Tag Archives: facebook

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.


Nurturing Discussion via Social Media

One of the topics I considered examining in my previous blog post was why some blogs generate lots of comments and others don’t. Instead, I dwelt on the related topic of expanding your social network. I did, however, mention the issue of “how some blogs are much better at encouraging and facilitating discussion than others” and went on to contrast two different blogs. Now that I’ve had a bit more time to reflect, I’d like to propose a few reasons why some people (and libraries) generate far more discussion than others – on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

1. Personal connection – When people know you (or feel like they know you), they’re more likely to feel comfortable engaging with you and your thoughts. This applies not only to celebrities and those in the public eye, but to those who share their own opinions and ideas. Thus, people (and libraries) that are rather impersonal are going to find it difficult to make people care enough to respond.

2. Engagement – If you tweet a question to a library and it fails to respond, then you might give up and stop trying to engage with it. Responding to comments and questions that people pose to you is a good way of nurturing discussion and showing that you actually care; it’s part of the dialogue. Social media is not just a way for companies and libraries to advertise their products and services at lower cost than traditional advertising. It is also about listening. I’m always impressed when I hear that a company has reversed one of its decisions or policies because of social media feedback.

2. Quality content – It’s not enough to just blog, tweet, pin or post often. You have to disseminate words, photos and videos that engage people’s minds and/or hearts. The library that posts on Facebook that it will be closed on Presidents’ Day is making an important announcement, but not one that will generate discussion. Libraries that share photos of events and exhibitions or videos of speakers or poetry readings gain a lot more traction.

These three reasons why some people (and libraries) generate more discussion than others are really just the tip of the iceberg. What would you add?

Back in the day…before joining Facebook

My original plan was to generate my own study using the five high schools and five colleges I have had some connection to over the years, much like Michalis Gerolimos’ article: Academic Libraries on Facebook: An Analysis of Users’ Comments.

Of my five high schools, none have a library specific FB account, and four of the five are pitiful with their pages: average posts 3-11 a year, and half of those are self-serving advertisements targeted at students. Few were liked, and only staff posted comments.

However, one really stood out as jumping into the deep end of Facebook: CVA. It is a private high school in northwestern Maine supporting winter ski and snowboarding athletes. Many of the alum have gone on to national and international acclaim: Bode Miller, Seth Wescott, Kirsten Clark, and Emily Cook.

In the old days (1982 through 2011), they had morning meetings (entire school); they still do. It always ended with Haggie giving an eclectic Maine ‘word of the day’. Now, he creates YouTube videos to share through FB. They used to pay a service to mine for alum (professional and athletically) in newspapers, journals, media across the world. Now, with social media it is shared with them and they pass it on – all with the click of a button.

Students travel the planet for training and competition, during the season formerly only bringing video equipment to analyze techniques to improve. Now, all trips post photo albums on FB. Teachers used to be left behind (and paid only 1/3 of a coach!). Now, they are spotlighted on Vimeo for both in the classroom and personal acclaim that reflects well on the school. They used to mail out newsletters (with donation envelopes) four times a year, then via email. Now, they use PayPal and FB to make financial support requests. They cross-connect with local, state and national media and push them out via FB links. The students upload to Flickr and share new albums of what is important to them: events, silly fun, prom, graduations, etc. 

Since CVA dove into FB in May 2012, they have gained 872 likes with 42 friends talking about them and another 38 were here. Between May and December 2012, they posted 101 status updates, earning 392 likes, 35 comments and 15 shares (mostly from family of students). All of this with one person coordinating for a school of 65 students and about 30 staff. Not too bad of an investment of time…the marketing/public relations is priceless.

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.

Google+ vs. Facebook in Public Libraries

Many public libraries are delving into the social media world. In an ideal world, public libraries would have as many social media accounts as they could possible manage. Obviously, this is a pipe dream for perennially understaffed public libraries. Therefore, public libraries must make some choices. Google+ and Facebook are both great options for library social media, but are both really necessary?

Running social media, particularly for smaller organizations like public libraries, is mostly an investment of time. For each social media account that the library has, the library must do a variety of things. The page, comments, shares, likes, etc. must be monitored. Content, postings, and photos must be created and posted. The page must be created, and it must be designed well. Friends must be made, and circles joined. All of this takes valuable staff hours, which is something many public libraries must cut back on.

It’s clear that it’s not practical, for small public libraries at least, to join as many social media websites as possible. Libraries must choose how to reach as many people as possible. After all, how many people do you know who use Google+ but NOT Facebook? If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, perhaps Facebook is the way to go.

A Dizzying Array of Choices

Am I the only one with my head spinning here?  While the world of social media is a wonder, to be sure, it’s also just a tad bit overwhelming.  What to choose, implement and manage not only for yourself, but for your institution?   Who’s to say what will be around next year or what will be the new “it” tool to add to the pile?

Even conservatively picking the “biggies” one could end up with personal accounts  on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google +.  Add to that professional  accounts for your library/institution and you’ve got another set of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.  I’m not even including Tumblr, Instagram, and many others and our tally is already at 9 accounts!  Who has time for that?!

I don’t know, but I’m thinking the best way to go here to maintain sanity (and some semblance of free time) is to employ the old, “pick one thing and do it well” approach.  Ok, maybe two or three things…but not nine!  Unless I had unlimited resources and a crack team of Web 2.0-ers…

If I was helping a library launch a Library 2.0 presence from scratch, I think I’d go with Facebook and Pinterest.  I think they’re both accessible, intuitive, and complement each other nicely.  Other pairings like say, Facebook and Twitter or Facebook and Google+ have a lot more overlap and the pressure to come up with original content for both at least some of the time might prove tricky.

For my personal use, I currently have only a Facebook page (and a couple of blogs), though I signed up for Pinterest today and plan to do a LinkedIn account when I get closer to graduation.  Baby steps…

Why Public Facebook Pages Make Good Friends…

I’m really not a big fan of Facebook.   I joined in 2008 shortly after moving from New Jersey to Texas as a way to stay in contact with my New Jersey friends.  Looking back over my timeline only took a couple of seconds because I so rarely post and didn’t post anything in 2011.  If you have ever seen those articles about the Types of Facebook Users, I am The Shy Retirer – “You know those people who loiter on the fringes of a party or conversation and contribute so little that they might as well not even be there? This type of Facebook user is even more of a non-entity, with weeks or months elapsing between blips of activity” (http://www.splicetoday.com/digital/the-31-types-of-facebook-users).   This is so funny to me because in real life I am the farthest thing from the Shy Retirer.  I am the person who mingles with everyone, telling funny stories, in the conversational loop, bringing others into the loop and generally having a blast.  But on Facebook I am a Shy Retirer, which is really just a nice way of saying a stalker/lurker.

So I asked myself, “Why do I find it so easy to socialize in person, but impossible on Facebook?”  I don’t really have an answer.  I think the answer lies somewhere between being afraid of being boring and seeming narcissistic.  And then there is the fact that I don’t really feel like I’m friends with some of these people anymore and don’t think they’ll care too much about what I have to say.  And finally there is the fear that something I write might offend someone so it’s easier to just keep my mouth shut. However, when I read my friends posts I don’t particularly think of them as either boring or narcissistic.  Their posts are usually a good blend of interesting and amusing, sometimes mundane, sometimes bragging, but all in reasonable limits.  Other people think everyone on Facebook is their friend who cares and they don’t seem to worry about offending.  So what’s wrong with me?

And, I’ll admit I sometimes feel isolated and depressed when on Facebook.  Everyone else seems to have more fun and interesting lives and things to say.  This description from Stephen Marche’s 2012 Atlantic Monthly article, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely,” sums it up well: “Non-personalized use of Facebook – scanning your friends’ status updates and updating the world on your activities via your wall, or what Burke1 calls “passive consumption” or “broadcasting” – correlates to feelings of disconnectedness.  It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear” (p.65).   I do believe Facebook contributes to feelings of loneliness, inferiority, and disconnectedness.  I have felt these feelings while on Facebook and I am an outgoing, confident, well-liked person with a pretty terrific life.

However, I had a major revelation while conducting my social media evaluation on the Harris County Public Library (HCPL) – when I look at the HCPL Facebook page I feel happy, included, welcome, inspired, informed, and part of a community.  How strange?  Why would I feel more comfort and enjoyment with an institution than with my own friends?  Well, it is in the public Facebook page’s best interest to be welcoming, informative, humorous and engaging.  And HCPL’s page is all of those things.  The public Facebook page is like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – it wants us to like it, it needs us to like it.  Through Facebook, HCPL tells me things I want to know, asks for my thoughts, connects with me through our shared love of books and libraries, and always invites me to the party.  Who wouldn’t “Like” a friend like that?

  1.  Moira Burke ran a longitudinal study of 1,200 Facebook users to examine the effects of Facebook over time.

Marche, S. (2012, May).  Is Facebook making us lonely?.  The Atlantic Monthly, 309(4), 60-69