Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Social Media & Service Delivery: Part 2

If you missed part 1, just scroll down. The Social Media presentation continues...

"We're talking today about using these tools strategically. I think one of the keys to doing this is to go where your audience is. At the Library we have several key audiences; one of our largest constituents is undergraduate students. Any guesses what social network you might find undergrad students using?


I checked this week and there are over 24,000 OSU students on Facebook. That's a lot of students that are already part of a community we can join. Our foray into Facebook began a few years back. My boss and I were at presentation on Millennials. We came back and she told me to go figure out the Facebook thing the kids are using. I logged on, built my profile invited a couple friends and started looking for other people who were talking about the library.

For while, we really just lurked, and that a great way to learn about the culture before you invest too much. I was really excited to see how many people were already talking about the Library and were already building their own groups around a Library-theme. It gave me confidence that this would be a good place to try to connect with people.

We started by placing ads with Facebook. It's a great place to start experimenting with online ads, because they make it very easy. You can customize who see your ads and can choose between pay per click fee structure or a pay per impression fee structure. Facebook will track for you how many impressions and clicks you get each day.

Then Facebook started their business pages. Until that point an organization was not allowed to have a profile. So we started researching how we could make this work. My staff and I looked at every other Library business page out there and took notes on what we liked, what we didn't, how many fans the other libraries had. We used this information to brainstorm ideas of our own and we started putting together a page.

This is a good time to mention how helpful it is to identify existing expertise in your organization. Many of the new tools you're thinking about implementing for your organization are already being used by someone who works with you. It will be worth your while to spend the time to find those people and employ their help. I have a young staff in the communications office. Four people work for me and they are all in their 20s. Facebook is their world, so I really just handed this project over to them and encouraged them to be creative and experiment.

We have all the basic information on the page: hours, contact info. some photos. We post notes: there are couple right now about upcoming hours changes, there are links to our Chat & IM services, create event pages, and occasionally we send out notice to our fans. And we still have so many good ideas we'd like to implement. With social media it's an ongoing time commitment, you have to update and keep things fresh. It's never going to be done, that's something you have to get comfortable with.

For our office and what we do, the one feature that has been the most useful for us is the event pages. Any of the administrators can go in and create an event for the library. The event basically gets its own Facebook profile. You can upload photos, we usually post the invitation or a print ad we've already used, you can link press releases or external sites about the topic or speaker, and there's a wall where guests can talk about the event.

Then you invite people. The response I got from the first event I created for the Library blew me away. It was 3 days before the event when I posted the page and invited 24 friends. By noon the day of the event over 900 invitations had been distributed. Now, I'm not going to try to tell you 900 people showed up, in fact the vast majority declined. We had about 24 yeses and 50 maybes. But it was an amazing example of how quickly and how far our message went by using this network."

Stay tuned for the second case study...

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