I play around with a personal Foursquare account–partly because I enjoy experimenting with tech toys, partly because it is game-like (and I have fun with that), and partly in order to understand something about the service. I would like to be able to have an (at least somewhat) intelligent conversation should it ever come up in my information-consultant role as a librarian.
The other day I was checking-in on Foursquare at a business establishment in the city where I live and noticed an icon pointing me to a “nearby special offer.” I clicked the link to discover the following…
Here is a real-life example of a business where I live that is leveraging their presence on Foursquare to connect with existing/potential customers and draw their business. (For those who are not familiar with Foursquare, users check-in at venues with their mobile device and are awarded points and sometimes “badges” for reaching certain levels of activity. The person with the most check-ins at a venue at any given time is dubbed the “Mayor” of that location.)
So it goes like this: Visit McAlister’s (and enjoy a great meal) as many times as possible, check-in with Foursquare more than anyone else, and enjoy one of those great meals on the house. It’s incentive-filled. Friendly competitive. Simple.
Location-based social networking applications–like Foursquare, Gowalla, BrightKite, and Loopt–are seeing a growth in popularity. (RJMetrics tracks usage data for Foursquare and Gowalla.) Some in the business world have recognized this begun exploring ways to incorporate these social networking tools into their advertising strategy. Likewise, some of us in the library world are asking ourselves, “How can we use applications like Foursquare to connect with our users who are sporting mobile devices and enjoying a bent for social networking?” It’s not necessarily about new resources and services. It’s not even about the social networking app. It’s entirely about making connections–making our libraries relevant to users.
This topic has been discussed for some time and at some length among librarians. Cecily Walker (Vancouver Public Library) blogged about Foursquare and libraries. David Lee King (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library) wrote a post on the subject and then a follow-up post. Kyle Jones (contributor to the Tame the Web website) told of the Darien Library experiment with Foursquare and their library users. And Jenny Levine (The Shifted Librarian) shared her Foursquare “a-ha” moment with us. These are just a few examples.
Take a look at these two libraries on Foursquare:
- Pollak Library (California State University Fullerton)
Librarians, is your library using any of the location-based social networking sites to connect with your users? What kind of things are you doing? Are your efforts strengthening, enhancing, growing, etc. your connections to your users?
Library users, are you using location-based social networking sites like Foursquare? How would you like to see your library using these social networking sites to make special offers to you and have some fun along the way?
Yesterday I was checking my email and found a message from one of our library vendors, Gaylord Brothers, in my inbox. Nothing unusual. We get those all the time. It was for a sale promotion. Again, no surprises here. However, this particular email caught my attention because it was pointing me to the Gaylord Facebook fan page and a discount offer that is directly tied to their Facebook presence.
Become a fan and reap the benefits of an exclusive offer. That is building connections that can be fostered and enhanced. That is adding value.
Social networking, particularly Facebook, now permeates our everyday lives. (I know this is true because even my mother now has a Facebook account.) For anyone with a service to offer–a company, an organization, a library–social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are ripe platforms for bringing what you have to offer to customers, users, patrons, etc. We connect. We market. We bring value. We service. We all win.
If you are part of an organization and have something to offer, are you regularly using or experimenting with social networking sites to connect with people? If not, there is no better time than the present. Look at what others like you are doing with social networking. Create your own organizational account on one or two popular social networking sites and test the waters. If you are already using social networking, are you moving beyond connections to find ways of adding value to those connections? How can we not only stay in touch with people, letting them know what we have to offer, but also give them actual opportunities to make those connections worthwhile?
A few ideas:
- A giveaway for retweeting one of your tweets
- A special offer for the person with the most check-ins at your site with one of the location-based social networks
- Promoting your Facebook fan page as a place to ask questions on the spot
- For libraries: Sending a status update on Facebook or Twitter that offers a “library fine forgiveness” to the first X number of people who visit the library and mention the status update
Adding value to our social networking efforts. It’s in the game plan for our library this coming academic year.
John Kennerly...library director, technology dabbler, and information handler. More bio
- Good stuff here! RT @janholmquist: Librarians: Your Most Valuable MOOC Supporters shrd.by/zj16jD via @carl_grant @aarontay ~ 2 days ago
- @thelauracaskey For sure. Stop by the library if your ever in our neck of the woods again. ~ 2 days ago
- @thelauracaskey Didn't know you were here. Hate I missed seeing you. Go Fleet! ~ 2 days ago