Typically most libraries would offer
- Email (mailing lists?)
- Instant Message/Chat (e.g. MSN, meebo chat rooms or paid options like Libraryh3lp)
- Video-calls (e.g. Skype)
And of course these are just online tools without considering posters, LCD displays etc though these normally do not allow much feedback.
- volume of queries (ie acceptance by users)
- types of queries
- expected response times
- ease of conducting reference interviews
- some comparison with earlier communication channels (occasionally)
- the impact of starting one new communication channel on an existing one
- why users choose one communication channel (say chat vs email) when they want to contact the library
For instance, I read that Australia dropped the AskNow Chat Service in Dec 2010, citing "change in the information landscape since the launch of Ask Now in 2002. With the dominance of Google and social networking sites, there are many new ways people can engage with libraries." Not quite sure I buy that reason.
Some librarians have expressed to me a desire to be on as many channels as possible to serve all our users according to what they prefer and I can see the merit of that. For example, when troubleshooting issues I prefer using chat as opposed to phone because we have a shared phone and it's some distance from the PC and I can type as fast if not faster than I talk. While a colleague of mine prefers the phone.
Similarly, I'm sure many of our users also have their own preferences on how to engage the library.
Another question, I have being pondering for a while is, you have all these diverse channels, from Facebook, Twitter, email, LCD screens, posters, postings on library websites etc... which one do you use?
Recently our school term began, and we started to advertise our library orientation events. A interesting question to me was, which channels should we use?
I suppose the obvious thing would be to blanket all our channels. Would that be annoying? A mass email followed by the same news posted on Twitter , Facebook and blog? How many of our users both follow us on Twitter, like our facebook page and subscribe to the library blog?
Even if one were to blanket all our channels, how about timing of release? Do users expect the same news to be sent all the time at the same time?
Is it fair to privilege certain channels say Twitter and send the information there first? I can imagine this can possibility lead to howls of outrage and questions of equity would come into play particularly if we talking about a very popular but limited event. But then again, would it be useful to release everything at one go on all channels?
For instance, changes in opening hours are generally posted 1-2 weeks before it occurs, system maintenance of databases & websites anything up to a month in advance , would it be useful for the same information to be pumped onto Twitter & Facebook at the same time as it is posted on the website?
I have often found based on likes and retweets the best time to post such news on Twitter and facebook tends to be just the day before.
I don't have any answers as I don't know much about marketing, just musing aloud. Curious on how other libraries handle these issues.
Is there a centralized strategy on how and when each communication channel is used in your library? How do you decide what to use? Are you worried about duplication of efforts?