What I would do with FaceBook: an example of targeting your niche markets

September 19, 2006, 10:21 am

As more and more libraries come aboard the online social networking ‘fad’ the one thing I hope we can do is evolve beyond the storefront concept. Many of the library profiles I’ve seen are very reference-centric. Essentially, I feel we are simply duplicating the concept of the physical desk (come to us, we’re here if you need help) within the virtual world.

The strength of FaceBook is the potential for groups. Rather than just creating a “isn’t the Library cool" group – why not aim for something more productive? For example, for us, I’d like to create a MATLAB Support group. Call it something provocative like, the “MATLAB sucks your life away” group. Many of our students are required to learn this difficult software program, so by creating a group such as this, we are tapping into their raw emotion, but also offering sympathy. We provide a unified place for students to express frustrations as well as seek assistance. We can then also market the fact that we have Teaching Assistants available in the Library M-TR from 6pm – 8pm who can help with problems, as well as provide info for other tutoring, mentoring, and assistance around campus too. We can also provide links to tutorials, videos, handouts, books, guides, samples and other supportive materials. And to hype it up, place a few flyers in large ‘engineering’ classrooms directing them toward the facebook group. Or buying the $5 a day online flyer ad space. Using viral tactics, I’d imagine the group could reach 300 members by the end of October.

That’s my whole approach now—targeting niche markets. We can’t be everything to everybody, but if we strive to match services with needs, we can have a much greater impact on those who we do help.

I feel that just creating a storefront and being social is not enough. We need to expand the function of the library too. Why not something along the lines of “MLA? APA? Screw that, I’ll just use Endnote”? Find fun and creative ways get your message out there. Don’t be boring, like most libraries :)

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