Thursday, 5 August 2010

It's all about the Twitterverse..really? How is Social Media working for you?

Went to an excellent exchange of experience event yesterday at Mimas in Manchester organised by Nowal (title above). This was a great opportunity to share stories with other library people about how they used social media in the professional lives, whether personally or for their service... and I crazily volunteered to speak about our experience at LJMU.

Lisa Jeskins from Mimas kicked us off introducing the day and explaining about what Mimas is and does. We all introduced ourselves and gave a reason why were were there. The was a mixture of experiences of using social media and a range of reasons for attending.

I was up next talking about what we've been doing at LJMU - we are at the very early stages having just set up a Facebook page and Twitter feed, with two blogs currently feeding both of these - the Electronic Library blog and the Customer Services blog which was set up by a colleague Simon Turner. I offered my 5 tops tips:
  1. Get the boss on side - they can advocate upwards for you and on the whole makes it much easier to get things done
  2. Preparation is everything - I showed the group our Facebook page drawn out on flip chart paper - we did this before we even went online
  3. Listen up - we got good advice from others so I would recommend talking to others that have already done this
  4. Adapt and overcome - be aware that things change in the world of social media so you need to be prepared for this
  5. Strategy - make your social media presence part of your organisational strategy. If you have a strategy you can more easily move onto the next big thing when it happens. By making it part of the strategy you're not just relying on keen individuals - if you do this you run the risk that when they leave it all falls apart.

I was really pleased that this stimulated a lot of questions and discussions and it's really weird reading tweets after the event where you are quoted. No longer does what you say remain in the room but it is broadcast to a much wider audience without you knowing what is being said. Very scary and exciting.

Next up was Beth Ruddock who talked about her use of social media for professional development. Beth finds Twitter a valuable tool for making key contacts in the profession as well as for following events (like this one) that you have been unable to attend physically. Beth reads lots of professional blogs and blogs herself as it's a great way to progress within your profession. She received an award and being a modest person said she didn't know that she was necessarily doing more than others but that she was doing it publicly. This led to other things including an article in Update about her. Having a good Twitter presence can help your career. She also talked about the success of projects @theREALwikiman and @Woodsiegirl have been involved in that has come about because of engagement with social media.

Social media is a great tool to "grow" ideas and in her experience Twitter displays professional generosity - people are willing to help out. Through Twitter people have been asked to speak at conferences, be part of projects etc.

I thought what Beth had to say was really interesting and has made me want to be more active in my use of Twitter and other social media. I do post but not very often and am maybe not getting as much out of it as I could. I certainly use Twitter more for work than Facebook and get useful contacts and interesting links from others but maybe there is more... hmm something to ponder.

Next up was Sue Lawson from Manchester libraries. Her presentation was really inspiring, they seem to be doing so much. It seems that one area of developments leads into other things, sometimes by accident. The more engaged you are with social media the more opportunities seem to develop. I thought their Facebook page looked really good. Sue said she did used to spend ages get the boxes just right on the page but realised that many people only look at the news feed and never actually get to the page so she now spends more time writing interesting items for the feed - this is definitely something I will take away from the session. I was getting a bit hung up about what else we needed to put on our page but maybe we just need to focus on writing some more positive and interesting posts - it follows that I'll try to do this for the E-Library page too (this was my action point from the day).

I liked their use of flickr, which includes photos of central library before the refurb, much of this content is user generated.

Sue also showed us her "listening Wall" - this is a Netvibes space which collects what people are saying about the libraries and all the transformation team have logins to this - I thought this was a really good idea, bringing it all together in one space. Other things to investigate later would be Hootsuite and Issuu

After all that we needed some lunch and further sharing went on whilst we were eating. After lunch Lisa Jeskins talked about her experiences of using Twitter for work and how she's started a blog. Lisa talked about how tweeting at an event is a great marketing tool - the Mimas cupcakes - a few tweets to friends, spread and news of the Mimas cupcakes spread far and wide (Internet Librarian International 09)

Lisa also talked about the value and challenges of using twitter as a supplementary tool for training courses. You need to be careful not to alienate potentially half of your training course by providing information prior to the course via Twitter that those who are on Twitter don't get. She has set up a training blog herself and said that by using Twitter first this gave her the confidence to set up the blog.

After this we split into two groups for a very stimulating and interesting discussion. Rather than reinvent the wheel Beth summarised the discussion really well in her tweets on the day so check out them out for the main points - available here:

I have to say whilst writing this I've been re-reading the tweets to supplement the notes I made and that has been really helpful. So thanks to all those who tweeted and thanks for a great, stimulating and inspiring day.

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