Social Network Profile Management

Here are my notes (mostly coherent) from one of the sessions I attended at Computers In Libraries 2009.

Four member panel discussed different ways and strategies for managing your social network profiles.  This was a good session.  The topic is relevant to me and to the library if we decide to begin using social networking tools.  Each speaker had 5 minutes to speak then the session was opened to questions.  There is a good write up of this session at the electriclibrarian blog.

The first speaker was Greg Schwartz.  He began his segment by discussing identity.  A brief definition of identity:  What I say about me.  What others say about me.  You do not own/control your online ID…but you can influence it.  Here are his four suggestions for influencing your online ID.           

  1. Own your username.  Pick a name that represents you, is relatively professional and hopefully unique and stick with it (use it on all the social sites you sign up with).  A handy site for checking the availability of your username is www.checkusernames.com.
  2. Join the conversation.  Participate in the network you have joined.  Make friends, follow people, comment when/where appropriate.
  3. Listen.  Set up a twitter search and google alerts for your username.  When someone mentions you/your username you will be notified.  You can respond as you see fit.
  4. Be authentic/real.  Don’t be institutional or try to be someone other than yourself.  People will see through it. 

Amanda Clay Powers was next.  She began by stating that people have been telling stories forever and that social networking is just another way to tell your story.  Creating your identity is tied to managing your information.  Libraries can help manage people their identity by helping them manage their information.  We can educate about what they are doing and teach them the best way to manage their information.  An example is helping people who are setting up a social network profile with the privacy settings.

The third presenter was Sarah Houghton-Jan  and she had some tips for setting up an institutional social network profile. 

  1. Have a uniform username.  Try to use the same name across all of the social networks your library participates in. 
  2. Use a uniform, generic email address when signing up for social networks.  You want to do this so more than one person can log in and (most importantly) if the person who sets up the account leaves the username/log on information doesn’t leave with him/her.
  3. Make sure your profile information is current.  NO information is better than having wrong information.
  4. When people comment or ask you a question reply quickly.  You using social networks to listen to and engage the community so if you don’t reply then you are not helping your library.
  5. Be personal not institutional in tone.  Social networks are not a forum for press releases. 
  6. Be open to everyone.  If someone across the country wants to friend/follow you, let him/her.  

Realize that there is a time commitment to any social network you sign the library up for.  Who keeps the information up to date?  She recommends spreading the responsibility around so one person is the only one responsible for your online presence.  

The final presenter was Michael Porter.  His mission for this presentation was to give personal examples of do’s and don’ts for social networks.  Hilarity ensued.  His point was to be personal/real but be careful what you post especially when you are representing your institution/library. 

There was some time for questions and answers at the end of their presentations.  I can’t remember all of the questions but the one I do remember had to do with keeping your professional and personal lives separate online.  All four panel members agreed that it is difficult to do and maybe impossible if you are really being genuine online.  Eventually a blend of personal and professional will emerge.

Some other notes can be found at these sites:

Librarian in black

Hurst Associates

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