2/08/2010

using social media v. building online community


I've been working with a large cross-functional team at OCLC that's looking across all of our content management needs and thinking through what we need (functionally and otherwise) to evolve and improve our websites. Perhaps not surprisingly, I've come to the process with a strong desire for seeing systems that support interactive features, anything that shows the personality, the humanity and the voice of our cooperative.

So far, the process has helped me sort through what, exactly, I mean when I say that. I've already seen one vendor demo where they checked "yep" on a RFI response to "web 2.0 stuff" (don't worry, we were more detailed than that) but in the demo they showed us what they really meant is that a user can click a star rating or share/post this content to their facebook profile. And that's what they mean by 'interactive capabilities.' I'm not disparaging the vendor, because what they did offer in the way of personalized content management and other critical features seemed incredible - and you can't have it all. But I was surprised that their definition of web 2.0 capability was so much different than mine. On reflection, I should not have been so surprised. There is a difference between "building online community" and "using social media" and therein lies the differences between me and Mr. CMS Vendor.

To help me out with the rest of our demos happening later this month, below is a short list of capabilities that I think are useful for facilitating community with your web-audience. * I'll be looking for each of them as we move through the rest of our exploration of the current CMS world.

Site visitors can:
  • find content, conversations, and people through search and browse
  • see the images and names of real people wherever users have contributed content
  • subscribe to and see new and most recent content from site authors and users
  • register as a member of the site
Site members can:
  • create and edit a user profile
  • create and edit threaded comments or discussions
  • add tags, ratings, or other user-contributed metadata
  • select interests and see personalized or private content based on those preferences
  • with permission, add or manage content (such as moderating a group or adding new content to a section)
Site admins can:
  • extract visitor, member, and author activity for site management purposes
  • push and pull web-content via extensions, plug-ins, or widgets
  • establish private content and assign permissions to view content

On the other hand, if there's anything that I've learned at WebJunction (an online community for library staff) it's that none of the tools we use make or break the online community. It's the people who spend their time "at WebJunction" (which is now a lot bigger than our website) and their willingness to share and support one another there. So, I remind myself again to not get attached to any one function or space.

Most certainly, these are not all the elements we'll need in an enterprise CMS. In fact, I wouldn't prioritize some of these things over the other things we're looking for. But in terms of interactivity and community building with our web-users, I'm hoping this gives us a good start. And I'm very hopeful that I'm able to check off a few more of these items as we proceed through the rest of our selection process. Even though I know it's not about the tools, I know that some of these features will certainly help us along.

I share this with you because I'm curious if you think there are things that I've missed, or things that I have here that you don't think are important. What have you learned in designing your websites and selecting your content management tools? What have you learned in using other websites that you'd like to see more prominent in library services?

* My list is based on a group process started by Deb Lewis, a group discussion facilitated by Sharon Streams, and a "success criteria for online communities" working document contributed to by a number of my colleagues at OCLC.


No comments:

Post a Comment