This week the Cam23 juggernaut, rather inevitably, parks up at Facebook (or fb if you’re ‘down with the kids’ as I so obviously am!) Was there a time when I didn’t know what it was? Probably, but it was surely many centuries ago. Although I’m a firm believer in the blurring of personal and professional boundaries, something that is actively necessitated by true engagement with social media, I do draw the line with Facebook because I have made a conscious effort not to use it professionally. My other rule is not to accept friend requests from people I work with because I do very occasionally use it as a place to sound off to friends and family, along the lines of “Kirsty’s being a total bitch today” (joke!). Having said all that I’m not really using it anymore, except for the occasional status update and photo album. My interest and the interest of my fb friends is very evidently on the wane. My theory is that this has more to do with the unending stream of Farmville and Mafia Wars than with all that privacy controversy. Twitter is the other culprit. It is – for the moment anyway – the place to be and I think its going to hit the zeitgeist for a while longer.
However, walk about any academic library in the UK, including mine, and the most frequently open application is still Facebook not Twitter. It is for this reason that we persist with our Judge Library Facebook Group in the hope that we can get in the eyeline of our fb-focused users and every now and then get them to click through to library updates and our collection of database and open web links. We’re not exactly assisted in this by Facebook’s ridiculously restrictive architecture which is barely customisable and prevents us from prioritising and showing off the resources we want them to use. Despite this major problem, I well remember the moment when Claudia, who maintains our fb content first passed me our fb stats. To my complete surprise it turned out that the pages were being used and fairly extensively, proving that our efforts in that direction were worth it after all.
We currently have 155 fans (two of them don’t count as one is my mum and another my little sister – thanks guys) so that’s 153 fans (I got my Maths GCSE). Of those around 32 are active in any one week – that’s 20%. OK, so that’s not startlingly high but it means that after becoming fans a fifth return regularly. However, we have no way of knowing if they are the same 32. Now on to the more interesting stat: we average around 300 unique visits a week. This is anyone visiting the page, not restricted to fans, and we assume must include JBS library users who have not signed up due the ignominy of being a fan. Remember my concern that our fb users weren’t getting to the places we wanted to take them, namely the ‘Boxes’ section where all the good stuff is – link to our portal, Newton, new books, Delicious links etc – well that section is getting 65% of use compared to only 33% use of the rather useless ‘Wall’. It seems that users can make their way to the information after all.
So in conclusion, we’ll persevere with fb for the time being as a library, but I feel sure that my own personal use will continue to drop off. About to post this when I saw this BBC news item about fb reaching the 500 million users mark. Not quite dead yet then.
[Images courtesy of Crackbook]