James started by asking the question: what is social networking? Being librarians we didn’t fall into his trap and start listing networks like Facebook etc. The audience said communication and conversation. Which James pointed out is really a very old thing such as talking down the pub or playing golf with the right people or attending a book group.
He moved on to discuss our place within social networks and how a person’s definition of a library tended to focus around the physical building rather than the resources. James definitely pushed the idea of moving into the users space rather than asking users to come to us. One example he used was Twitter. Worryingly he said that he had not seen Twitter used well by a single public library in the UK. He challenged us to take people up on Twitter questions like “someone recommend me a book”. If they were filtered to certain geographical ranges then local librarians could try and answer that question. To engage with both library users and non-users and put the library back into people’s minds.
James responded to several shocked librarians who asked about his declaration that no library was using Twitter well to say that he didn’t feel libraries were really doing engagement through Twitter. He felt it was being used just as a broadcast medium when really you need to converse with people and create a discussion to build loyalty and create advocates.
Next up was Google plus. James apologised for the brief introduction but explained that this was brand new and was going to solve a problem they had been working on for some time through the new “circles” and “hangouts”. This was my first introduction to Google + and I have to say, cheesy video aside, it did look fun with skype type conversations taking place with groups. He suggested that it could be more popular than Facebook with some people, especially with the growing lack of trust around Facebook and privacy.
Finally James encouraged us to think about innovation in delivery. To put ourselves in the place of the consumer/user and think how we would want it to be around us. What would we want the service to provide?