David Lee King, Digital Service Director, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and author of Face2Face (published by Information Today) said that we have embraced the social web as individuals, but not so much in the business world yet. We have the tools–a website, some social media–but we are not sure organizationally how to use them. Our customers are talking about us, taking photos, making recommendations, and sharing them, but what is missing is “face2face” interaction: real online connections with customers. Is that taking place online in your social media? In general, online engagement works through conversations in Twitter and Facebook accounts.
There are three ways to transform your library into a face2face library:
- Listening. You can be very purposeful. Why listen? To hear your customers’ conversations about you and so you can respond. Connect with customers and get a pulse. Listen for mentions of the library, service areas, who is saying something (especially local influencers to whom you should listen more closely), power users who have opinions, and where the conversation is occurring (if you are not there, maybe you need to have a presence too). Set up Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as Google Alerts. Respond if somebody is spreading wrong information, and thank people if they are favorable.
- Basic communication (online). Write conversationally in a “business casual” style. Sound friendly and professional. Remember that you are writing for your organization. Use casual language. Add pictures and video if possible. People love photos, which humanize a blog post, help your customers get to know the write and organization, and draw people into the conversation. Be informal; you are having a conversation! Keep videos short. Be “you” online, but remember you are still representing your organization. Photo suggestions: pictures of staff, new employees, customers. Never post photos of an empty building–wait until you are open and people are there.
- “Doing” community. We have customers who are communities, and we have the same thing online. We can interact with those communities. But remember that you have a little less control of your message when using social media because you are not in charge. Respond to critics. You will get opinions. Listen first, then wait and cool off, then admit and apologize. Be nice. Sometimes be quiet–you don’t always have to respond. Develop a thick skin. It’s a conversation, and everybody has an opinion.
Where to start: Ask for suggestions and ideas. Do a fill-in-the-blank post: people love to fill in forms. Set some goals and a strategy to meet them. Think about the type of content you want to share.
Figure out who will do the work in your library: who runs the Facebook page–what gets posted and when, content management, who friends people and who will you friend, who answers questions and responds to comments, etc? Make this part of a formal job description. Measure success using tools on the social media sites.
Creating great customer connections starts with you!