Text Messaging Update

Text Messaging was introduced by Ask a Librarian on October 25th with little fanfare for the users. While all of us, were training, creating scripts and otherwise preparing – we expected initial growth to be slow and did little promotion for this new service point, with the idea that the new year would hold new wisdom we’d gleaned from our first few months being live.

However- users are finding us!!!! We are so excited with our first month of service’s usage numbers. In November, we answered 566 text messages! Not bad for a new service. As one of the first statewide services offering collaborative Texting, you are really part of a historic step for libraries!

Best Practices Update

Last Friday, the SMS taskforce got together to discuss the first month. We realize there are a few bumps – but we are looking at how they can be fixed. One of the biggest issues seems to be “threading” – a user replying to a librarian and the answer being picked up by another librarian. When answering a user with a question or answer that would likely generate a response from the user, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Mark the reply “Follow-Up”, which is the check box just to the right of the Send button.  Follow-up questions and answers are located in a shared tab so others can see your history.  Follow-up includes not only what users texted but how librarians responded.
  • Be On the Lookout!  Many texters who return do so fairly soon, so watch the queue for your user returning by their phone number and/or library designation.
  • Be vocal when leaving the desk. If you have expectations or knowledge that may help others help a returning user, definitely share that. Letting others know the situation in the agent chat room may prevent confusion on a returning text and prevent other staff from reinventing the wheel.  Speaking up helps everyone, including the user.

More information on best practice patterns is emerging every day; in the meantime, these should definitely help us to acclimate to and excel in this exciting new world of text reference. The taskforce will be doing some in-depth analysis of texts and hopes to have additional best practices recommendations as we analyze the past month.

Do you have another tip or trick you have found useful? Please let us know!!

Promotion: Where are all these users coming from?

Ask a Librarian has added your local texting phone number to your customer portal page, widgets and mobile pages.

Libraries are also promoting texting to their users. Here are some examples, we have seen:

Another Effective Promotional Tool is a QR Code. Here are two examples codes. These codes are easily generated and can be used on everything from bookmarks to handouts to business cards.

There are several free QR code generators – I personally use http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

What are you planning at your library in 2011 to promote Ask a Librarian and Ask a Librarian Texting?

March Madness Month- Help us create a QR Marketing Campaign

Where each day brings a surprising fact, a fun activity, or an Ask a Librarian award … and a chance to brag about our incredible services!

Ask a Librarian tries to constantly market the service.  We want to help create excitement, or buzz about the service.     We are constantly trying to think of new ways to let the world know what an awesome service we have.   Seriously – LIVE HELP at their moment of need – and its FREE! What more could a frustrated student want.     As often with marketing, you feel you scream about something for years and everyone should know about it…but they don’t…alas we must continue.

One of the most powerful new augmented reality tools are QR Codes.  What is that you ask?  Well – a QR Code is a barcode you generate that connects print and the web.   A user sees a QR Code (pictured on the right) and snaps a picture using a free program on their cellphone (BeeTag, Kaywa, Microsoft Tag are a few of the free programs.)  The picture then connects their mobile device to a webpage, a video, or any web-based content).     It’s a million times easier than typing in a URL into a mobile.       These are starting to appear more frequently in the US and are already popular in Japan.


Esquire and other magazines have been using them to connect an advertisement to the web (and more here)

teachers are using them to connect handouts and the web

–  librarians to connect print and electronic resources

books are able to be updated! Think about using this for textbooks and having the QR code connect lessons, videos or electronic resources with the most recent information.

This concept is on the cusp of becoming mainstream and I think it would be a great tool for promoting Ask a Librarian…though I am struggling to find just the right campaign.   So, this week’s challenge is HELP ME!  Send ideas on 1- what the QR Code should link to and 2- where would you think these codes would be most effective!

Please send your ideas in by Friday for a special prize!

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) – Spread the Word!
Inform your users with these talking points:
·         For live help when you’re not in our library, visit askalibrarian.org (or find the link on our library’s website).
·         You can use Ask a Librarian for free.
·         Ask a Librarian is a website where you can go to get your questions answered by a real librarian.
·         Ask a Librarian is open until midnight ET Sunday through Thursday and until 5 p.m. ET Friday and Saturday.
·         If Ask a Librarian isn’t open for chat, you can always email your question to us, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.