It was lunchtime, I was hungry, and Michael Porter from WebJunction was projecting graphic photos of his bloody hand.
“You: The Online Version” was presented by Porter (aka LibraryMan) as part of last week’s Library Technology Conference at Macalester College. The presentation sought to address online identity management, but doubled as a bizarre and wonderful romp through LibraryMan land. What I like best about Porter is that he’s just so weird. And in his presentation, he really emphasized that it’s OK to be weird online, too — as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
Be polite & kind
DON’T (as an institution):
Use random strange usernames
Register with individual emails
Have outdated profiles
Reply to users slowly or not at all
Use an institutional tone
Selectively “friend” people
Be scared — it’s ok not to be perfect!
Porter also spent a fair amount of time discussing Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Social Media Optimization (SMO). Are these really acronyms that you will find elsewhere? I can’t vouch for that, but I will say that they look nice in a power point presentation. So: to protect your institution’s online reputation, make sure you respond — either publicly or privately, but very directly — when you get negative feedback. And in terms of social media optimization, just shoot for increasing your linkability: use “add” buttons (to del.icio.us, facebook, etc); reuse content in multiple venues (twitter, facebook, flickr, wordpress, etc); make tagging and bookmarking easy; and provide options for interaction, such as comments. And encourage the mashup — allow others use your work & ideas, within reason.
Ultimately, Porter encourages us just to be expressive and show our personalities; to do things that we like and then share them. For instance: Photoshop yourself with a bunch of Pez dispensers and a superhero t-shirt, and then post it to your blog! (Guess who actually did that? Hint: it rhymes with “FibraryMan.”) If you’re already doing hard work, then repurpose it — send it out into the Internets where you can get more value out of it. Yet, he cautions, online personas do take staff time. Is it an institutional priority? If so, then make sure you are supporting it.
Porter wrapped up his talk by showing us what not to do with social networking tools… by doing it for us at the presentation! Yes, be yourself — but be careful too. Otherwise you could end up seeing tweets like this one making the cyber rounds:
“OMG, LibraryMan just put up a naked picture of himself!”
It was actually just half-naked.
(click here to see more links for LibTech 2010)