Author Archives: J. Andrews

The use of social media from someone in the general area of Boston

Like another classmate who previously posted, I was also planning to write on another subject. I was going to write about custom QR codes. I’ll probably still try to work that into my social media plan, or perhaps write a post about it later. But I feel like I should post about my social media life on Monday and Tuesday.

I live in southern New Hampshire. It’s roughly an hour north of Boston. I’m not supposed to be on Facebook at work, so I first heard about what was going on in Boston when I happened to go to the reference desk, where a coworker was looking at a news site. This was about 30-45 minutes after the explosions.

I knew one friend was home from work, because she’d posted about it. It was Patriot’s Day, so a lot of people in Mass either had the day off or were working from home. It just makes sense if you want to avoid the traffic mess the marathon causes. When I thought about it, I realized I actually know a lot of people who live or work in or near Boston. People who may’ve been running or watching the marathon. At that point I did go on Facebook, though it wouldn’t be until my workday ended that I could really comb Facebook for information and updates on people I knew.

I saw people checking in. I saw people asking other people to check in. I saw people offering to open their apartments to anyone who needed, well, anything. I saw people sharing information about where and when to donate blood. I saw others sharing information on websites to check on runners or other people. Early on, there were reminders to text rather than call, since it uses less bandwidth. I saw people sharing information as a way of helping, and I saw people just expressing general support and sympathy.

I had plans yesterday (Tuesday) to go into Boston to see Book of Mormon. I checked the Boston Opera House’s website to make sure it was still scheduled, but there was no information. I subscribed to their Facebook page, but there was nothing. Around about noon, I checked in again and there were people wondering what I was wondering.. was the performance going to go ahead? I had to resort to a phone call to get that information. Although eventually, around about 3pm, they finally did think to post to Facebook. Probably to help out their overloaded phone system. (I got a busy signal more than once.) And it was clear they didn’t keep much of an eye on their Facebook page normally. They post about once a month, and there were numerous spam comments on old posts that hadn’t been deleted.

I again used Facebook to inform my mother (mostly) and anyone else who might need to know, what my travel plans were. And I posted again when I got to Boston. And again when I got to the theater. Not that it did much good, because my mother still called me to ask!

My trip went fine. There were cops and military everywhere, but mostly they were just standing around. They were checking bags on the T and at the Opera House, but we hadn’t gone in with bags for that reason. The Celtics game was canceled, so there were no drunken revelers (or.. what’s the opposite of revelers?) to contend with. We thought some people might not have gone to the performance, but it was packed. I guess nobody wanted to miss Book of Mormon!

I am thankful my Facebook friends are, mostly, not the sort to post wild theories or condemn various groups without evidence.

I can’t help think about 9/11 and how I found out about NYC friends from mailing lists and blogs. I can’t say Facebook was any better, but it was different.

I’ll leave you with a link to an io9 post. How the Boston Marathon tragedy revealed the best side of social media.


Fumbling with Tumblr

Two cats and a dryer

Where’s the Tumbl button? — photo credit Malingering @ Flickr

The class readings we had on Tumblr taught me a few things about Tumblr I didn’t know before, but only left me more confused about it!

* It’s like Twitter, in that you can share quick thoughts with the world and do so from your phone.
* It’s like Flickr, in that you can easily share your photos with the world.
* It’s like LiveJournal, in that your blog exists in a community of other blogs with a feed of blogs you’re following.
* It’s like Facebook, in that you can share thoughts/photos/videos/links in a space that encouraging sharing of what you shared.
* It’s like a blog, in that.. it’s a blog.
* It’s like a podcast hosting site, in that you can easily post a podcast even if you only have a phone and no recording equipment.
* It’s like Pinterest, in that you can curate a collection of photos and links.

(Random note: My spellcheck likes Twitter, Flickr, LiveJournal, and Facebook, but says I misspelled Tumblr and Pinterest. Hrrrm.)

* It’s not as good as Twitter, because you can’t quickly search a hashtag to follow a discussion in real time.
* It’s not as good as Flickr, because you can’t create photo albums and easily see all the metadata embedded in the photo.
* It’s not as good as LiveJournal, because… well, maybe it is. But it’s not as old as LiveJournal.
* It’s not as good as Facebook, because all your friends and family aren’t on it and you can’t play games.
* It’s not as good as a blog on another platform, because you don’t have as much control and variety of plugins.
* It’s not as good as a podcast hosting site, because it doesn’t help you get your podcast onto iTunes or make your podcast easily searchable amongst other podcasts.
* It’s not as good as Pinterest, because Pinterest lets you see a collection all at once and makes it very easy to pin.

(Random note the second: Spellcheck is fine with podcast, but make it plural and it just can’t cope. Podcasts, really?)

I’m left with the conclusion that Tumblr falls into some niche that I just can’t pinpoint. It does things other places do, and just.. does them a little differently. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, mostly just differently. It probably is one of the causes for LiveJournal declining in popularity, at least in the US. It seems to most closely match what LiveJournal does, only with making it easier to customize and to post a variety of content.

I’m still not quite convinced I need to have one.

Longmont PL and UCSD Geisel Library Facebook Smackdown!

Geisel Library with purple sky.

A seriously awesome photo of UCSD’s Geisel Library – © UCSD

I took a look at the Longmont Public Library and the UCSD Geisel Library Facebook pages and did a comparison.

* Both libraries post regularly. I’d say they both average about once a day.
* Both libraries mix up the content between informative, interesting, humorous, and interactive (usually by asking a question).
* Both libraries use plenty of pictures.
* Both libraries have a user picture that shows off the library, though I think UCSD Geisel’s choice to include a group of apparently-excited students in the picture is a good idea.


I noticed that the Longmont PL tended to post their most informative and most important messages, such as the library being closed, as a plain text status message. This doesn’t get as much reach, either from Facebook’s algorithms, or by people simply scanning past it in their feed.

UCSD did this better, with a post about fire alarms going off that included a humorous (well, some would say) graphic to go with it.

Longmont PL has a timely banner image on their page, representing February, though it’s hard to read. The Geisel library is celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday, appropriately enough, which is March 2nd.

UCSD seems to have figured out how to get their address and phone # information to display directly on their page. I know from experience that this isn’t a simple thing. Longmont doesn’t seem to have figured it out. Because I think if they knew how to do it, they would have.

Comparing the number of “likes” to the number of “were here”s, it seems like UCSD is getting far more traffic relative to the number of people who have liked their page.

Finally, UCSD has some “home video” footage of dancers dancing under the library structure. That’s pretty cool. Especially as it gives a real sense of how large this unusual library building actually is.

I think I’m going to have to give the win to UCSD, but Longmont isn’t doing too shabbily.

Why every librarian should take a social media class like this

FB Comment: Applebee's, just shut up

Screencap by: R.L. Stollar

I ran across two different blog posts today that are both fascinating examples of how social media is a powerful tool that you need to know how to wield. Better to not wield it at all than to do it badly.

From the train wreck side of things, we have “Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown”. I’ll summarize it in the next paragraph, but you really should go give it a read. It’s enlightening, captivating, and amusing (as long as you’re not Applebee’s).

To sum: An employee posted a picture of a guest’s check. Applebee’s fired her. But that’s just the start of the story. Someone on behalf of Applebee’s, or probably several someones, was posting to their Facebook page. They posted a comment that should’ve been a status update. They tagged people with a repeated message, ie. spamming. They deleted comments. Then they deleted entire posts and their attendant comment threads. And as of the blog post I linked to, they hadn’t yet twigged to the idea of turning off comments.

In other words, they didn’t understand how to use Facebook or even how to engage with the Internet generally. There are things you don’t do. Deleting vast swaths of comments for one, spamming for another. And there are things that just aren’t a good idea to do — commenting on a thousands+ comment thread what should really be a status update if you want people to see it.

Was this someone they had hired as a social media expert? If so, the commentors that said that person should be fired as completely right. That person or persons don’t know what they’re doing.

Libraries are not immune to a situation blowing up like this one has. And yet the vast majority of them are probably less equipped to handle it than Applebee’s should be. Applebee’s has the money to high a top notch PR firm and social media experts. Most libraries only have a handful of staff with a hodgepodge of skills. How easy it would be for one of them to blunder along on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, without knowing how badly they’re screwing up until it’s too late.

Of course, maybe if that Applebee’s person had listened to some of the comments they were so busy deleting, they might have learned a few things about social media and Facebook in particular right quick.

Now from the opposite side of the coin, here’s John Scalzi, president of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) doing his best to stomp on a troll. A particularly heinous troll. I’ll spare you the details, as what’s mostly relevant here is how he’s decided to try tackling the situation. “Solving My Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit Problem”. Don’t let the title scare you off, the post itself is pretty tame. But feel free to read my summary below instead of or before you click.

To sum: Scalzi has thrown out there that he will be donating money to causes this troll would be firmly against any time said troll mentions him in one of his blog posts. So the troll now has two options. Keep talking about Scalzi, causing money to go to causes he’s against. Or stop talking about Scalzi.

And if anyone can pull this off well, it’s John Scalzi. He’s a well-known blogger and Twitterer. You may know him as the bacon on my cat guy. He’s even more well-known in science fiction and fantasy circles, the community in which this troll is trying to stir up trouble.

Both of these examples can only lead me to the conclusion that it’s better for a business to not do social media AT ALL, than to do it in ignorance. But if you can do it with a deep knowledge of how social media works and of that particular platform’s norms and mores, well, it can be absolutely stunningly effective.