Social Media and Information Retrieval

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how information is retrieved from social media applications. Given the sheer volume of information that’s being produced even as I type this post, it can feel overwhelming even to keep up with the relatively small number of blogs and feeds I follow daily. One of the issues is that, while I might find something interesting, I may not have a context or need for that particular piece of information at the moment, and it quickly disappears from view. Given the explosion of search tools for managing social media, I suspect I’m not the only one with this problem. Being able to retrieve things at point of need is becoming increasingly essential, and increasingly difficult. I recently took a more in-depth look at the search engine Social Mention, but there are tons of these tools out there, like Who’s Talkin, Technorati, and Samepoint. Do you use any of these tools? What are your favourites?


To Share is to Learn: Upcoming presentation to HLABC

Here is a sneak peek of the presentation slides for the talk that Dean, Amy and I will be giving to the Health Libraries Association of British Columbia (HLABC) on Thursday, October 21. We hope to see you there!

Social media use in European libraries

I came across a nice Slideshare today, which reports the results of an EBSCO survey given to subscribers in Europe. I’ve embedded the slides and transcribed some highlights below:

Perception of Social Media:

  • 15% Very positive
  • 47% Positive
  • 32% Somewhat positive
  • 06% Somewhat negative
  • 00% Negative
  • 00% Very Negative

It struck a nice chord with me that no one was “negative” or “very negative” anymore. So to a certain extent, the trajectory is going in the right direction. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but we’re getting somewhere.

Main reasons for not using Social Media

  • Difficult to control (spam, negative publicity) – 38%
  • Takes too much time to maintain – 37%
  • Low interest of users – 31%
  • Information security – 31%
  • Restrictive internal organisation policies – 28%
  • Confidentiality issues – 26%

Time is always an issue. It is hard to slot social media into an already busy schedule of programming, and equally hard to argue that time spent on social media is as effective as any other form of outreach. But given the growing percentages of positive feelings above, maybe this will become less of a roadblock soon.

The response “low interest of users” is interesting because I question how the survey respondents know… some may have designed surveys of their own, but still more perhaps “just know?” a feeling which we see in many different contexts as often misleading or too conservative. Consumers, customers and patrons of all kinds sometimes simply don’t know what they want until it’s available. Now, I’m not advocating for forcing libraries into social media if they’ve done the math and decided it’s not for them. But there is something to trying and seeing if there’s an unexpected response.

I wonder if the results will be consistent in Canada when Dean gets through with his upcoming work. I, for one, am looking forward to finding out!