I have been wondering if the academic library I work at should have a Facebook page. We currently have zero input on our website, but with LibGuides we have been able to create some content. Patrons view the guides, but no one has commented on them, so we still don’t have an interactive web presence. The students in our computer lab are always on Facebook, and it seems like a good idea to go where our patrons are.
Davis Library at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a Facebook page. The page is used to advertise sales and trainings, ask patrons for their preferences, make announcements that the online resources are temporarily unavailable, etc. While these posts are not drawing a lot of comments, I get the idea that the library wants to have a popular Facebook page. It even states on the information page: “We’re experimenting with this Facebook page. What would you use it for? What resources would be useful to have here?” It is a good idea to get student input on the potential uses for the Facebook page; however, the question asking students for input is not posted on the wall, therefore making it unlikely that the students will post answers. There are 1,259 people who like this page, 22 are talking about it, and 1,085 “were here.” Students are looking at the page, but there is very little activity on the wall.
The Wellesley College Library also has a Facebook page, and it is even less alive than the Davis Library page. Only 629 people like it, 7 are talking about it, and 54 “were here.” The wall is used to advertise library activities, but there is no evidence of interaction on the wall.
Hennepin County Library has a Facebook page with 6,305 people who like it and 112 people talking about it. The posts on the wall are a combination of library announcements and patron comments. For example, a patron asks a question about the garden on the roof, and a library employee gave a detailed answer about sustainability. Also, a patron wrote a very positive comment thanking the library for Freegal. This library has a much more active and therefore effective page than both Davis Library and the Wellesley College Library.
It’s not clear why one library Facebook page is more successful than another. Of these three libraries, it is the public library that is most successful, and that surprises me. College students love Facebook, so why aren’t the academic library Facebook pages more successful? I wonder if college students have so many Facebook friends to keep up with that they don’t have much time or desire to keep up with a library Facebook page. Or could it be that the Hennepin County Library has promoted their Facebook page more effectively?
Ultimately, the wall is the essence of a successful page because that’s where interaction takes place. Regardless of how many people like your page, if the wall is dead, then the entire Facebook page is dead.
My friend owns a wholesale and online children’s clothing company based in Albuquerque, NM. They are proud to be a socially conscious company; for example, they use organic materials and contract with manufacturers that demonstrate fair labor practices.
They maintain a Facebook page as their main form of social media and use it to promote their sales; people who are Facebook friends of the company get to shop the sales early. They had many postings in the month of December to advertise warehouse sales and booths at local holiday shopping events. Otherwise, they seem to post about three or four times per month. They “like” customer comments which demonstrates that they are monitoring them, but they only respond to some of the customer questions. For example, there is a customer comment that complains about the price of shipping that goes unanswered. They also post encouragement to their Facebook friends to patronize the retail stores that stock their products.
A search for the company on Social Mention reveals not only some of the comments that people are making about the company but also which form of social media they are using to make the comments. Some people use Twitter to Tweet photos of products and links to products on Amazon.com. There are several reviews on Amazon of the products, and while the ratings are high, there are a few comments that could possibly be addressed, such as comments about colors not being exactly the same as portrayed in the catalogs and snaps that might come off the garments. The company does not respond to these comments.
While the company does not maintain a blog, the search on Social Mention revealed that there are many people who are mentioning the company in their blogs. One interesting blog post (http://mysentimentexactlee.com/2012/01/kiwi-industries-bert-and-ernie-tee-review-giveaway/) begins by raving about the products and then about the company itself. Then, the blog post explains the rules of a contest in which participants can enter a drawing by visiting the company’s website and then posting on the My Sentiment Exactlee blog a clothing item that they like. Because the prize is clothing from the company, presumably only people who like the products enter the contest, ensuring that all the comments are positive. Contestants can earn extra entries in the drawing by commenting on a MySentimentExactLee blog post, liking both the company and MySentimentExactLee on their Facebook pages, follow MySentimentExactLee on Twitter and Tweeting about the contest, and/or following the blog either through RSS or email subscription. These contest rules are an amazing way to draw attention, gain exposure, and elicit lots of positive comments for both the blog and the company. At the end of the blog post, there is this comment: “I received media sample. All opinions are my own.” It seems that perhaps my friend’s company does not need to maintain their own blog because other people are doing the blogging for them.
My friend’s company is small with only five people. Other than the Facebook page, they are not active in social media, possibly because social media can be so time-consuming. My friend recognizes that they probably should monitor what is being said on social media about the company, but as expected, they do not have enough time. Their target market is hip, socially conscious young parents, and I imagine that market is extremely techno-savvy. However, young parents are likely to be busy and exhausted (young children being even more time-consuming than social media is). Given this fact, Twitter would probably be a better choice of marketing tool than Facebook or blogging due to the ease of receiving Tweets even when you are busy. At first, it seems that social media is an effective and cheap way for small business owners to advertise. However, despite the power of social media to reach their target market, if the company employees are too strapped for time to maintain an active social media presence, it really isn’t a viable option.