Look Who’s Talkin’: A Brand Monitoring Assignment

San Jose Public Library

Look  Who’s Talkin’: A Brand Monitoring Assignment

Introducing SJPL.org: Users welcome!

In November 2010, the San Jose Public Library launched a brand new website.  While the Librarian in Black does a great job summarizing the main features of the site, it is important to highlight the main goals for the new website: to have dynamic content that changes as new things become relevant, to give patrons the opportunity to comment on nearly everything (without Library moderation), and to give every single staff member the ability to create and share information through blog posts.  In achieving these goals, the San Jose Public Library hopes to create and foster an online conversation centered on the library.

Because the new SJPL website has been the center of attention at many library webinars and conferences, being honored for its “user centered web design,” I wanted to take the opportunity to conduct brand monitoring research to see how effective their online presence is with the San Jose, CA community and beyond.  In conducting this research it is important to note that I am examining the SJPL system as a whole (not as individual branches) and that I am looking for both internal (Library generated) mentions of SJPL as well as external (patron/visitor generated) mentions of SJPL.  In this process, I monitored the following site:  Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook using the search term “San Jose Public Library” consistently throughout.  For the blogs, I looked for specific mentions of the new SJPL website.  For Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, I examined the ways in which the online conversation was created and maintained as an extension of the “commenting” idea promoted through the new website.  I used Google Reader for blog updates and the Search functions for Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.  The data observed goes back to the launch of the website in November 2010.

Blogging: An Equal Opportunity Library

The first step in my brand monitoring process was to examine what is being said about the new SJPL.org in the blogosphere.  I also wanted to pay particular attention to the frequency and type of comments being left on blogs both externally and internally.

The Librarian in Black, an employee of SJPL at the time of the new website launch, offered many succinct blog posts about the implementation and execution of this new online “location.”  One particular blog post had over 15 comments connected to it.  After closer examination, many of these comments seemed to be from fellow Librarians in different Library systems.  The conversations were mostly pleasant, and full of complements on the new design.  There were some questions about what software was used (Drupal), as well as more technical questions about servers and linking mechanisms.

Other bloggers not associated with SJPL, like the Swiss Army Librarian and The Proverbial Lone Wolf’s Librarian offer their own opinions of the website (all positive) as well as links to the SJPL website, and a screen shot of the new homepage

When it came to searching the internal blogs, I decided to look at the frequency (or lack thereof) of patron submitted comments to staff written blogs.  The Library has an extensive array of blogs on the site.  However, the patron commentary was very minimal.  This makes me question the desire for patrons to be able to comment on everything.  Maybe patrons who use the online services are simply lurkers that feel more comfortable watching from a distance as opposed to jumping in full force and constantly participating.

The comments I did find were nested on the Downloadable blog.  This was interesting to me, as it suggests just how popular the topic of e-books and other electronic devices are becoming, especially in libraries.  There were also a few comments left on the blog that the Director posted regarding the launch of the new website.  While many patrons were thrilled with the new design, one patron was very upset and noted that the design of the new site was “flawed”, “”incoherent” and “not horrible by any means, but…not a site to aspire to either.” Even though this comment is highly negative, there are two important things to note here:  First, the Library chooses to leave it up, despite its negative connotation in an effort to create an “open” online environment, and second, Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Library’s Digital Futures Manager actually responded to the comment with professionalism, suggesting:

“If you have specific suggestions to make to us, you are welcome to email the Digital Futures team at SJPLDigitalFutures@sjlibrary.org. We’d love the chance to talk to you!”

While there may not be as many comments as one would expect, it is clear that SJPL has the right approach and follow-through to support user participation on their new website.  I look forward to checking back in to see if participation has increased.

Twitter:  Where are the Tweets?

The next place I looked for mentions of the San Jose Public Library was http://www.search.twitter.com.  I first looked externally, trying to find out what other people were saying about SJPL on their personal twitters.  I was also hoping to find conversations between SJPL and its patrons.  After doing a search for “San Jose Public Library,” I was disappointed to see that most of the mentions of SJPL were simply Re-Tweets of SJPL, or links to SJPL blog posts.  There were no personal anecdotes from fans of the library, and sadly, no questions being asked directly to SJPL, or comments mentioning @sanjoselibrary.

I honestly expected a more lively Twitter conversation from such a large library with so many patrons and such top of the line technology and staff.  However, after visiting the internal Twitter page I immediately understood why there was this “lack” of dialogue.  As you can see, the @sanjoselibrary feed is mostly used for promoting events and services:

I searched the Twitter feed all the way back to November 1, 2011 (a few days before the launch of the new website) and did not see one instance of the @sanjoselibrary asking a question or trying to engage a conversation with their patrons.  All of the tweets, while informative and creative were basically news pieces that were pushed out to their followers.

This suggests to me that SJPL is using Twitter as a way to deliver information to their patrons, rather than a “community building” tool.  This supports their efforts to promote the website as place where patrons can discuss, connect, evaluate and experience the library.  While I understand the direction they seem to be going, I would like to suggest that Twitter is a less “daunting” place to leave comments or ask questions than a library homepage.  Maybe if they started engaging their patrons in conversation via Twitter, they would have a stronger commenting audience on their Library website and blogs than they currently have.

Flickr:  If a Picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words do you get with 4,154 pictures?

The San Jose Public Library has a VERY active Flickr page.  Not only do they have over 4,000 photos on the site, but some sets on Flickr have had over 17,500 views. Incredible!

Internally, the Library does a great job uploading content, organizing them into sets, and collections for easy browsing purposes.  They even have video content such as this Video tour of the stacks after the 2007 earthquake that received over 3,000 views!  Many of the photos have received comments from users, and all photos have an extensive list of Tags associated with the photo, making it easy for patrons, and/or interested persons to find exactly the picture they are looking for.  I was very impressed with the time and dedication SJPL has allotted to their Flickr Stream.

When I searched for external uploads of the SJPL from patrons or other guests, I was pleased to see that many patrons, visitors and other community organizations in the San Jose, CA area were uploading their own content.  For example, many people seem fascinated with the architecture and overall layout of SJPL (and who wouldn’t be, it’s so cool)  and have posted their own pictures of the building, the library stacks, the common areas, etc.

Because there seems to be such a genuine interest in media revolving around SJPL, it makes me wonder why they have not incorporated more photos and videos into the Library website.  Perhaps if they had a section to highlight new photos, video on their homepage, and used Flickr as an archiving site, they could get more people talking, uploading and sharing on the actual website.  This activity might help increase the commenting function on their blogs.  Whatever they choose to do, they certainly should be proud of the content they have contributed to Flickr.

Facebook—Where the people are

The last place I decided to conduct my brand monitoring research was on Facebook.  This should have been my first stop because this was where all the action was!  The San Jose Public Library Facebook Page has 656 “likes” and employs a number of “tabs” on their page like their Twitter Stream, Photos, Catalog Search and a tab designated for promotions of specific events.  However, the most interesting part of the page was the Wall.  On the Facebook Wall, SJPL posts pictures, asks questions, tells stories and promotes their upcoming events and services.  As you can see, each post seems to have a number of “likes” and pretty significant comments from their followers:

Reading these posts on Facebook is where I truly felt a connection between SJPL and its patrons.  I think other libraries have a lot to learn from this page as far as what types of questions to ask, how frequently to post and how to add engaging content.

Externally, there were quite a few mentions of SJPL too—most of them revolving around the upcoming Battle of the Bands contest:

This not only shows what a popular event Battle of the Bands is at SJPL, but also gives great insight into the fact that teens feel comfortable using Facebook as a way to connect with and even promote the Library.  This piece of evidence should be very valuable to those in charge of creating an online presence at their individual libraries.

To conclude, it is clear that SJPL has put in significant effort and has made great strides in creating a strong online presence with their patrons and beyond.  While there are certainly areas that could use more patron interaction (Twitter, internal blogs, etc), there are a number of areas that should be considered exemplary (Flickr, Facebook).  Perhaps if SJPL were able to integrate some of the features of Flickr (photo and video) and Faceboko (“liking” posts) onto their website, they might encourage different demographics and attract a wider range of people to comment on, and connect with information and messages that the Library presents.  Overall the chatter surrounding the SJPL is positive, constructive and interesting.  There is much to be learned from the technological innovations and new directions San Jose Public Library is willing to explore.

Welcome to the San Jose Public Library: Get to know “the King”

In November 2010, the San Jose Public Library launched a new website. While the Librarian in Black does a great job summarizing the main features of the site, it is important to highlight the main goals for the new website: to have dynamic content that changes as new things become relevant, to give patrons the opportunity to comment on nearly everything (without Library moderation), and to give every single staff member the ability to create and share information through blog posts. In achieving these goals, the San Jose Public Library hopes to create and foster an online conversation centered on the library.

Because the new SJPL website has been the center of attention at many library webinars and conferences, being honored for its “user centered web design,” I wanted to take the opportunity to conduct brand monitoring research to see how effective their online presence is with the San Jose, CA community and beyond. In conducting this research it is important to note that I am examining the SJPL system as a whole (not as individual branches) and that I am looking for both internal (Library generated) mentions of SJPL as well as external (patron/visitor generated) mentions of SJPL. In this process, I monitored the following site: Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook using the search term “San Jose Public Library” constantly throughout. I used Google Reader for blog updates and the Search functions for Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. The data observed goes back to the launch of the website in November 2010.

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    • Mieko Fujiura
    • March 15th, 2011

    Hey, Allison! Interesting look into San Jose! I’m finding the same thing with my library, too – they tend to treat it as an information delivery tool rather than an interaction tool. Instead of re-tweets, though, I’ve found that a number external tweets about the library are Foursquare posts, which would be a perfect way to interact!

    As long as I’ve been familiar with the San Jose library, I’ve considered it to be very 2.0 savvy (esp. since the LIB worked there), so it will be interesting to see how their social networking feeds develop!

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