Although I had heard of Google+ before this week’s lesson, and had always wondered about it, I had never used it or taken the time to explore it in any depth. When the opportunity arose in this week’s exercise to try out a new social networking platform, Google+ was obviously an easy choice. My first impression was that Google+ was really quite simple to use, but lacked the visual appeal of Facebook. I was also unable to find the majority of my friends. Unsurprisingly, it was my MLIS classmates who had accounts. This is also something I’ve noticed on Twitter – the majority of the people I follow (outside of celebrities) are MLIS classmates and friends. As far as I can tell, the majority of MLIS students are keen to try new things, and seem to be on top of social networking options, when compared to my non-MLIS friends. I think it will certainly take me a long time to get accustomed to Google+, mainly because I struggled to find things that were an improvement over Facebook. Likely I’ll have to spend a bit more time exploring what it has to offer. I must say that it didn’t make a tremendously great first impression.
In contemplating the question that Dr. Neal posed regarding the library’s role in this social media and networking boom, I found that I was very conflicted. This conflict all stemmed from last term, when I created a library Facebook profile for a previous course. After creating it, I really began to consider how much effort it would take for a library to stay visible to its students in the Facebook world. That’s not to say that I don’t think libraries have a place on Facebook. I guess I just feel like it’s another way for school to interfere with a student’s life outside of academics, and it would take something really exciting/interesting for me to want to find a library’s page on Facebook. For me at least, Facebook is a time-waster, what I turn to when I don’t want to think about school work and projects. Interestingly enough, I don’t hold these sentiments when it comes to other social networking platforms. Twitter for example, seems like the perfect way for libraries to reach students. Why am I so quick to accept libraries and follow them on Twitter, but can’t be bothered to hunt down the same library on Facebook? I don’t know that there’s a straightforward answer to that.
To keep up with and participate in the social media conversation, I think libraries have to really understand their audience. If university students are flocking to Instagram, posting/tweeting pictures is probably a good way to keep your followers interested, and even gain some new ones. Making sure that your social networking material is relevant is also a huge consideration, which again comes down to understanding your audience. It sounds so simple, but as I learned from my experience, it’s not nearly as easy as it seems.