Represent

There are some things that companies and organizations do with their social networking presence that make me batty. Perhaps a few of these things annoy you too? Here are my rules for managing an organization’s social media presence–just in case any of those types care what I think. They should–I may have money to spend some day.

Content Management

Social networking sites are not to be used as a substitute for your company’s website.

If I see that your website is four months out if date, then I tend to think that something might be wrong with your company. Is it still in existence? Is everyone too busy? Do they not care? Suggestion: Facebook can pull in feeds from blogs. Post official news to your company’s blog and Facebook will automatically add that post to your company’s wall. Going a step further, Facebook can be set up to cross-post to Twitter. Much of the dissemination of your company’s official news can be automated.

Content managers: it’s good to keep in mind that your company will always own the content that is posted on the company’s server. Sure, it’s easy for people to loot content appearing on your website but at least you aren’t legally surrendering your rights to your company’s videos by posting them on Facebook. Post the videos on your site and then post a link to the relevant webpage onto Facebook. Always consult the terms of service of a social networking site and understand what that site does with your content. Track changes to terms of service here.

Push unique content to each of your company’s social networking sites.

Some redundancy of information across a company’s website, blog, Facebook wall, and Twitter feed is inevitable. Be sure to give consumers a reason to subscribe to the your blog’s RSS feed AND like your company’s Facebook page AND follow you on Twitter by offering a unique experience in each arena. Example: here in Bloomington, Scholars Inn Bakehouse (@ScholarsInnBake) has daily specials that are only advertised on Twitter. Another example: every morning, Bloomington Bagel Company (@BBCBagel) Tweets the soup selection at each of their locations, while BBC’s Facebook page seems to be used for more general news.

Quality interaction

Interact with individuals who reach out to your company online.

Don’t be THAT company, you know, the one that posts information to its Facebook page or Twitter feed and then ignores any subsequent comments or replies. You CAN respond to people who comment on your company’s wall posts. This is not merely good web marketing, it is good manners. Since most people have instant access to Facebook and Twitter, they will often leave a complaint (or a compliment!) on these networks, rather than search out your homepage, find out how to contact you (far too often, this is a difficult feat!), and write up a formal letter/make a phone call. Respond to replies in timely fashion. Check your social networking sites’ notification settings and make sure that someone can be on hand most of the time to manage these consumer interactions.

Don’t spam your audience.

If you have to post the same event to everyone’s feeds four times in one week, please find four unique ways to do it.  Or better–only post twice in a week. I’ve witnessed the number of “likes” go down on a company’s Facebook page after a really aggressive week of in-your-face promotion. It’s easy to overwhelm a person’s Facebook feed. Example: I blocked the Library of Congress on Facebook because they routinely posted fifteen times a day, completely monopolizing my Facebook feed. These were fifteen unique posts, mind you but still, they were off-putting. This brings me to my next point:

Learn the difference between how people use Facebook and Twitter.

In the previous example, if the Library of Congress had made the same fifteen updates to Twitter, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Why? Because these networks are different beasts and people do not use them the same way. Think about it, have you ever tried to catch up on a couple days worth of Facebook posts? It’s obnoxious! Twitter is super easy to scan quickly.

In addition to frequency, be aware of immediacy. Don’t tweet those photos you snapped at least week’s film fest. It’s already ancient history (sometimes two hours ago seems like ancient history in Twitterverse). Instead, post those photos in an album on Facebook. Tweet at conferences, cons, etc. in the moment–and be sure to find out the correct hashtag to use in your Tweets so that others at the event can find you too. Facebook is a mix of immediacy (announcing the launch date of a new product) as well as legacy (a photo album of a recent event).

Am I the only one with these business social media pet peeves? I’m sure I’ve missed some.

Paper.li

Yesterday, I posted about a tool that lets you pull content from your WordPress.org blog, rearrange the content, add chapters, sections, etc. and publish the whole thing in an ePUB, PDF or TEI format. Too cool! Sure, you end up with duplicated content but people love choices. I don’t want to read your short story collection online on my phone. I want to read it on my iPad. If given the choice, I’d grab the PDF file and plunk it on my iPad rather than visit your site and clicking through your endless pages on your blog–an activity that is dependent upon having a wifi connection.

I happened upon another tool that represents information from a feed in a different, interesting and useful way. Paper.li pulls in content you specify from Twitter and outputs the results as a newspaper. To see examples of how organizations have used paper.li, check out implementations by GOOD and the Indiana University Bloomington Archives (on Twitter as @IUBArchives).

Hitchcock's The Birds Meets TwitterIt’s brilliant. As a user, I like the quick, easy-to-read Twitter feeds when I’m on the go but the newspaper layout certainly plays up to my inner news junkie. This tool also has a harmonizing affect upon the Twitterverse. Often, scrolling through Twitter updates is much akin to a standing in a crowd people who are shouting out you in 140 characters. The paper.li experience is customizable, typically built around a theme.  In this way, paper.li adds a little cohesion to the cacophony.

More can be found on paper.li’s blog.

Author Tools: Publishing from WordPress

Imagine you’re an author who uses your WordPress install to publish your work on your website. What if you wanted to export and distribute your blog posts–an anthology of short stories, research, or an image portfolio–as a PDF? Quite some time ago, I stumbled upon a WordPress plugin called Anthologize that does just that. It was discussed in a post at Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog. Here is an overview of what this plugin does, lifted from the Anthologize website:

Anthologize: grab, craft, publish.

Anthologize 0.5-alpha includes the following core features:

  • Use your existing WordPress blog content as the basis for your project;
  • Import content feeds from non-WordPress blogs and other publishing platforms;
  • Create a project containing one or more parts (chapters, acts, etc);
  • Add, update, remove, and reorder parts;
  • Add, update, remove, reorder, and merge individual items in parts;
  • Edit project items through standard WordPress editing interface;
  • Export your projects to: TEI, PDF, and ePUB.

It’s important to note that this plugin only works with WordPress 3.0 and PHP5 or higher and it only works on users installations (downloaded from wordpress.org and maintained on a server at a domain other than wordpress.com).

The possibilities created by this plugin are incredibly compelling to me. I’m a hardcore supporter of using WordPress as a CMS for websites. The ability to repurpose blog content into a ePUB, PDF or TEI file makes me a little giddy. I recommend looking at the case studies listed on the Anthologize website to get a better feel for how this tool might be used. My blogs don’t lend themselves well to this kind of tool but I can certainly see the usefulness of this tool for folks who want to distribute their own ebooks, generate exhibition catalogs, or create brochures and pamphlets about their company.

There’s quite a community built behind this plugin. The Center for History and Media and George Mason University developed this app with NEH funding. Some thought has gone into not just the documentation but the presentation of this plugin by way of logos and branding. It is evident that there is commitment from the developers to continue to shape this tool into a something special. The plugin was last updated a week ago today (I’ve known about the plugin since August).

I hope to give this plugin a try sometime.

Meanie

Ouch!  Just read a brief account of a very poor interaction with a circulation clerk that got me thinking.  You can read the story here.

Knee jerk reaction: shame on this staff member–and the librarian who supervises her1. Sure, circulation desk staff (who aren’t required to have an MLS, well enough a BA) aren’t trained in the nuances of the complete reference interview but come on!  I think we CAN expect customer service excellence–not to mention COMMON COURTESY–from every member of the library, whether branch director, circ clerk, or page.

Thinking about this more: those with the least amount of professional training often have the most amount of face time with patrons. Pages (usually teens) receive TONS of questions while they’re out on the floor shelving books.  There’s a good lesson in not neglecting basic training and development for these folks!

I worked as a circ clerk for about two years (in both adult and youth services) in a small public library. We face a lot of situations in which you are expected to act professionally: angry or violent patrons, inappropriate behavior. These types of interactions are upsetting for everyone but can usually be resolved with the aid of solid customer service training. Book ban requests are usually first received by the circulation staff. Depending upon who the patron is and how upset they are, these situations may require delicate maneuvering. Strong, clear policy and communication of that policy to staff are both crucial.

And now for a tangent: this last intellectual freedom aspect of circulation duties is what is most frustrating to me when I hear that schools are riffing or letting go of their media specialists and librarians and bringing in volunteers to man the desk. No disrespect to volunteers is meant here–these volunteers are, after all, keeping libraries open; however, they are not trained to handle matters of censorship. Caught up in the moment, a well-meaning volunteer may pull a challenged book or make promises to a parent that will foul up the review process later. It’s not just librarians who get worked up over banned books. Some parents don’t take to kindly to a complete stranger deciding that a book is too objectionable to be read by everyone else’s children.


1. I can almost guarantee that the person running this desk is not making librarian’s salary. The public, of course, lumps clerks and librarians into the catch-all “librarian” role. Continue reading.

Come for the shiny, stay for the…

Things that may help me write more:

  1. Only working 40 hours a week now. No 2nd job. Wahoo!
  2. Acquisition of a new shiny.

I’ve officially declared my 2003 HP laptop dead, after a number of resuscitations. I type at you now on an iPad. It IS an experience completely unlike typing on a laptop. I can’t recommend it for everyone. It does what I need it to do when I’m mobile. If I end up with a car after the divorce, I’ll look into a desktop solution to handle everything else, like running the Adobe suite and, you know, a DVD-ROM. That aside, the iPad takes zero time to boot and I can blog, edit wikis, tweak CSS, do the social web thing, read books and comics and watch streaming video. Did I mention that it’s shiny? I can check my hair in between meetings. Totally rad.

I haven’t been doing a lot of creative writing but I have been getting in some journaling. Most of it is self-therapy, private kind of scribbling, so it’s not showing up here. Hope to change that soon. A bit of my rantiness is coming back (Oh, HI, world. So sorry, I forgot you were there in my self-absorbed musings…), so at the very least I can start blogging again.

No new writing goals right now. I’m still adjusting to this my-weekends-are-free-now thing. I’m enjoying all of the possibilities for reinvention.