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Professional Side of Social Networking

Aug - 18 - 2009
Nicole C. Engard

My husband and I just had a discussion about how many social networking sites may have started out as fun sites, but they have become used for more and more professional purposes over time. One example is Twitter. We were all sold Twitter as a way to say what we’re doing in 140 characters or less – and it is still that – but now it’s a way for businesses to reach out to their customers. Today I wrote to Twitter that my Internet was down. Not long after my ISP sent a message asking what they could do to help. There was nothing he could do – since it was just a large outage in my area (which I found out by calling in and asking), but still, he was able to connect with me in a way that businesses and vendors haven’t been able to in the past.

My husband said that while he still is no fan of the interface for Facebook, he now sees it as a great tool to keep up with people and products he’s a fan of – the idea of Facebook pages and becoming a fan was something he found on his own and now brings him to Facebook much more than ever before.

twittersearches

I think we need to take these lessons and get our libraries and library services out there – we need to generate searches for our library and location names so that we can quickly answer questions from our patrons and potential customers. Show the people that we’re around and can answer their questions. One way to do this is to take advantage of the search menu on the right hand side of Twitter (once you’re logged in). Type your search and save it – search for abbreviated versions of your library name, your library name, your town name, and any reference subjects you’re proficient in and see what happens when you answer people’s questions.

4 Responses so far.

  1. I agree wholeheartedly — since it’s so easy for megacorps to see a stream of who’s talking (and kvetching) about their brand, it’s just as easy to pinpoint and coax the disgruntled to feel a little shinyhappy with a few tweets. While the medium continues on its trend towards commonplace, companies are trying to figure out ways to connect with the negative tweeters. It’s brilliant, but not likely scalable. When 3,000 are negatweeting rather than 30, it may be harder for the ‘associate VP for social media’ to make fuller connections, but in the mean time, we can gather the benefits of a socially attuned megacorp eye-of-twitter.

  2. Is this sort of microblog-PR a new form of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” rather than treating all your customers fairly as standard? When does treating high-profile community leaders better cross the line into “astroturfing” or “paying for fake grassroots support”?

  3. Nicole says:

    I’ve always been a squeaky wheel :)

    I don’t know for sure what you’re trying to say – but I’m certainly not suggesting that we stop providing amazing services in our libraries. I’m saying we can provide even more services if we get online and use new tools. I’m saying that people think libraries are old-fashioned and out of touch, we should show them that we’re not – and that we can answer their questions no matter how they want to ask them.

  4. Magnus says:

    And it’s possible to use Booleans in Twitter searches, so you can search for e.g. “abbreviated versions of your library name OR your library name” in one search and save some time.


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