David Lee King is a Librarian and Author.  He is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.  He speaks on emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media.  His second book, Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections, has just been published by Information Today.  Juanita interviewed David today for the Ontario Library Association’s Education Institute.

Q:  Libraries have always been face to face organizations.  What tips do you have for Libraries to transform into F2F organizations on the web?

Just do what you always have done.  Libraries are really good at F2F – just get up from the info desk more often – but we are built to interact with our public.  Do the same thing online!  We’ve done a little bit with virtual ref – other “traditional” virtual services like that have been around for 10 – 15 years.  We can do the same thing online – with social media, you really do need to be proactive – get out with leading questions into your patrons’ space.  Jump start that conversation. 

Q:  How can libraries make more community connections using Twitter?

Twitter is really simple and really difficult at the same time.  What will you say in 140 characters?  Just sign up and start holding conversations!  Within an organization, you might have to come up with a few goals:   who do you want to friend?; who are my customers?; who do I want to reach?  And then actively go after that group.  For example, the young professionals / broadcast media / marketing professionals / and more.   We answer questions on Twitter – but we also use it as a marketing tool and interact with patrons in a new way.  Plus doing some fun stuff!

Q:   What about Facebook – how can libraries make more connections using Facebook?

Unlike Twitter, Facebook has 54% of the (US) population 13+ on Facebook.  So, this is a good percentage of the population who can be reached – potentially – for free – using Facebook.  Most libraries need at FB presence right now because it represents more than half of your community.  Set some goals.  Look at statistics to see your traffic on gender and age range of people “visiting” your profile.  This provides me with intelligence on my community!  We post readers advisory, sharing new books, staff picks, current events.  You can schedule posts so they can be released in a timely fashion.  The 8 – 10 PM time frame seems hot. 

Q:  Tell us more about the importance of listening and some tools you would recommend to use?

Listening:  setting up alerts for mentions of the library itself / advanced search using Twitter on a geographic area about libraries in general / set up an alert on a hot topic in your community.  Use Twitter, Google, any source for news on the web.  Facebook is less useful for “listening”.  But you can refer to my book!  Like HootSuite, etc.  Use an RSS feed to monitor your listening.

Q:  What about responding after you’ve listened … especially how to respond to critics?

You CAN just respond.  Hearing negative comments can be a good thing – you are getting actual feedback – which means people care enough to say something.  You can’t hear things people want you to improve if you have not set up the listening tools to be part of that conversation.  You may need to correct bad information.  Keep in mind that a negative post gives you the time to think of your response. 

Q:  When we’re designing web experiences, how can we make them human-centred and engaging – what are your best tips?

Two things you can do:  1) Use human words – rather than marketing words or professional words – go ask your customers what they call it (it may be a phrase rather than a word); use conversational language – not formal presentation language / informal language = type like you talk.  2) Be more visual – put up photos of staff = connect with your community visually.  Use photos, use video – to not only talk about it but show it.

Q:  How can we measure our success with social media?  What do you think Libraries should get out of their Facebook pages – what’s the ROI? 

We measure success / ROI in a few different ways:  we have run a Facebook ad to people in our community with a friend who has already friended the Library – and have jumped from 4000 Friends to 7500 Friends = our community is more connected to us.  We also measure in terms of “virality” – on Facebook, you can get analytics on each of your individual posts eg. People Talking About This.  Virality is another tool to see your more popular posts to see your top posts to see what people like.  The most important is to set some goals and put strategies in place to see if you are realizing your goals. 

Q:  In terms of content, what really engages an audience on the web?

For Facebook = talking about books.   We do a lot of fun posts on books:  what’s on your nightstand?  Our patrons like talking about books – no surprise!  On other media channels, ask your audience what they want to hear about.

Q:  If there’s only one thing your audience gets from your book, what do you hope it is?

People in organizations should start thinking about the web in a more face to face, conversational way.