Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Working in a "Web 2 Landscape" (includes pretty pictures)

Yesterday we hit 3000 likes on our library Facebook page, and it made me a little reflective, remembering the days when I used to get excited about us having a couple of hundred. Especially as I've had several enquiries from other libraries in recent weeks about how we are managing our central social networking accounts. I'm not sure what has created the renewed interest in Library Land, but in the last few weeks it certainly seems revived.

In talking to other libraries one thing still seems to be the key difference between here, and many other institutions: We don't have many restrictions on what we can do. I have just spoken to someone who said it sounds like we have a "cultural web 2 landscape" at Warwick, that we can work within, which allows us to develop easily. So I wondered. . .

What does that landscape look like across the whole of the library?

What follows are my responses to the things I seem to be getting asked about  (alongside some rather beautiful - and free! pictures of web landscapes I found through

I think these are the 5 main features shaping this "landscape": 
  1. The whole thing started because in 2007 senior managers gave us the green light to explore and experiment with web 2, they did not wait for us to ask them for permission, they did not ask for paperwork or project reports.
  2. The library has no strict policy on what we can post or respond to - we just use common sense guidelines
  3. Staff use social networking and web 2 tools in many different ways across library services, so we can join up and make these tools work together. 
    • For example several of our subject specialist librarians blog, so we can feed their blogs through Yahoo Pipes straight into FB and Twitter so expanding the reach of the blogs and auto-generating FB and Twitter content at the same time.  
  4. Decisions are made quickly and not over analysed by senior managers
    • e.g. when I asked my manager - "Can we claim our 4Square place because our students are already there and currently we have no real way of monitoring it or engaging with them?". I was told "Yes" within just a few mins
  5. The library is proactive in encouraging staff to learn more and get involved. E.g. 23 Things ran last year for staff (thanks to Emma Cragg). 

Where does my team fit in to this landscape?
My team (Enquiries Support) look after the central accounts, and we have our own team guidelines for that, based on the way we want our particular services to run. There is a lot of other activity going on outside of that. For example the Wolfson Research Exchange maintain blogs and have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to target their specific research audience. 

While Enquiries Support collaborate with other library services who are active in these ways, retweeting some of their content, posting about their events, etc. we manage the accounts in the way that best suits this team, and our core service purposes (general, centralised, enquiry support).

Because we monitor all 3 accounts together (Facebook, Twitter and 4Square) I can generalise, to a point, about how we manage them. . .

Here are the 5 (OK - 6) main points:
  1. 3 Library Advisers monitor FB, Twitter and 4Square on a rota basis alongside the central library enquiries email account (which they would be monitoring anyway so no additional staff time is required). 
  2. Service hours are currently 10am - 6pm Mon - Friday
  3. Library Advisers send referrals to specialist staff via email and specialists send responses back via email, which we then send to the enquirer via whichever service they originally used to ask the question (for Twitter we sometimes have to edit to fit in to the character allowance)
  4. We have some basic guidelines in place for staff - such as who we follow, who to block, checking spelling and links before posting etc. - mostly it's just common sense. 
  5. If you are managing a team who look after these kinds of accounts I'd recommend you make some time to set up and actively use a personal account yourself because . . .
    • Interfaces change. A lot. 
    • There are things you need to be aware of, which you may not come across unless you actively use the services yourself. (e.g. I had to explain to my team about #ff last week because it showed up in our Twitter feed and none of them knew what it was - imagine their imaginings!)
  6. Training is important - even if the team are already familiar with using the services. There are key differences between how you post in your personal life and how you post when representing an organisation. Even with training - mistakes can happen - watch out for them and be prepared to handle them, but don't be scared of them.
The current stats and 4 key practicalities for each service are as follows: 

Stats as of yesterday - Followers: 1382. Following: 76. 
  1. We follow accounts we think we might retweet (ie. accounts that might be useful to our target audience (Warwick Library customers) and compliment the kind of information we want our accounts to offer). 
    • This includes: other university services and departments, plus a few key external organisations such as COPAC, and the BL. 
    • It excludes: other libraries, individual students and staff of the university and commercial organisations. 
  2. It is useful to be aware of which other university services and departments are on Twitter, this enables reciprocal retweeting so reaching a bigger audience - but many of whom are likely to find your service relevant.
  3. If a student posts a query which requires a private response we temporarily follow them and respond via direct message, or we ask them to email us at the central inbox - as seems appropriate. 
  4. Twitter generates more interaction and actual enquiries than Facebook, despite having a much smaller apparent audience. 
Stats as of  yesterday  - Likes: 3000 
  1. 1. We "like" a few pages within the university, but only really those related to us quite strongly
  2. 2. Before the start of each new academic year we try to contact the owners of the freshers pages created by the SU and ask if they are happy to flag up our page to their fans. They are very helpful and supportive of us being in FB.
  3. 3. We put less content on FB than on Twitter, because too much content makes people turn off our feed (Twitter will take a lot more than FB - possibly because the feed moves faster, and stays chronological, so people don't notice individual services so much??)
  4. Be aware of the FB terms and conditions - consider what you are asking your staff to sign up to and consider giving them a choice about their level of involvement
Stats as of  yesterday  - People: 282 Check Ins: 2165
  1. We are there because our students put us there so we decided to step in and take  an interest (it would be rude not to - surely?)
  2. It does not generate enquiries as such - but it allows us to monitor comments and spot a few nice photos people have taken of the library.  (Alongside the ones of sandwiches - which seem to be a popular photographic subject at the moment)
  3. We are not currently offering any kind of rewards for check-ins or to Mayors
  4. It may have potential for development later, but is not currently a priority - see my earlier blog post

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