Tag Archives: google+

Is Google Plus really a Plus for Libraries?

Of the social media we’ve discussed so far in class among Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google +, the tool that most baffles me with its relative lack of popularity is Google +. And by lack of popularity I’m referring to its use by the public in general and libraries in particular. Although I’ve been using the Google suite of products for years now, and this used has increased substantially since starting at SLIS (especially Chat and Drive), I only set up my Google + profile on account of this course. Upon doing so, the cursory check of my contacts for possible addition to circles illustrated that it definitely hasn’t caught on as much as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This translates to the use of G+ by libraries as well, most of the library systems in my area have either a nonexistent page with few or no postings, the bare minimum of information, or don’t have a page set up at all. These are libraries who have a presence on Facebook or Pinterest, or both. Have they decided that Google + is just another social media tool that is one click too far?

As many of my fellow students have commented on, it seems that Google Plus just really hasn’t caught on, but a recent report by Global Web Index “benchmarks Google+ as the second largest social platform in the world.” The author of the posting goes on to state that the future is indeed bright for this platform, and that it has seen growth in user behaviors such as posting videos, comments, and links that surpass Facebook and Twitter. I’m inclined to believe that this is a social media tool that will continue to grow and its potential for library use as well. As a professional tool for librarians I’ve already seen that it surpasses Facebook for instance through the use of communities, one pertinent group being Libraries and Librarians, a “public community about libraries and librarians of all kinds, covering both local and global issues in librarianship.” With the wealth of tools at Google’s disposal, the use of circles to group people together of similar interests (and distribute specific and relevant information to them), the ability to have live Hangouts, all make me think that although use is currently minimal, libraries will have much to take advantage of in the future.

-Luis Salazar

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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?

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…

Google+, libraries and when to jump ship

I’m currently taking a class in Coursera, called E-Learning and Digital Cultures.  As an academic librarian, I’m always interested in how social media and digital technology in general can be used for teaching and learning and thought this class would be interesting to take alongside this one.  Last Friday, the professor’s for the course hosted a Google Hangout to discuss some of the learning material from Week 1.  It worked out quite well as a way to interact with a large (very large) student group synchronously online.  

I don’t really use Google Plus much.  In fact, I hardly been on there at all since I opened the account.  But it seems to be gaining in popularity and one of our course readings this past week predicted that more libraries will be opening a Google Plus accounts.

This has always been one of my issues with libraries using social media.  Well, not really an issue.  More like a nuisance.  As much as I love social media and advocate its use,  I have a hard time trying to determine when and if a library should think about migrating from one social media platform to another, or whether to maintain both or multiple.  Our library has a Facebook and a Twitter, but we’ve found that Facebook tends to have more interaction.  We’re not sure why or what it is, but the community where I live doesn’t seem to be very interested in using Twitter.  So, we’ve been discussing the idea of deleting the Twitter account altogether and focusing our interactions using Facebook.  Another thing we had to consider is that our campus as a whole (such as other departments…Student activities, Alumni Association, etc) have adopted Facebook but haven’t opened up Twitter accounts.  So there’s this sense that we have to be consistent with what everyone else is doing.  

One of the things I will be most interested in learning from this class is whether there is a way to identify when a library should jump ship to a different social media tool or when to consider using multiple tools.