Which Blogging Software Do I Choose? " CMS Wire, Eric Brown (07/09/2008)
"Blogging Options for Educators" Support Blogging.com (active Wiki in support of educational blogging)
Use your blog to... Promote a special event at the library. Highlight an underused resource.  Introduce a new staff member. Tell the library's story. Review a new book. Display local history. Explain a new library policy. Request feedback from your patrons. Market the library's value. Push the face of the library into the blogosphere. 

Get 360 support from staff: Define how blog fits with mission and goals of the library. Ask different staff members to contribute different content.  Tell the entire staff about blog and have them promote it to the public.

  • Who:
Blog as website: Butte-Silver Bow Public Library (Wordpress) Comments are not permitted but links to Facebook and Flickr in the sidebar give space for community interaction.

Blog embedded within website: Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (Drupal) Within the homepage a number of blog like posts are featured. See the scrolling content: Featured, Books, Guides, Movies/Music, Gallery, Kids, and Teens.  Each post shows the librarian blogger, allows comments, has tags and RSS feed.

Blog in addition to website: The Missoula Public Library while having a relatively static website (I've heard rumors of a digital branch in the works) has links in the sidebar for Facebook, Twitter, and their blog.  The blog is simply called Blog: Missoula Public Library (Blogger). Here is a post promoting an email reference service and the anonymous comment that followed.   

Next Post: Tool: Facebook Fan Page