Marketing Special Librar(y/ian) Services Through Increasing Social Capital
Another not-so-well-formed-thought post...
Point: We know that people like to get information from other people
Point: We know a little about the biases that impact which librarian users approach at the information desk at a public library
Point: We know a little about what members of the social network are approached for information (When an information problem exists, that is when members of the customer's close network can't help, the user needs to resort to weak ties to get help (kind of a paraphrase of Johnson, 2004
) see also the 5 hypotheses from Borgatti and Cross, 2003
Question: How can these knowns help librarians in special libraries gain more market share in question answering and information sharing in their organizations? How do we get them to ask us at least second if not first?
This is really an age-old question, but I'm not certain that marketing has been designed to capitalize on the whole social network research scene.
A few ideas:
-Aim to form closer ties with the customers so the librarians become easy, inexpensive sources of information (use mixers, company softball leagues, clubs)
-Lurk in the customers collaborative communities within the organization -- find something helpful to say -- contribute...
-There's also the hope that if we put ourselves in their way (physical proximity, see our upcoming poster session at SLA Toronto), that there will be serendipitous exchanges which will lead to more work.
-Hope that because we are very good at what we do and because we have the appropriate credentials, that customers only need to learn of our existence and qualifications to begin using our services (weak ties, but seen as authorities -- this is pretty much doing nothing, so not an acceptable marketing plan!)
Question: Does marketing a monolithic library where the professional staff are considered interchangeable parts hurt us more than help us with this model?