Thursday, May 13, 2010

Environment scanning for libraries - Facebook

In an earlier post ,  I talked about using Twitter, Google and other tools to scan for mentions by users of libraries online. I noted that Twitter in particular was effective due to its real time nature, and that unlike Google alerts, Twitter hits tend to be far more likely to be relevant, as the former often contained false hits, compared to a 140 character tweet which are more focused.

3 Techniques were suggested to find relevant tweets

1) Keyword match -e.g. NUS Library
2) Geolocation - e.g. Library near:National University of Singapore
3) Filtering based on person Tweeting - e.g. If user is following you and tweets about library, it's probably about you.

See earlier post for more details

Since then, I have refined my search terms to further improve accuracy (recall and precision in librarian speak), but in general that still remains my latest thoughts on the subject.

I've improved my technique slightly though for Facebook scans. As Facebook pushes their agenda to make status updates more public, more and more public data is available. The method I suggested in the earlier post I think can be improved, particularly after the launch of  Facebook Open Graph and a slew of other changes including Facebook’s connections and launching of community pages  (See post on implication for libraries)

 For one thing, Facebook's open graph API means a direct search of public Facebook content becomes a lot easier. Why rely on third party indexing by Google, Bing, Social Mention etc when you can directly query Facebook?

 Booshaka for instance is really effective. 

There's no RSS feed for this though which is a disadvantage as you can get all your other searches (Twitter & Google alerts) in RSS.  

 Open FaceBook search is similar , though they don't provide RSS feeds, they allow you to embed widgets for each search.

So if you use something like NetVibes, iGoogle, or even LibGuides for monitoring RSS feeds, you can use this as a widget (Use html widget).

Example below shows it in a unpublished LibGuides 

I suspect NetVibes, iGoogle is probably more suitable actually but I'm just testing. Besides this tab. I have one tab for RSS feeds of Twitter searches, one tab for RSS feeds of Google searches, one tab for RSS feeds of official library web 2.0 accounts (Blogs, Youtube, etc).

Essentially creating a information dashboard of the library's presence on the web.

At this point, I'm still undecided if this dashboard approach (using dynamic startup pages like Netvibes, iGoogles, even LibGuides) is better compared to putting everything in a straight RSS feed reader, particularly Google Reader. The former is better for viewing, but the later is better for long term perservation I think. But in this situation, as there is no RSS feed, you can't use Google reader.

I just noticed that Guus van den Brekel, Coordinator of Electronic Services, Central Medical Library (CMB) , Netherlands, posted something very similar ,he uses Netvibes.

He is using the real-time search engine Socialmentions to scan , which was what I was doing as mentioned in an earlier post (I also sugguested Bing which supposedly had more access to Facebook compared to Google). But I find Social Mention misses a lot in Facebook (evenh when you restrict SocialMentions to searching only Facebook) compared to the two Open Facebook Search or Booshaka  above.

I suspect SocialMention, Google and even Bing (despite what has being stated) is searching only fan pages and not all public status updates.

Compare say this search on Socialmention versus this on Facebook Open search.

Anyway, I think Facebook is important enough that you should have a dedicated scan for it.

Lastly, with the launch of the Facebook Like button, you can now see how many users have liked content on your webpage. My library doesn't implement the like button or even have a Facebook fan page, despite that you can still see that users have liked some content on our domain.

Again there is no RSS feed, but you can put it into Netvibes, LibGuides etc, by following instructions here.

That's all for now. Hope you found it useful.
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