Monday, July 18, 2011

When Google+ is open for organisations...

Are libraries geared to leap in?

So many lessons have been learned through experimentation with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc - are we ready to roll out our circles when the big one is opened for organisations?

David Lee King asked two questions in one: "Google Plus - Should you and your Library be there?" Separate feedback was received at his blog and his pluspost.

Whether "you" should be there is a personal and professional decision - a separate question.  Although, if your job at all involves for the library: marketing, community outreach, public relations, then I'm guessing it would make sense to be exploring Google+ right along with all of the other top social  media.  Even if your job is technology or reference services.

As to the Library: Well, the circle is not yet open. But when it is, will your library be ready? I must get back to study, so I'm going to jot down a few guesses about things I'd have to consider if it were my job; and then wait to see the advice roll in on the next question. David, *how* should your library be there (when Google+ lets it in)? Actually, I think the answers are in DLK's blog posts of the last few years, but I'll be interested to see whether any of the suggestions he has made over the years would be varied for Google+).
  • People - the library will need people who've been playing and working with social media for a while, and preferably have been playing with Google+ personally (to be able to implement the features productively and the relationships positively). 
  • Culture - Now, guessing from the word on the blogs, those people will need a library culture that supports experimentation with social media. This includes things like: 
    • mistake tolerance - being able to respond (not react) constructively and humanly when mistakes happen; 
    • playtime
    • transparency - being willing for procedures and disputes to be aired publicly.
  • Audience - DLK identified one of the mistakes libraries made in the early days, of "friending" other libraries and librarians rather than their target audience; and then he gave solutions - examples of the "friends" that the library needs. (He referred then to Facebook, but I'll bet the same applies to Google+)
  • Conversation - now this one is a big challenge.  There is a theme amongst many opinions (links later perhaps) that the important thing in social media is connections, and conversations, which takes time (although time might be inversely proportional to skill/talent) and therefore money.  The assumed promise is that open conversation increases familiarity, trust, positive feelings and attention, which is hoped to translate into word-of-mouth marketing.
    • There is sometimes a disdain for "Push" uses of social media technology. I can see the latter applying in Google+.  Will libraries post everything publicly and risk losing listeners for whom most of the push is not relevant, or selectively disseminate through circles and risk missing others who might like to hear but wouldn't.
  • Hangouts - focus groups? library-sponsored clubs? community outreach meetings? reference? I haven't tried a hangout yet.
  • Appearance - Sean Percival has shared an idea of how google+ business profiles *might* look, and features businesses might find useful. 
Amazing serendipity (and decision to catch up on Twitter before studying (thanks flexnib, sallyheroes)):
Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital librarianship @ social media: the digital library as conversation facilitator. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). doi:10.1045/july2011-schrier

Under five principles (listening, participation, transparency, policy, and strategy), Schrier gives "concrete strategies for successfully integrating social media into a digital library's overall strategic plan", including Google Alerts, social media searching, interaction advice.

The rest of my thoughts have faded away, could you add your thoughts? 

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