Highlights from Oxford Social Media Day 2011

Oxford Social Media Day 2011 took place on 8th September.  I live-tweeted the event and you can search for #osm11 on Twitter for all related tweets.

Now that many libraries are using social media, this aim of the day was to be inspired to take it further.  Our  five speakers did an excellent job and here are my top take-home tips.

  • Jo talked about how librarians interact with many different groups of users and stakeholders in our work, and asked us each to prepare a 30-second elevator pitch to market our skills to one of those groups.
  • This was great for practising my skills in “selling” the library and its services to senior management, students or academics.
  • People will infer things from your brand even if you don’t actively manage it.  For the next exercise, we had to think of 3 words or phrases to describe the brand we would like to convey.
  • Use namecheckr  to see if your username is available on a range of social sites
  • It’s important to keep your brand consistent across different social media sites
  • In social media, commitment to community not the tool is important – go to the sites where your users are.

Public library social media policy #osm11

  • Public libraries & museums act 1964 – key legislation relating to how public libraries operate today
  • Some things you don’t know in advance, and can’t predict if a venture will work – you just have to try it out
  • Need qualitative data to assess effectiveness of service delivery
  • Risk aversion makes things difficult (same problem in universities)
  • Use social media for service delivery – go beyond using it simply as an announcement service
  • The worst possible social media strategy: “we want a Facebook/Twitter/whatever page”
  • Libraries can get involved in online forums as well as the main social media sites
  • What would you expect from a public library’s social media presence?

Ideas from the audience: Mumsnet, catch kids young, involve community groups, book clubs, humour

Ideas from people on Twitter: Direct contact with someone who can answer queries, not just referral to an FAQ page (via @stormfilled); Up-to-date info & speedy, personal, informal response to enquiries (via @archelina)

Marketing academic libraries in a web 2 world

View more presentations from Ned Potter
  • Social media gives great opportunity to listen as well as post
  • No one cares about the “how” – focus on benefits not features, outcomes not process (in the words of @radfemburlesque: Don’t say “hey, we have books” – say “hey, we can get you a first / make your 2.1 less work”)
  • Recommended sites for Twitter analysis: Twocation, Tweetstats, Klout. Focus on improving engagement stats rather than how many followers you have
  • Use Facebook to rescue buried treasure – highlight features of the library
  • “One minute on… “ technique for making short and snappy videos. e.g. One minute on e-journals
  • Use focus groups to get useful and honest feedback about your service

Andrew Hood from Lynchpin Analytics on Measuring social media success (presentation available to download)

  • Monitoring vs measurement – translating what we’ve measured into “has it worked?”
  • The monitoring challenge: capture, collate, filter, category, sentiment, classify, trend, risk analysis, respond
  • Risk analysis – or opportunity analysis (turn problem into opportunity?)
  • Don’t report on something if you can’t do anything about it – use metrics for factors you can influence
  • Monitoring tips: set up RSS searches and collate
  • Measuring tips: document KPIs, use Google Analytics, benchmark by traffic source & engagement

Duncan Smith of iCompli on Social network sites: managing risks (presentation available to download)

  • Something defamatory + published = libel. Things previously said in private now published publicly
  • Not allowed to run competitions on Facebook
  • Contempt of court: do not publish anything to do with a court case (esp. imp. for local authorities)
  • Employee use of social networks – employees with access should have ‘basic’ legal training
  • BBC’s guidance/policy docs on social media – managers “should not adopt an overly restrictive approach”
  • You are responsible for moderated comments on your blog because you authorised/published them
  • Good idea to have a “notice and take down” procedure – could be just an email address to contact
  • Data Guidance – good for legal info (subscription resource)

A very thought-provoking day… I find myself dwelling on issues of the last presentation in particular.

I would love to think that most employees are intelligent enough to know what is appropriate use of social media (or ask if they’re not sure) and I worry that too much bureaucracy will extinguish the sparks of imagination and creativity that make social media such a dynamic and fun way to reach out to our users.

I’m pondering how to write a titanium* social media policy that would still have enough oomph to be meaningful and act as a useful tool for staff; while avoiding being just another work-related document that you have to sign to say you have read but then forget about**.

*Low density, lightweight but strong.  See what I did there?
**Examples: equal opportunities policy, smokefree policy, use of IT policy, health and safety policy, fire safety policy (I could go on)… all worthy aims but bogged down by documents that can feel more like a noose than an airbag.
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Librarians as researchers: that’s a good IDEA

I really enjoyed this session, led by Miggie Pickton (University of Northampton) and Carolynn Rankin (Leeds Metropolitan University).

What does research look like?  Everyday research skills include: reading, watching, questioning, summarising, presenting, listening, choosing, organising, writing up, reflecting.  Many of us are already doing research, but maybe we just don’t realise that it is research!

Research is the professionalisation of everyday skills (Blaxter, 2008)

Library practitioners are often highly innovative in their practice and undertake research-related activity as a normal part of their working lives.

This new knowledge and understanding is often not recognised as research nor is it shared with the wider professional community.

We did an icebreaker exercise to meet each other and learn about the types of research activity we had each been involved in:

Name

Library service

What did they do?

Has had to provide evidence of service value
Has engaged with an external quality benchmark
Has and to collect statistics for annual reviews
Has run a focus group
Has written and/or presented a report to their organisation
Has helped a service user find resources for their research
Has contributed to a publication
Has explored ways of improving their service

Miggie and Carolynn introduced the framework for developing your research:

I=interest, issue, idea
D=develop, discuss, define
E=engage, elaborate, enact
A=advocate, advertise, apply

I=interest, issue, idea

  • Identify a project or research opportunity that interests you or meets a need
  • What do I want to know?
  • How could this help my practice or benefit my organisation?
  • What’s in it for me?

D=develop, discuss, define

  • Define the research question
  • What has been done on this before? Where is the evidence base? Where are the gaps?
  • Develop the project proposal – SMART objectives, appropriate methods

E=engage, elaborate, enact

  • Partnership and connections
  • Look for common goals
  • Win-win agenda
  • Who will you engage with and how?
  • This might be partners, colleagues, management, funders, policymakers

A=advocate, advertise, apply

  • Who needs to know about your work? Service users, managers, funders, policymakers
  • Where will your research make a different?
  • Effecting change within and beyond the library

S=Skills

Finally, the multiplier effect comes in when you add skills.

This session was practical and energising, and it started me thinking about the many ways I could apply these ideas to my work.