Tag Archives: Social network

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?


Authors and Libraries on Tumblr

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Tumblr,as I’m sure many of its users do. As stated on the Tumblr community guidelines page, Tumblr “celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, witness, and believe.”  The website was created in February 2007 and currently hosts an estimated 93.1 million blogs, including the blogs of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.

I have recently returned to using Tumblr after a year hiatus. The site can become overwhelming.  Your Dashboard shows every post that has been posted by you and the users that you follow since you last visited the site in an endless scroll.  This means that if you follow 20 people who post often and don’t visit the site for several hours, you likely have hundreds of new posts to view.  It doesn’t help that a lot of posts can be childish jokes or just a picture of that one actor in that one movie, and OMG isn’t he hot?

But the other side of Tumblr can actually be a great place for authors to connect with their fanbase.  For instance, I follow John Green, author of young adult novels and a youtube star, on Tumblr.  John Green is a master at using social media to connect with his fanbase.  On Tumblr, he answers fan questions, reblogs fantastic fanart based on his books, and post random things that he finds funny with added commentary written by him.  All of these actions serve to help his fans feel like they are important and that he appreciate them.

I feel that this is a model that more authors, especially young adult and children’s authors, should follow.  While most authors have their own website, it is more welcoming to young fans to be able to get to know their favorite authors via a social forum they already use, such as Tumblr, which is much more interactive than the usual author website.

Libraries can also reach out to the younger generation this way, by posting book recommendations and trivia.  It would also be a good forum for the library to get ideas on what programs and events people want to see at their local library.  It would be good to see the slower world of books and libraries get caught up in the faster pop-culture world of Tumblr.



(Here’s a link in which John green talks about how Tumblr connected him to fans on 2 different continents to collaborate on making a poster based on of his books a reality: http://youtu.be/tHp3c9ziIq0)

Expanding Your Social Network

With some social media platforms, it’s relatively easy to expand your social network. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, can extend invitations to every email address in your contacts list with just the click of a button. From there you can easily go about extending your network by adding friends of friends or by searching for people by name. Once a connection has been made, information can be transmitted back and forth.

Yet, how do you get more followers on Twitter? Or readers of your blog? With these social media formats, expanding your network is not so easy. On Twitter, you can start following any one in the whole world, but that doesn’t mean that they will follow you. Take, for example, our media savvy president. @BarackObama has 26,889,672 followers. How many people does he follow? 666,185. @sjsuslis, by contrast, has 995 followers, but follows only 186. In each case, there is nothing like the parity of connections between Facebook or LinkedIn users.

To return to the questions above, there are many strategies for gaining a following. Perhaps the easiest method is to be famous already. For most of us, we’ll have to work at it the hard way. Above all, that means creating good content, stuff that people will want to read. We will also have to engage with other bloggers and Twitter users.

In the blogosphere, that could mean leaving your own comments on someone else’s blog. Or it could mean linking to someone else’s blog from your own, in what is called a pingback. You can also simply “like” a blog.

It’s interesting to notice how some blogs are much better at encouraging and facilitating discussion than others. The Scholarly Kitchen, which is concerned with academic publishing, has a thriving community and multiple authors. Many of its posts attract dozens of comments and its authors stay in the conversation by responding to them. The British Library’s Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog, however, rarely attracts comments. It seems to be more interested in providing pretty manuscript illuminations from its collections than in nurturing dialogue.

In the twitterverse, engagement often begins by following more than by being followed. With a steady stream of tweets on your home page, you could then choose to comment by including someone’s Twitter handle in your tweet, Or you could retweet or favorite something that you find interesting or worth spreading about.

The more you blog and tweet, the more likely people will be able to find you. Also, another useful strategy is to link your various social media accounts together, for example, by installing a Twitter widget to your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or blog feed.

Implementing these strategies might take enormous amounts of time, but the rewards can be great. You might find the job of your dreams or land a six-figure book contract!

— Barnaby Hughes