Tag Archives: Student entries

Pin it!

I have been hearing/reading about Pintrest for awhile, but when I first checked it out, I was put off from joining because it required a Facebook or Twitter account, neither of which I had or was interested in starting. However, I decided that this course provided too good an opportunity to pass up, particularly as I had to open a Facebook account for a course last semester. And even better, you can now join Pintrest with just an e-mail address rather than needing another kind of account. It’s going to take a lot more playing before I feel like I have really gained any kind of mastery that would make me any kind of expert. However, I have been having a great time thus far and have learned a lot.


I had been particularly intrigued because there were a number of interesting articles that I’ve found that talk about the ways that Pintrest can be used to further your career, improve the success of your job search, etc. I’ve shared a couple of those on the general discussion board in D2L, but here are some of the “highlights” as I see them.

From How Pintrest Can Hep Boost Your Career:

  • “The social aspect of Pinterest comes into play when Pinners browse each other’s pinboards or search for specific types of Pins. Pinners can find inspiration, share their interests and connect with like-minded people. According to the Pinterest mission statement, the company believes that “a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people.”
  • Pinterest’s rising popularity proves it as a new alternative for connecting people around the world based on shared tastes, styles and interests. For January of 2012, Pinterest’s percentage of total referral traffic matched Twitter and surpassed other popular content-sharing sites like YouTube, Google+, Reddit, MySpace, and LinkedIn.”
  • “The sharing aspect of Pinterest makes it a great way to collaborate and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents.”
  • “For any professional organization, Pinterest is an important social media tool that can be used to communicate, educate and create some buzz.”


These things all paint a picture of a very dynamic and creative way to use technology and social media to build and maintain a network and to showcase who you are, what you have done and can do.  However, I would imagine that one of the challenges in something like this would be to effectively draw lines between personal and professional pins and presence. In your job search, it is generally necessary to use your name rather than an online pseudonym to identify your work.


Therefore, the question becomes how you highlight the things with which you have been involved professionally, while still maintaining your personal boards if they are also under your name. It is possible to chose what you share with others – thus, you can do things like start looking at information about pregnancy, babies, etc., before telling people that you are expecting, but sometimes you want to share things personally that you aren’t sharing at work. And there is not so much space to explain why you have pinned something, so it could be easily misinterpreted. The pregnancy/baby subject being a particularly apt one for this discussion – you might be personally pinning pregnancy and baby things because you have a sister/friend/etc. who is expecting and you are sharing with her, however, a prospective employer won’t know that and might make assumptions that you will be immediately taking maternity leave, etc.  The trick is that you have to be vigilant about applying limits as to who can access the things that you have pinned.


I think that for libraries and other information institutions, Pintrest can provide some great opportunities because while each pin serves as a link to something else, they tend to be more graphic and dynamic looking than links in Facebook generally appear. Things that you might pin include information about legislation that will affect libraries; information about book awards; past, present and future programs; and information about books on a staff pick lists or recent releases from popular authors or on popular subjects, etc. While the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” stands, one of the reasons that libraries and bookstores create displays is because people often pick up books with intriguing covers (based on graphic, title or both). If you pin something about a book, you would generally be showing the book cover, which is, in effect, creating a digital display. Pintrest can also be used very effectively if an institution has an archive, a strong collection of older documents/maps/books/etc., or the tendency to create exhibitions.


There are severe weaknesses in the social media presence of the institution for which I’m creating my social media plan. However, one thing being done successfully is that they have started to use Pintrest well. They showcase some of the great things available in the archives and highlighting their exhibits, etc. However, they fail to effectively link the Pintrest account to their website, instead, they are linked to the blog that features images. A blog that is separate from the website, but not effectively highlighted. In this way, they fail to maximize their reach and effectiveness. These are things that I am going to be focusing on in the social media plan (along with the use of some other technologies to expand their audience, reaching the audiences that they purport to be most interested in growing).


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

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)

Twitter – Super Bowl, Librarians, Oreos – Oh My!

For this week’s post I was originally going to write only about Twitter.  But then last night, for the first time, I watched my Twitter feed while watching a major, live television event – The Super Bowl – and found it to be a very enlightening lesson in the power of social media.

So first an introduction to Twitter.  Twitter is a microblogging social network.   Basically, it is communicating in short form, or to be more specific, 140 characters or less.  Twitter is accessible via its website – www.twitter.com – and also via mobile apps and SMS (Short Message Service).   Users can follow other users which means they are subscribing to receive their tweets.  Once you follow another user their tweets will show up in your feed as they are added.  Hashtags (pound sign #) used in front of a keyword or phrase will allow topics or conversations to be easily searched or followed, i.e. #libraryjobs, #edchat (education chat), #nerdybookclub.  The @ sign used before a user’s name will allow a message to be directed to another user or flag that user that their name was used in a tweet, i.e. @andersoncooper. 

In April 2009, Ashton Kutcher became the first user of Twitter to have more than 1,000,000 followers.  Do you remember hearing about that milestone?  I do.  Now the leading Tweeter is Justin Bieber with 33,952,441 followers as of this posting.  According to twittercounter.com the top 10 twitter users with the most followers are: 1.) Justin Bieber, 2.) Lady Gaga, 3.) Katy Perry, 4.) Rihanna, 5.) Barack Obama, 6.) Britney Spears, 7.) Taylor Swift, 8.) YouTube, 9.) Shakira, and 10.) Kim Kardashian.   I do think the celebrity aspect of Twitter is what made some people, including myself, initially dismiss Twitter as just a narcissistic venue for babble and self-promotion; however now with over 200 million active users from all walks of life, I see it as a valuable forum for getting and sharing information and learning about new products (like books) and ideas (ways to teach information literacy).  It also has great value as a tool for promotion, customer outreach, and conversation which is why I think it is a great choice of social media for libraries. 

So last night while watching the Super Bowl I decided to access my Twitter feed to see what people were talking about – the commercials, the game, whatever.  I follow mostly random librarians and educators with a few celebrities, mostly comedians (Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Jimmy Fallon), authors (Raina Telgemeier, Sherman Alexie), and business gurus (Daniel Pink, Seth Godin) for good measure.  Anyway, I turned to my feed to see what people were talking about. 

So the chat starts off with comments about the game, but overall the tweets were about the commercials (Steve Martin – “I didn’t realize there would be commercials”; Judd Apatow – “In London they show no commercials.  How will I know what to buy?”) with librarians particularly interested in the Oreo commercial 


(Teri Lesesne – “Librarians divided over Oreo commercial.  Stereotype? Or Super?” and Abby Johnson – “Okay, a commercial about destroying a library is not funny!!!!”)  

Some of the tweets were amusing, some were mundane, but they were entertaining nonetheless because as Sarah Beth Durst tweeted, “I do love watching TV and Twitter at the same time.  It’s like having a Superbowl party with friends except I don’t have to share snacks.”  And then… the lights went out.  Now there’s really something to tweet about.  But here’s where I saw the true power of Twitter.  First of all to begin with most of the chat was about the commercials not the game so right there advertisers are getting more bang for their buck.  But then Oreo did something that I thought was truly inspired – they created an immediate instant ad in response to the Super Bowl blackout and tweeted it. 

The tweet read:  Power out? No problem.  https://twitter.com/Oreo/status/298246571718483968/photo/1

Now, I only follow 47 people and Oreo isn’t one of them (although it is THE BEST COOKIE EVER), yet I received this tweet and twitpic and it made a very positive impression on me. 

So, I’ve already got Oreos on my mind because of their televised commercial and all the twitter chat surrounding it that targeted an industry I’m interested in.  With their commercial, Oreo also utilized social media by urging viewers to vote for Cookie or Cream on Instagram.  Then this spur of the moment tweet shows up – it’s timely, it’s clever, and it’s really cool that they could turn it around so fast.  This tells me that the people behind Oreos are quick thinking, organized, creative, hip, smart and want to engage me. This experience just drove home the power of social media when done right.