Tag Archives: libraries

Facebook Insights 2015 : Measuring What You Post and Audience Engagement

main page of fb fan page analytics

Facebook Fan Page Insights revisited

If they can’t see it will they come?

While I have never been a champion of Facebook as the ultimate source of outreach for libraries, I have always loved it is an informal way to reach students in an immediate manner. In the way way back days of Facebook and Myspace, I would reach students via groups and eventually the “Page”. After the mass exodus from Myspace to Facebook the fan page became the preferred method of interaction. I enjoyed thinking of new and creative ways to keep fans entertained and informed. In those salad days of the fan page, I knew I was reaching everyone who “liked” the page and could see basic statistics of who was viewing content. As Helene Blowers noted in Computers in Libraries (2012), engagement is measured by reach and influence. She astutely observed Facebook Insights as the most cost-effective way for libraries to measure these two levels of engagement.

Flash forward to the rising popularity of Facebook Pages and the establishment of corporate social media strategies. The increase in companies willing to pay for visibility on Facebook has turned out to be a mixed blessing. On one hand it lures organizations with the promise of reaching thousands of potential users, while at the same time placing unexplained limits on the “reach” of posts and appearances in timelines (unless you pay). Each attempt at engagement is unnaturally limited and basically ensures that in no way shape or form will you ever reach all of your fans who have liked your page.

While increasing reach has become more and more of a struggle for Page admins, the latest version of Insights coupled with the current News Feed algorithm holds promise. Facebook invested a significant amount of time improving Page Insights. The current algorithm makes it possible to appear in more timelines without paying for placement.  There is a great increase in the ability for administrators of Pages to analyze the level of engagement created amongst users based upon factors such as time of day fans are online, high performing posts and conversely posts which have had negative feedback. Understanding the latest version of audience metrics and post algorithm can help libraries leverage Facebook to increase awareness of services.

Nailing Honey to the Bee

Since Facebook is notorious for changing algorithms and interfaces without notice, it is useful to monitor Facebook modifications by following pages such as BufferSocial and Wisemetrics . Additionally, Facebook responded to criticism from businesses and created a Facebook for Business blog specifically for announcing any changes. Kevan Lee of BufferSocial gives an explicit list of criteria Facebook values to rank posts. I am including the ones most relevant to libraries. The current algorithm favors posts with lots of likes and/or comments. Format plays an important role in placement as photos, videos and media have a higher ranking. I was surprised to learn posts which tag other pages, reference trending topics or contain external links are more likely to appear in News Feeds. Furthermore, rankings are measured by amount of time it takes for multiple likes or comments. In an effort to dissuade spammers or repeat ads, the algorithm rewards the promotion of original content and links that are not already posted numerous times on the site.

As of December 19, 2014, Facebook introduced yet another edition of Insights. This version provides valuable data in an intuitive format. While most labels existed in previous iterations of the metrics, the level of analysis provides a better representation of fan activity. You’ll find this change will make it easier for libraries to gain more insight (pun intended) into what is or isn’t working. Learning how to analyze the data available in the new Insights will directly impact your visibility on user News Feeds.

Golden Rules of Audience Engagement

Over the many years since Facebook Pages were first created, there has been a standard set of rules of engagement for anyone who markets using social media. Engagement is not a precise science but most experts agree certain types of posts lead to the most number of likes and a larger reach. Lets examine some of the golden rules of audience engagement and how the News Feed algorithm and Insights can be employed to improve Page performance.

 User Generated Content: In an age of social media celebrity, individuals love to have their content retweeted, regrammed or reblogged. User content in a variety of formats is easily found via hashtags.  Mining sites like Yik Yak and Twitter to find additional mentions of the library will yield additional content.

performance by type

Performance of Posts by Type

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: This is directly related to the algorithm which emphasizes graphical and new content. The more engaging and interesting the image, the more likely it is to be seen. To measure the impact, Facebook insights has an option to see which posts perform best by type. This can give actual data on how well students receive specific types of media, if they click on the post and can determine which type of post to replicate in the future.

Keep Content Fresh: A starting point for generating content has been gleaning the campus and library calendar to find annual or semi-annual events. Developing regular features in a calendar cycle in a variety of formats will keep posts interesting and current. Nothing hurts a page more than dormancy especially with the algorithm settings. 

Post Reach Analyitics

Post Reach comparison

There is a fine line between posting too little and posting too much. A key indicator of posting too frequently is a mass exodus of “unsubscribes”. Not posting enough is easily measured by the drops in views on your page. It is important to recognize the “cleaning house” college students are likely to engage in during the beginning and end of the academic year. Graduation and retention should be accounted for when looking at the number of users who leave your library fan page so you don’t attribute the departures to a specific post.

likes and shares in FB Insights

You can now see your likes and shares and comments in a variety of graphs with clickable links directly to posts/dates etc.

Net Likes on Facebook Insights

Each point along this graph is clickable to see even more details about which milisecond your page was liked or unliked

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: Incorporating content found on sister campus pages can increase visibility (linking to other pages) Insights measure the response to content on your most and least liked posts. The “Reach” and “Engagement” tabs are helpful to gauge post frequency. Examine the time your fans are online (as opposed to the generic guides of “when to post” found all over the internet). It will give you data to compare to your posts from previous periods. Another new feature allows you identify similar pages to “compare post performance” to benchmark your post success.

screenshot of Facebook Insights- top posts from pages you watch

Adding other library pages (especially ones that are more popular than your own) can help determine your marketing strategy on Facebook

Initiate Interaction: Feedback encourages more comments which increases the chance a post will show up in a feed. Questions don’t always have to be library service related. One of the most popular posts on our Library page was a request for feedback about our 24/7 library hours during finals. Another way to increase likes and shares is to integrate humor. See this Craigslist ad posted as an image on our page (below). 

popular post on the Library home page

One of our highest and most influential posts. Notice Insights now provide a section entitled “Negative Feedback”

Implications for Algorithm and Insights: Students love images, funnies, and questions. This post combines all and as a result was one of our top performing posts for the semester. To evaluate your success take a look at the data for individual posts. What is nice about the current version of Insights is the direct link between unlikes- hides or likes. (Perhaps I am a fatalist but I am always a little paranoid one wrong post will result in a flurry of “unlikes” or “hide all post”.)

Implications for Measuring Engagement

I expect the latest version of insights to finally link the use of Facebook fan pages to substantive data which will help libraries pinpoint what services to market. It will also determine what type of posts yield the best results. The answers for some libraries may be surprising. While it will not directly relate the usage of library services with marketing on Facebook, it takes us one step closer to doing just that. While conducting research for this post, I found a plethora of advice on organic (read: FREE) ways to increase visibility on Facebook. Stephane Allard of Wisemetrics.com advises posting the same content more than once as it will increase reach with very little overlap. However, as of January 2015, Facebook will downgrade repeat posts which may make this particular approach ineffective. I think libraries can take advantage of the algorithm in other ways. One method is to coordinate with other campus social media sites (Facebook likes links to other pages), blend content from other social media sites like Vine, Youtube and Instagram (Facebook likes media saturated posts), mine user generated content (Facebook likes unique subject matter) and finally, pay attention to the trending topics on Facebook and include in posts as appropriate.

Additionally, Facebook announced the addition of “Call to Action” buttons which allows fans to sign up for a variety of features: Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game,  Shop Now, Sign Up, and Watch Video. It will be interesting to see how these features can be incorporated to drive fans to library services.


gratuitous chance to mention my fetish for spiked heels

The internet is saturated with posts discussing the best way for libraries to create a social media presence but rarely address measuring the concrete impact on library usage. Is all the time and energy we spend developing content for Facebook time well spent? Perhaps using the tools Facebook freely provides will give us a satisfactory answer. I just dream of the day when university libraries show up on a  student Facebook home page like Zappos does on mine after I oggle shoes online.

Addendum: After this month, I will pass the torch onto our new Social Media Group (Gabe Gardner, Cynthia M. Orozco and Chloe Pasqual) who have been responsible for creating our other social media profiles and astutely snagging content from Twitter and Yik Yak. 


Information Literacy + Service Learning = Social Change (WLIC Lyon 2014)

In the evolution of information literacy from a competency based set of standards to one that is more holistic and reflects current trends in higher education, it is critical to evaluate the role of information literacy in social change. One of the key purposes of a university is not only to help students gain critical thinking and applied skills for the workplace but also to instill a sense of responsibility and desire to make a difference in the world around them. More than just focusing on data collection, it is important for academic libraries to, “shift our thinking to include affective (emotional) learning outcomes that address self-efficacy, student confidence, attitudes, motivation, and valuing what is being learned.” (ACRL Standard Review ACRL AC12 Doc 13.1). These key areas are all embodied within the learning outcomes of a service learning curriculum. The focus of this paper is two-fold: to examine how information literacy complements a service learning focused curriculum and how service learning projects can be embedded in any course regardless of the discipline.

Full Conference Paper Available in the IFLA repository: http://library.ifla.org/1058/

Boring Library Screencasts meet GoAnimate: The intersection between information literacy and humor

In my quest for using new technologies to convey library concepts I started integrating GoAnimate (www.goanimate.com) with Camtasia video captures. This is my first attempt. More info soon!

IFLA 2011: Slides for presentations

I had a wonderful time at both the satellite meeting in Havana Cuba and at the full conference in San Juan Puerto Rico. Many thanks to the IFLA Social Science Libraries Section and Library Theory and Research Section with Statistics and Evaluation for allowing me the pleasure of attending my first IFLA Conference. Please find both my presentation slides. While my co-presenters were unable to join me, they are equally responsible for the ideas and content- many thanks to  Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Aaron Tay. Handouts and link to other materials will be added soon.

Edupunk goes mobile: Mobile library sites with zero budget

one of my DIY shirts from High School

DIY aesthetic

As a kid I loved punk rock and had no money. So I spent my time making t-shirts based on album covers or gig flyers that I meticulously taped around my teen girl bedroom. Perhaps this is why the concept of edupunk appealed to me and has become my approach to librarianship and instruction for the last couple of years. Basically, edupunk is “an approach to teaching and learning practices that result from a do it yourself (DIY) attitude.”(Wikipedia) Thus it was only natural that when I can’t get something done by traditional means, I will just make it myself. I recently presented my latest DIY project at the Mobile Computing Interest group during ALA Midwinter in San Diego. The following is a fleshed-out version of my brief presentation.

The original album cover Agnostic Front Cause for Alarm

Mobile services and libraries

In 2007, a study funded by JISC found that sophisticated learners use personal technologies (PDAs, Mobile Phones etc) to enhance their learning (JISC, 2007). With the increase in smartphone ownership by students and faculty there is an expectation for libraries to have a mobile presence to support educational needs. While many libraries have created pages to link to basic services, options for the mobile learner have been absent thus far. Recent findings regarding use of mobile phones, access to information, and information-seeking behavior bolster the argument for creating mobile access points to library content as well.

Pew Research reported that 87% of blacks and Hispanics own a cell phone and “take advantage of a much wider array of their phones’ data functions compared to white cell phone owners” (Pew 2010). With such a large population of mobile users relying on phones for internet access, it is important for libraries to offer content in a mobile-friendly format. For teens, the numbers are an even more significant indication of this need, with 65% of mobile users accessing the internet, and 40% watching videos on their phone (Pew 2010). Both of these findings illustrate anecdotally that mobile users may be served well with access to library instruction and content for point-of-need use.

Mobile Über Alles

Library Journal recently conducted a survey of mobile sites and libraries. Unsurprisingly, 65% of academic libraries said they had or planned to have a mobile web presence. What was surprising, conversely, was how few actually had a mobile site available. The reasons given for not currently offering mobile services included budget, priorities, skills and perceptions (Carlucci Thomas 2010). These barriers ring true for many libraries, especially in the wake of severe budget cuts and staff overload.

While I have a great academic technology department at my institution, they do not have the time or people to experiment with emerging technologies, especially if the need is not a priority of the organization. As a result, I often experiment with low-cost alternatives and propose more formal changes once I have evidence of success. This is how I began playing around with low-cost mobile site alternatives.

For the last couple of years, I have been aware of libraries developing apps or mobile sites. It wasn’t until I started to use a smart device regularly that I saw the true need for this format. As an end user with a mobile phone, it is often a matter of convenience to locate general information such as book availability, phone numbers, or other questions usually answered by our library website. Nothing was more frustrating than having to navigate the tiny fonts and layout to get to the information I needed (usually urgently). I am sure others have had similar experiences. Thus, it is not earth-shattering that when blogger Aaron Tay studied mobile library pages, he found that most sites contained very basic library information designed for on-the-go needs (Tay 2010).

Very few libraries, with the exception of the medical library at Yale, Duke University, Penn State and Rice incorporate instruction and content into their mobile sites. With the popularity of apps like Wikipedia, IMDB, and various news outlets, there is definitely a proclivity for users to seek content via smart phones when an information need arises. This sentiment is echoed by Joan Lippincott, who advocated for the access of mobile reference materials and even development of research guides by discipline for a variety of just-in-time use (Lippincott, 2008).

Or Not…

The libraries that have developed mobile sites have reported little use of their pages, which leads to the inevitable discussion of whether the return on investment is worth the effort of diving into mobile access. Lukas Koster studied usage of mobile services and came to the conclusion that students don’t use library links on their mobile phone other than typical key services and therefore, libraries shouldn’t bother with mobile sites or apps. Lukas Koster states, “there is no future for providing mobile access on smartphones to traditional library content in digital form: electronic articles and books”(Koster 2010). This is shortsighted thinking and doesn’t consider the everyday information needs increasingly being met by searching apps or web browsers via mobile phones. With the growth of databases and catalogs in a mobile-ready format, I foresee an increase in usage as patron awareness grows. A bookmarked library page may become the link that gets used more often especially if it provides links to a variety of information sources that students are used to getting via the traditional web. Likewise, point-of-need information like instructions and video tutorials can be easily viewed on a mobile device while the user simultaneously performs the function on a computer. Using a free and simple tool to test this premise can help determine if investing in a full-scale mobile site with enhanced links to instructional content is a worthwhile endeavor.

While it’s not expected that students will read entire journal articles on their phones (until content is as mobile-friendly as interfaces), the ability to search for an article mentioned in class and email the link to view later can be useful now.

DIY for the win

One of the main barriers identified by the Library Journal survey was a lack of skill. Carlucci (2010) found, “Survey responses also pointed to a lack of technical expertise among existing staff as a barrier to development. Specifically, respondents report a ‘lack of staff who can do the necessary setup.’” It makes sense, therefore, to use an edupunk approach to mobile interface design to meet the short-term needs of students: why not use tools that are mobile-friendly and freely available on the internet? It eliminates the need for programming skills, especially since these companies routinely adjust for newer screen sizes and features available across platforms; sites like WordPress will modify pages for new browsers and anticipate changes in technology that may improve the mobile experience. By letting the professionals handle the technical side, librarians can focus on developing content. While any free blog site that is mobile ready will work for a DIY site, I examined two of the most popular platforms use by libraries.

The first platform I began to experiment with is LibGuides. While it is not free tool, so many libraries use this product that it can be a “free” mobile platform for those with accounts. Springshare has always created LibGuide pages that will automatically detect mobile browsers, however recently, they have moved towards developing more robust tools to construct pages primarily for mobile use. This choice for mobile site building is also ideal since it’s already integrated with many libraries’ subject guides. The ability to see and answer poll questions from the mobile site also allows for use of phones as clickers if one wanted to expand the use of the mobile site for instruction. Overall, if you have a current subscription, it will be easy to create a mobile site with no additional cost other than development. For an example of a fully developed mobile Libguide page please see: College of North Atlantic-Qatar Mobile Page (updated link per comments 2/3/11)

The second option is the commercial (free) version of WordPress, with the mobile detection formatting enabled. The embedded slide presentation shows screen shots of the mobile page on the fly using WordPress. I just created pages for navigation and pasted information directly from my library home page. This page took about an hour to create, with only minor formatting changes required. Using the both the WSWYG/HTML editors, I created this page with no plug-ins or advanced features.

Of course, these basic pages in both LibGuides and WordPress can be modified by adding icons and resizing text to fit mobile screens better and the creation of buttons, etc. But for a quick and dirty mobile presence, it was painless and my students can use it during the spring semester.

Designing for learning

I divided the content for my mobile page into two categories. The first one links to general information usually found on all mobile library sites. The second was a set of links for mobile learning. How useful are research tools on a tiny mobile format? How often will students use a database app or instruction tutorials? While there hasn’t yet been an empirical study of the use of mobile apps and mobile databases published, I think the offering of these services creates a value-added purpose to the library mobile services. It is my hope that instructional options on mobile library sites will eventually become as useful for students as the current Google and Wikipedia apps.

Mobile services for instruction

The beauty of a mobile site for libraries is the ability to have increased access to point-of-need instructional materials beyond the key sources that students often need for general use of the library. To move from a service-oriented site to one for learning, I added links to instructional tools I use in their desktop format. I agree with Aaron Tay, who advocates for more linking to mobile-ready tools currently used by libraries. While libraries have linked to their social media accounts, they have not linked to instructional resources, such as videos and slides. I included links to instructional videos from the library YouTube page, Slideshare to view class presentations, poll questions (LibGuides), and Scribd to follow instructions. This spring, I will be encouraging students in my large lecture courses to follow my presentation on their phones if they don’t have their laptops.

To ensure easy access to the mobile-friendly site, class handouts will have a QR code link to the site as well as a direct link from the library “quicklinks” box on my LibGuides. I will be collecting assessment data from page statistics.


The most obvious limitation is the redundancy of maintaining two pages. However, if the platform is LibGuides it will remain relatively static (hours are entered for the entire year and librarians have permanent phone numbers) and the proxy links will be updated centrally, so the workload should not be too overwhelming. Access may also be an issue if students don’t know the library has a mobile version. But as I stated before, this is my short-term solution to what I see as a need that should and can be easily filled. Of the two platforms, I prefer the ease of WordPress. LibGuides has had more formatting issues as some of the boxes don’t allow you to change font size. WordPress was more flexible but had the added disadvantage of not being housed on your server (if using the free version). Writing a grant or working with the university to develop a proper mobile web presence is definitely the preferred method for creating a permanent site. But until then, I will follow the immortal words of Frank Sinatra as sung by Sid Vicious: MY Way.


Carlucci Thomas, L.(2010) Gone mobile? (Mobile Libraries Survey 2010) Library Journal Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/ljinprintcurrentissue/886987-403/gone_mobile_mobile_libraries_survey.html.csp

Edupunk. Retrieved from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edupunk

Exploring the learner’s perspective on e-learning: In their own words (JISC, 2007) Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/intheirownwords

Koster, L. (December 2010) Do we need mobile library services? Not really” Retrieved from http://commonplace.net/2010/12/do-we-need-mobile-library-services/

Lippincott, J. K. (2008). Mobile technologies, mobile users: Implications for academic libraries. ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues & Actions, (261), 1-4.

Smith, A. (2010). Pew Internet: Mobile Access 2010. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Mobile-Access-2010.aspx

Tay, A. (April 2010) What are mobile friendly library sites offering? A survey. Retrieved from http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2010/04/comparison-of-40-mobile-library-sites.html