David Lee King, Nate Hill, and I presented a session on making user interactions rock.
David’s half of the session was a discussion of “meta-social.” How do you connect with your users? David has a list of 8 metasocial tools.
#1: status updates. Answer questions, ask questions, market the library’s events and services, share multi-media, All of this equals real connections to your customers. David’s library posted a user comment from their physical comment box about the art gallery, and the artist commented back, then a user…libraries connecting customers to the content creator.
#2: long posts. Blogs are examples of this, even Facebook notes, longer descriptions under a Flickr photo. It’s a way to share ideas in a longer format—events, thoughts, reviews, new materials. David’s library’s local history department posted a photo of a cupola from a building in the town that was demolished. They wrote about it in a blog post on their website, talking about the demolition and how they got the artifacts.
#3: comments. All of those status updates and longer posts don’t live in a vacuum. Comment back and have a conversation with users who are commenting to you. On one of the library’s children’s blogs, the author commented back on a post about his/her book.
#4: visuals. This can include photos and videos. Blip.tv, YouTube, and Vimeo are the usual suspects for video. Flickr and Picassa are most-used for photos. And this multi-media visual content can be embedded in many places. David showed a neat photo from the library’s “edible books” program. It’s a way to extend a physical event, getting more customer interaction and use online than you probably did in-person.
#5: livestreaming. This allows people to watch moments as they happen. David suggests livestreaming library events.
#6: friending and subscribing (aka following or liking). This lets users tell you they like you, but it also is a way for you to show that love back to your users.
#7: checking in. Yelp, Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla. You can do this at the library, having good tips for your library’s services.
#8: quick stuff. Rating, liking, favoriting, digging, poking, starring. These are very informal quick interactions that tell you how much people like or don’t like something you’re doing. You can embed Facebook liking into your website.
Suggestions for starting out with social media. The first tip is to stop. You need some goals and strategy. Otherwise you’ll do it for a few months and then give up, and your site will live on, inactive and not useful. What are you going to put out there, who is going to do the work, how do you want to respond to people interacting with you? Listen to see if people are talking about you and read what they’re saying – on Twitter, Google Alerts, Flickr tags, etc. You want friends! So let people friend you and friend them back. Focus on people living in your service area. Follow your customers first, not non-local figures like, say, other librarians. Think about your posts as conversation starters. Ask what your users think to encourage participation. Customers love social media, they’re already there, and they’re waiting for someone to start the conversation. That person is you.