This video’s been making the rounds, and with good cause:
First off, Andy Woodworth rocks for putting that question out there in the first place. Woodworth’s been talking about this stuff for a while, and the spontaneous interview Librarian JP conducted with him at ALA 2010 is well worth a watch. He discusses the impact social media has had on word-of-mouth advertising, and how that can be used as a vector for advocacy.
That insight is reflected in the story behind those wonderful Old Spice videos. Seriously, this entire endeavor makes me giddy: the nigh-improvisational nature of the writing, the triage of questions to determine which responses would resonate most out in the digital wilds, practical political advice, and even the inclusion of comic book references. The only way it could hit more of my geek buttons would be if dice were involved.
(Note: if they did make a D&D-related video and I missed it, please link it in a comment. Please.)
My own “everything looks like a nail” take on this is that, again, the digital reflects the physical but works on a different scale. How many times do we find ourselves, as librarians, reaching out specifically to patrons that we know have influence within our constituencies? In academic libraries, this can mean promoting a new service to key faculty so they can, in turn, advocate it to their colleagues. Knowing, of course, that if the faculty are talking about a service then the word will get to groups like the administration and the student body in turn.
Applying this to our libraries’ forays into social media can only lead to better experiences in that field. Woodworth talks in military terms in the video above, quoting the aphorism, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Continuing in that vein, here’s the long version of a famous Sun Tzu quote:
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
All too often, library social media strategies fall into the third category, with even the most successful being best described by the second. Taking to time to know more about the folks on the receiving end of our social media marketing can go a long way to making it more successful. It works for us outside of social media, and the Old Spice folks showed us how well it can work within that sphere.
As a profession, we need to stop throwing pigeons, jump on that giraffe, and earn that monocle smile.