The Globe & Mail had a story today about universities setting up Facebook Fan Pages.
Libraries have been trying to find their place in Facebook and as I wrote about earlier, they have been stopped from the traditional avenue of creating a Facebook Profile and were left with creating a Facebook Group which is not as powerful a tool for interacting with an audience.
In the last few weeks the blogs have been starting to fill-up with information about various libraries setting up one of these Fan Pages.
As a test I created a Fan Page for a fictional library, the Happytown Library.
The Fan Pages provide a lot of options for the type of content you can present. You can add any of the applications created for Facebook. I added the “My Feeds” application and I was quickly able to upload entries from my blog which I think a library with a separate news blog would find quite useful.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Fan Pages is the information that can be gathered about the “Fans”. Facebook created this ability with the goal of getting you to buy targeted ads for your company but the data is useful even if you don’t plan to create an ad.
Unfortunately, I don’t have enough fans to see just what type of demographic data is provided but I imagine it would be sex, age, network affiliation, etc.
From a quick scan of the various Fan Pages there does not appear to be a lot of activity but since they are so new and I’m not sure the various libraries/schools are actively promoting them yet, this is understandable.
Of course this again raises the question of whether libraries will create a Fan Page just to be “current” and “hip” or will they take advantage of the opportunities it provides.
This article does a good job of describing of how companies should use Fan Pages, with the point being that it makes no sense to just create another page where your users can get the same information they can from your web site.
The author says the whole goal is to create a “conversation hub”. But when I look at the page for the University of Toronto they have eliminated the Wall and the Discussion Board. It is a very one-way space for communication.
The University of Victoria Library on the other hand has their Wall and Discussion Board up and running (even if it is mainly the library posting comments at the moment). As well they have already integrated the JSTOR Search application and a search box for their catalogue.
It will be interesting to see these Fan Pages six months to a year from now to see if they have really grown in to places where users ask questions , provide feedback, etc. I suspect users will be much more open to “Faning” a library as opposed to “Friending” one given all the personal information you are liable to share with your Facebook friends (no one at the library needs to see a students’ pictures from the beer-bong showdown in the dorms last weekend).