Since my early days practicing public relations, I’ve been a fan of Columbus Business First. I worked with the newspaper’s advertising consultants on campaigns, collaborated with publisher Don DePerro and marketing director Melissa Price on special events like the Fast 50, and received almost 150 freelance writing assignments from its editorial staff. I was especially grateful for the honor of being named one of Business First’s Forty Under 40 award recipients in 1997.
So when I heard that Business First was hosting a Social Media Summer Camp Expo, I looked forward to the opportunity not only to learn more about new social media products and services, but also to see Don and Melissa again.
Attendees came to Hilliard’s Makoy Center to converse with companies like Fahlgren Mortine, Mills James, Webbed Marketing, and the ePolicy Institute about how a business can develop and execute a social media plan. Thanks to a handout Fahlgren Mortine provided on tips for social media etiquette, I learned that social web interactions should follow the 70/20/10 formula: Add valuable content 70 percent of the time; participate and engage with others 20 percent of the time; and directly promote business 10 percent of the time.
I especially benefited from learning how the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the OCLC Usability Lab are employing clever ways to help people discover information.
Mike Prasse, lead user experience researcher and manager of the OCLC Usability Lab, shared how usability software, eye-tracking devices and digital recording capabilities allow organizations to discover where website users look and where they get bogged down in discovering information online. Eye-tracking hardware and software allows for real-time discovery of the exact spot focus groups of test subjects view while completing a task on a PC. Color-coded “fixations” reveal how successful users are in finding information on a website. Red fixations can point to origins of confusion in the information-discovery process, while yellow and green fixations reveal when a test subject has an easier time of it. Post-test analyses can reveal which areas of the screen were viewed, and for how long, indicating the best places to post important messages on a web page. The usability lab can be a fascinating stop on an OCLC tour, which Mike and Bob Murphy, his colleague in OCLC Public Relations, will gladly provide.
At the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s table, Barbara Beardsley, a librarian in the Science, Business & News department of Main Library, demonstrated how to use the Digital Downloads feature of the library’s website in accessing downloadable books about social media. Entering a valid CML library card number allows a free two-week download of a book to a PC. Use the keywords “CML Suggests Social Media Marketing” for a search of the library’s online catalog to view lists of books suggested by librarians.
Julie Theado told me how she plans what CML posts to Facebook and Twitter. Sharing personal stories about branches, branch managers, and donors to the CML Foundation on Facebook was an important part of the library’s last levy campaign. The library’s “Who Knew Wednesday” tweets come from questions asked in calls placed through the library’s information line. On Friday, CML tweets staff book picks and invites followers to share what they’re reading. On Tuesday, September 6, between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., CML librarian Jennifer Hrusch (@LibraryJennifer) will host a Twitter-based book chat about books of our academic past; join her at #CMLbookchat.