Reminiscing about “23 Things”

Ahhh, nostalgia – it’s not what it used to be…

23 Things Oxford (2010) was the first “23 Things” program in the UK, run by a team of 5 and initiated and led by me back in the days when we started to use the term “social media” instead of “Web 2.0”, and spent a lot of time trying to find out what Web 2.0 meant (if anything).  It was followed by 23 Things Summer Camp, an article in SCONUL Focus, a poster at a conference in Finland, and the 23 Things Team won an OxTALENT Award.

A recent discussion prompted me to wonder how far the 23 Things concept (link to Helene Blowers’ original) had spread in the UK after 23 Things Oxford.  Here’s a list of what I’ve found (and inaugural years) – please let me know if I’ve missed any:

  • 23 Things Cambridge (2010) – “23 Things is a self-directed course designed to introduce University of Cambridge UL, faculty and college library staff to Web 2.0 technologies.”
  • 23 Things Warwick (2010) – “23 Things is an online learning programme designed to introduce library staff at the University of Warwick to web 2.0 technologies.”
  • 23 Things for Professional Development (2011) – “23 Things is a self-directed course aimed at introducing you to a range of tools that could help your personal and professional development as a librarian, information professional or something else.”
  • 23 Things for the Digital Professional (2011) – “Welcome to 23 Things for the Digital Professional, the online learning programme for research staff and students at the University of Warwick. Over the next 10 weeks we will be posting 23 things on this blog introducing participants to a range of online tools for maximising your impact, research and teaching.”
  • DH23Things (2012) – Digital skills development programme for Researchers in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University: “23Things for Digital Humanities (DH23) is an online, self-directed, peer mentored reflective programme to help researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University to explore digital technologies and the ways in which they impact on various aspects of their working lives, and thereby to develop their own strategic approach to engagement with digital technologies.”
  • 23 Things UK (2012?) – 23 Things is primarily an informal self-taught course designed for those working in Public Library Services.
  • Sot23 Things Southampton (2013) – “Sot23 Things is a self directed online learning programme designed to introduce library staff at the University of Southampton to web 2.0 technologies”
  • 23 Things York (2013) – “The current 23 Things programme is aimed at Information Directorate staff”
  • 23 Things for Research Surrey (2016) – “23 Things for Research Surrey exposes you to a range of digital tools that will help you in your development as a researcher, and a professional.” Happening now!  Give them a wave on Twitter with #23ThingsSurrey
  • [Updated Jan 2017] 23 Things for Digital Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh

What I like most about this list is that you can see how the idea spread across a network of people, including many people who knew each other primarily via Twitter.

Beyond UK – some other interesting “things”

  • 23 Things @ UL (University of Limerick) (2010) – “23 Things @ UL, an online learning discovery programme about Web 2.0 tools that encourages exploration and learning about new technologies. This programme is for faculty and staff at the University of Limerick”
  • 23 Mobile Things (2013) – “Exploring the potential of mobile tools for delivering library services” (based on Danish 23 Mobile Ting) “offers library workers the chance to build their awareness, knowledge and skills at their own pace is a fun professional development tool”
  • 23 Research Things at University of Melbourne Library (2014) – “23 Research Things is an online learning programme for university staff and graduate students, showcasing a range of digital tools that can support research activity.”
  • 23 (Research Data) Things for 2016 (2016) – “If you are a person who cares for, and about, research data and want to fill in some gaps, learn more, find out what others are thinking… then this may be for you!”
  • 23 Teaching Things (2016) – “For students at The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work – Each week we will share a few ‘Things’ about digital tools. Your goal is to spend a little time trying them out then reflecting on how they may be useful for your teaching.”

And there’s Helene Blowers’ megalist of all 23 Things programs inspired by her original idea.  That’s quite a legacy.

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#ISEWLib2014 Social media

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

Katrin (Ms Germany) gave a presentation about how social media is used at the University Library of Regensburg.

See the @UniOfSunLib 7-step marketing toolkit for libraries.  I also told the group about how we encourage library customers to use social channels to report noise in the library, so that we can send a member of staff to come and help promptly.

Within the group, we talked about reach, impact, conversations.  Interaction is the most important impact metric for social media across our libraries, and often the most difficult to measure.  It’s important to experiment with different social media platforms, and not be afraid to stop doing things which aren’t working, or abandon platforms your customers no longer use.

Tips for better blogging

A group of us met today for a session about better blogging – a forum for sharing ideas and best practice, rather than an expert presentation approach.  The members of the group all worked for the library service, in a variety of roles, and some (but not all) were responsible for maintaining subject liaison blogs.

We started with some small-group discussion on the following topics:

What do I want from my blog?

Responses included: a communication channel, an alternative to email, a place to communicate less formally, a mechanism for reaching both students and academic staff, a platform for publishing instructions/FAQs.  In general, the tone aimed to be informative and friendly.

What type of content do I post?

Some examples were: news, events, instructions (e.g. logging in), recycling of content from the library website (e.g. learning spaces, opening hours), special campaigns or promotions.  Some blogs had static pages as well as the usual dynamic front page (and this was used like a LibGuide).

How effective is my blog?

This was a question that elicited further questions rather than definitive answers!  As well as quantitative statistics (whether obtained via the blogging platform itself, or Google Analytics), we talked about the importance of qualitative feedback and value.  Furthermore, even if the stats are good, are the ‘right’ people reading it?

Strategy, planning, and evaluation

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of our blogs, it’s important to start with a strategy (why am I doing this?), back it up with a plan of action (when, how?), and then look at impact (what, and on whom).

Use a diary approach to plan posts – this helps to get good mix of different types of content, and means that you don’t have to spend time every week thinking of what to post.

Blogging plan

Example blog plan for one academic year

Over the year, block in specific campaigns or publicity drives, and seasons such as freshers and dissertations.  You can auto-schedule posts to publish on specific days to cover periods when you will be away, or busy with other projects.  Get ideas by following other blogs.

From time to time, review your blog to assess its total impact, and its specific effect on your target audience.  Use this information to decide which approaches/content to keep and which to abandon, and see the effect of trying new things.

Action!

We then condensed our ideas about aims, content, media, and measurable outcomes.  Here are some ideas for each:

Ideas for aim, content, media, and outcomes

Ideas for aim, content, media, and outcomes

In combination with your annual plan, you can inject some variety by choosing an item at random from each column to come up with a fresh approach for one of your blogging strands.

See also: Social media strategy (2010)

Round-up of Bodleian Libraries Digital Know-How Day #BODdkh1

Here’s my summary of 3 talks given as part of the first Bodleian Libraries’ Digital Know-How Day last week.

Alison Prince – Social media strategy

  • Impact assessment is a process aimed at guiding the development of projects… Knowing why you are doing it!
  • “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”
  • If you don’t know why you’re doing something, there’s a strong chance it might not be useful/important & chances of success lower
  • Balanced value model: 5 modes of cultural value for digital resources
  • Goal setting > performance measurement > performance diagnosis > corrective action > and back to the beginning
  • Performance management is ongoing – can’t just launch something and walk away
  • Communicate and report your analysis to make it known to a wider audience – senior and local teams. Share wisdom & insight
  • What do people in the business world use online analytics for? Econsultancy report
  • 4 key points: knowing why, can’t manage what you can’t measure, demonstrate value (showing better than saying), communicate wisdom

See also: Social media strategy

Eric T. Meyer – Impact as a process: considering the reach of resources from the start

  • “Users” is a bad word – implies passivity.  Don’t think of users as passive recipients of your content/activity
  • Don’t give your resource a cute name that is not sufficiently individual – will make it impossible to find in web search e.g. CATS
  • Use a survey running from your home domain URL if possible – not generic ones like SurveyMonkey- increases legitimacy
  • Users of digitised collections often cite references as if they had consulted the original print media.  They are aware from an early stage in their careers that there is prejudice against a bibliography that looks like they did all research from their laptop, even though content of digital and original archives is the same!
  • See Eric’s report: Collaborative yet independent: information practices in the physical sciences.  Most humanities scholars surveyed used Google (79%) or Google Scholar (66%) to find new info.  Many also use libraries, journals and peers.  Many good library services are almost invisible to users e.g. subscription resources
  • What is the value of value? Deeper impact on smaller community or broader, shallower reach? Which will appeal to donors/sponsors?

Johannes Neuer – Measuring and optimising social media at New York Public Library (NYPL).  This session was delivered using Skype!

  • Where do you want to go with social?  Start with SMART targets
  • Focus on outcomes: difficult to measure impact of social media on physical visits and readership, but easier to see impact of social media on website visits, brand mentions and downloads
  • Tools for collecting social data include HootSuite – columns for keyword searches, @ mentions, sent and scheduled tweets
  • TwitterCounter for competitive analysis
  • CrowdBooster to visualise retweets.  Offers data in a sortable table
  • TweetStats  and SocialFlow
  • Facebook Insights – data at page and post levels
  • Meltwater Buzz – mentions and spread
  • AddThis  – viral content
  • Google Analytics – use custom reports to unleash its full potential
  • Productivity – Excel, Evernote and Reminders
  • NYPL’s marketing dashboard: published monthly; focus on newsletters, Facebook and Twitter; six month overview
  • Optimising email with social media: at NYPL they tested blog content on social media to see which were most popular/engaging and used these results to decide which blog content to include in their email newsletter
  • Preparing a campaign for tracking: custom variables and events (track with GA); measure referrals
  • “The NYPL is pleased to provide you with wireless Internet access” – good to remind users of services provided by the library
  • “Protect your roots, support your branches” campaign to fight cuts at NYPL
  • All social media contributors at NYPL have to do a course in the use of social media. Thereafter, their updates do not need to be approved (but are still monitored)

Many thanks to Alison Prince for getting this event organised and hopefully there will be many more Digital Know-How Days in future!

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.

Developing libraries beyond web 2.0

Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries) gave a fast-paced tour of technology developments on the horizon and their applications and implications for libraries.  He encouraged us to think of the opportunities and the gaps associated/filled/opened up by each.

Nick works in the public library sector, and feels that academic libraries are ahead in terms of technological change and he gains a lot of useful ideas from following them – as an academic librarian, this felt good to hear!

Hype cycle – bear this in mind when considering adopting a new technology.

Hype cycle

It can be difficult to tell where you are on the curve – he suggested that Twitter was at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ but I think who you are and how you use a technology has a strong influence here.  For example, for me and many other librarians who use Twitter, I feel that I have reached a point in my relationship with Twitter where it really helps me do my job and network with other professionals, and I would place our use closer to the ‘plateau of productivity’.

RFID

  • Nick recommended Mick Fortune’s RFID blog
  • Similar standardisation problems as ebooks – different tools not interoperable between different systems (though ISO 28560-2 standard should help?)
  • Future: wearable RFID devices?

Context-aware computing

  • Gadgets will become more like personal companions
  • Example: TV remote control can collect data about how it is used by different people and offer recommendations for TV shows

Location-based data

  • Great advances in GPS technology
  • Proximity marketing using facial recognition uses expressions to decide which advert to display
  • Facial recognition used stealthily by Facebook (as reported in the Daily Telegraph)

Social media

  • Increasing business use has made social media more corporate
  • Google+ is the new competitor

Open source data

Augmented reality

  • Lets you know about nearby services, or combine with RFID to locate the position of a book
  • E-commerce
  • Apps for tourists

QR codes

  • Increasing use in business and advertising
  • Signposting – useful in libraries!
  • Green (paperless) ticketing
  • Dutch coinage with QR code

Issues

  • Privacy and security
  • Openness and transparency
  • Linked data – where does it go?
  • Costs and savings
  • Marketing and promotion

Other trends

  • Web traffic to mobile devices increasing
  • Rise of cloud computing
  • Ebooks and digital publishing

Social media strategy

Following on from the success of 23 Things Oxford, a small group of us decided to run an short follow-up programme called 23 Things Summer Camp.  Summer Camp consisted of three sessions:

  1. Strategy
  2. Setup
  3. Synchronisation

Ox23 badge - Setup

All sessions are running twice this summer, in July and August.  The aim of Summer Camp is to act as a catalyst for library staff to build on what they learned in 23 Things by developing a social media presence for their libraries in time for the start of next term in October.

I co-ran the Strategy sessions with my colleague Alison Prince, and this post will be a summary of what we covered.

Ox23 badge - Synchronisation

The other two Summer Camp themes were Setup and Synchronisation.

The setup session was there to help people get started with their social media tools, and the Synchronisation slot showed people how to syndicate content and have, for example, a Twitter account feeding a Facebook page account, or display Flickr pictures on a blog sidebar.

Social media strategy

Whichever tools you use, start off with the following questions: who is your audience?  What will your content be? How will the tool be maintained? When will it be updated? Where will you focus your presence [which tools/sites will you use]? And why will you be doing it at all?

Ox23 badge - StrategyWhen considering how to approach a social media presence for your library, it is important to start by considering your strategy.  Many organisations are starting to use social media as a way of engaging and communicating with their users.  The key benefit of social media is communication: it gives an informal way of interacting with your users and allows both parties to contribute.  Some people worry that this will open the doors to a flood of complaints or otherwise unwelcome comments, but in fact it gives you a wonderful chance to reply to their concerns: they may be misconceptions which you can correct, or they might give you ideas for developing and improving your service.  You could also consider how using social media can help you support the strategic aims of your organisation.

Having considered why you are looking to begin this social media journey, let’s move on to considering the Who, What and Where: audience, content and tools.

Who – audience

Depending on your library, your audience may be large or small, homogenous or varied.  Your audience may consist of undergraduates, postgraduates, academic staff, alumni, library staff, external visitors, the media, tourists and a range of random other people.  These segments of your audience may be seeking different information from you.

What – content

In terms of content, here are some ideas for what you would like to publish:

  • Library location, opening times, lending rules, library guides
  • New titles acquired by the library
  • Events in the library
  • Changes to opening hours
  • Reminders e.g. return books before end of term
  • Changes to staffing or procedures
  • Advertising other events in your organization e.g. lectures, training, other news stories
  • Building/maintenance work, or other disruption to normal services
  • User education – include snippets of advice on info issues
  • Emergencies e.g. many libraries could not open as usual earlier this year because of snow- or ash cloud-related disruption.  These updates made it onto Twitter and Facebook much faster than onto official library webpages

You could run a series of posts e.g. tip of the week, staff book recommendations.  It helps to plan your content ahead of time so that even if it’s a slow week on the news front, you still have something to post about.

Where – tools

There are many social media tools available.  Some of the most well-known are Facebook, Twitter, blogging (e.g. Blogger, WordPress), Flickr, LibraryThing, social bookmarking (e.g. Delicious).

Next, you need to decide which social media sites work well for the content and audiences you have identified for your library.  For example, interactions on Facebook tend to be mutual, and are more intimate than those on Twitter.  For a college library like mine, where there is a strong sense of community, Facebook is likely to work well.  However, because Twitter is a more open community, it works well for reaching external users.  Regarding content, if you want to involve pictures in your strategy, Flickr will be much more useful to you than LibraryThing. But if you have a lot of links to share, a social bookmarking tool such as Delicious might be perfect for you.

Marketing and segmentation

Consider the outcome of these points above: hopefully you should now be able to identify which tools you will focus on, what content you will publish on them and which audiences you will be trying to attract.  You can also build this in to your library’s marketing materials by including ‘Find us on Facebook’, ‘Follow us on Twitter’ or similar signposting.  You could deliberately segment your approach by marketing one of your social media tools to your postgraduate audience and another to your undergraduates.  If some of them join in with both, it probably won’t matter, but you can use a different approach on the two tools which are geared to the needs of each group.

The management of your social media strategy

In order to give your plan the best chance of success, here are some points to consider before leaping in and building your online identity:

Admins and logons – keep these generic.  Use a library email address that is not specific to a person to set up your tools e.g. library@university.ac.uk.  Otherwise, once the person who set up the account moves on to another job, you may not be able to remove them as an admin.  Keep a record of usernames and passwords in your staff manual.

House style and editorial considerations – decide early on what standards you want to establish for tone/familiarity, spelling, brand identity (e.g. use of your organisation’s logo and approved font), proofreading, if any topics are off-limits.

Approval process – do posts need to be approved by a second person who will double-check the house style?  Approval from a senior person may be necessary for information which could be controversial or sensitive.

Day-to-day issues – how often will the content be updated?  By whom?  If someone comments on your page, it is important to reply promptly, so someone needs to monitor your sites daily to pick up and respond to feedback.  If any of the feedback is negative, a response may need to go through an approval process as outlined above.

Success measurement – how will you know if your efforts have been a success?  Decide on a trial period: perhaps a term, semester or other period of a few months.  Choose some targets.  Gaining 50 fans (people who have ‘Liked’ your page) on Facebook may be a modest target for some, and ambitious for others, so bear in mind the size of your potential audience and adjust your expectations accordingly.  Other things you could measure include: number of RSS subscribers (e.g. using Feedburner), number of followers, @ replies or mentions (Twitter), number of hits or page views (blogs, LibraryThing).  In addition or as an alternative, you could carry out a quick survey asking your users if they have used any of your social media tools, and whether they found them valuable.  After your trial period, review your targets and decide what to continue with from there.  You could try setting up a presence on many tools to begin with, then narrowing that down after your trial period when you can see which ones have been the most popular.

By now, you will have all you need to get set up and synchronised!

Closing thoughts…

I have found that many people expect building their social media presence to be time-consuming.  Of the list of content above, I hope you will agree that much of this content already exists (probably on the library’s official web page) and the rest is a good example of the type of information we should be communicating to our users.  So I would argue that building this presence will mostly involved doing what we are/should be already doing, and just putting this content in more places so that people can find it easily and interact with it.

Be bold: give social media a go, and whatever the outcome, it is good to have tried.  If you decide not to continue using a tool after the trial period, you don’t need to close it down, just add a last post saying that the site is no longer being updated.  See also: Risk, failure and success.

Good luck with your social media adventures!

Picture credits: Jane Rawson