Monday, October 13, 2008

Social Media and Service Delivery Part 1

Last month, I was very excited to be invited to serve on a panel for the YWCA Regional Conference in OKC. I was a bit of a last minute emergency fill in, but it was still an honor to be asked.

I can do this, I thought. It was a low-tech crowd with little marketing experience. Our job was to get ideas flowing. They wanted concepts, not technical how-to. With just 2 1/2 days to prep, I frantically scripted my 15-20 minute remarks. Now I have an 18 min talk on Social Media & Service Delivery. What to do with it? Ah-ha I'll put it on my blog.

I had a great co-presenter, Shane Kempton of Phase2 Interactive. He started us off with an overview of social media: what is it, how is it different, how did we get here. Then I gave some examples of how the library is employing social media in our service delivery.

This is what I told them: "In way of introducing myself and telling you a bit about my background, I put together a list of new media tools I use personally. Now, obviously this isn't everything I've ever tinkered with, but this are the ones I tried and liked and stuck with: Twitter, Delicious, Facebook, Oklahoma Social Media Club, LinkedIn, Flickr, MyRagan, AIM, a family Web site, personal blog, and MySpace.

I show you these also because long before I implemented any of these tools to promote the Library, I tried them out for myself. To use these tools strategically, we have to start by doing our research, and that in part means learning about the community you want to join. There are cultural norms within these communities. If you want to be effective, you need to understand what's appropriate there. My personal accounts often started as research for work projects.

When I was preparing this talk, I started by making a list of all the new media tools we use at the Library. I was actually kind of surprised at how many things kept occurring to me. If you sit down and think about it, you are probably already using some new media at work. So you might try thinking about ways to expand or improve what you are already doing.

I took what we do, and broke these up into internal and external tools. Internally, we publish a twice-a-week email newsletter for employees, we use personal text and IM accounts to facilitate our work flow, we use delicious to share research on joint projects, We have an intranet and our Reference Librarians have built a wiki to share information and build a collection of commonly asked reference questions.

But what are we doing externally to communicate with our audiences about Library services? We have a Facebook presence, and I'll talk in more detail about that in just a second; our librarians answer questions via chat and instant messenger; the communications office uses blogs. And I want to mention here that to utilize blogs, you don't necessarily have to have an organization blog. We have one department in our library that has an "official" blog, but we also
have several employees who blog and they will occasionally blog about our services. We've also had some luck pitching stories to external bloggers.

We use Google Alerts to monitor external conversations, the Library twitters, I mentioned that we use delicious internally, but we also use delicious externally in our electronic press kits, we send a monthly email newsletter to the University Faculty, and we are starting to develop video tutorials. Not all of these I would consider successes. And in Q/A I'd be happy to talk about what didn't work well and why I think that is, but now I'd like to focus on a couple success stories..."

Actually, this blog entry is just a teaser. I went over two examples-our Facebook presence and our online newsroom. I'll blog those in Part 2 and 3.

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