>intranet librarian Darlene Fichter (University of Saskatchewan)
With Jeff Wisniewski (University of Pittsburgh)
Social Media Metrics:
Making the Case for Making the Effort
AN intranet librarian’s work is never done. Just when you think you can
stop and pat yourself on the back for a job well-done, something else
surfaces. This time it’s social media. Think Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, library
blogs, and wikis.
“ As libraries across
the board become
Although discussions about the importance of libraries being active in social
media abound, analysis on how to define and measure success is scant. Most of
what we have is anecdotal. As libraries across the board become more attuned,
by desire or necessity, to the importance of assessment, we should turn the same
critical eye to our social media efforts. How important are friends or fans, RSS
subscribers and social bookmarking faves? What’s the conversation about your
library or institution? Is there one? Is it good or bad?
In a previous column (May/June 2007), we looked at steps libraries should take
by desire or to optimize their sites for social media. Some ways to measure success include
necessity, to the • You’ve made it easy to link to any page of the library site.
• Your library is visible in social media searches on custom search engines
(such as Technorati and Bloglines).
• Library programs and materials are frequently included in relevant posts on
blogs, podcasts, and vlogs.
assessment, we • You’re tracking your library’s reputation by monitoring “stars” or “scars,”
with stars revealing positive aspects of the library and scars revealing
should turn the where it’s gone wrong.
If you’re tempted to discount social media conversations and links to your
same critical eye
library, look at evidence from Edelman demonstrating their major impact. The
2008 Edelman Trust Barometer study (www.edelman.com/trust/2008/trust
to our social barometer08_final.pdf ) found that people in Brazil, Canada, Germany, the
Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. trust information about companies if
media efforts. it comes from “a person like me.” Comcast saw a real dip in customer satisfaction
scores after the amplification of customer complaints, particularly the YouTube
video of a technician asleep on a customer’s couch. Complaints and bad news
travel quickly. Libraries are not immune. Like companies, libraries need to mon-
itor customer complaints and respond to them.
Search engines are also paying attention to social media.
Google, by default, presents users mixed search results,
integrating Web, Image, Video, News, Blog, and other verti-
cal search results into one page of relevant information.
Ranking results for any particular topic are influenced by a
presence in social media. A Google search for Denver Public
Library, for example, yields a link to the library itself, a link
to a highly rated YouTube video produced by the library, and
links to the library’s Wikipedia and MySpace pages. Denver
Public Library dominates the first page of Google search
results in large part because of its social media activity. But
it goes deeper than just presence.
An August 2007 editorial in Search Engine Journal
ence-on-search-engine-ranking/5576) discusses the Google
and Yahoo! trend to assign higher rankings based not upon
simple presence in social media (though of course that’s nec-
essary and relevant) but on social media voting. Recent
patent applications by Yahoo! and Google detail ways to alter
ranking algorithms based upon, for example, the number of
times an article is bookmarked, an indicator of popularity.
Quality, then, is being redefined to not only take into consid-
eration popularity with other content producers (think
Google’s page rank) but also popularity with end user