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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Should ALA integrate Facebook into its website?

Hello, WAC members!

A quick introduction: my name is Jenny Levine, and I'm one of the ITTS staff members serving on the Website Advisory Committee. My primary areas of focus are ALA Connect and emerging technologies. In my emerging tech role, I convene our internal Social Media Working Group, which looks at long-term strategic planning and best practices.

Our group met last week and began discussing recommendations we need to make to the larger [internal] Web Editorial Board for integrating social media into our future Drupal-based website.

To be honest, we're torn about the issue. We like being able to interact with members in an informal space (no pun intended) and promote our content, but we also value member privacy and go to great lengths to protect it. As a representative body of ALA members, we'd appreciate your input since its your privacy and eyeballs (as potential advertising targets) that are in question.

How would you like to see Facebook integrated into the website - if at all?

Potential options include:

  • There's already a "share on FB" option in the AddThis "share" widget in the left-hand column, but we could separate it out to make it more visible.
  • We could add a like/recommend button.
  • We could add the FB widget that shows which of your friends have already liked a page.
  • Don't integrate FB at all.
  • Other ideas?



Carol Pala's picture

Yes, make it as visible as possible.

Wendy Stephens's picture

I agree with Carol, I would integrate fb as much as possible -- so many people seem to be using that as their chief communications avenue.

My concern is getting them TO Connect from fb, but maybe more features of the type Jenny describes will work towards driving them back there.  

Justin Hoenke (non-member)'s picture

I agree "Yes, make it as visible as possible"

I don't come to ALA.org that much.  It would be great to see things show up in my news feed on FB.

Marcia Warner (non-member)'s picture

Yes, visible and integrated when you are overwhelmingly busy helps for me.

Aaron Dobbs's picture

As you say, ala.org already has a social widget available (Add This) and after double-checking the settings, it's an easy enough widget with a good enough agreement and ok default privacy settings: http://www.addthis.com/privacy

I wonder, why privilege FB over these other social media options?

I like the small footprint of the current implementation and there are good first choices displayed - with access to another 300+social media sites: http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=152

If we add a "FB Like indicator" widget (I think we should), what other, similar tools should we also implement?

Back to the original question, how much integrating is possible?
Does the current ALA FB Group get notifications via RSS (or however) of new content posted?
Are there multiple feeds available for new content from Divisions or other Units (will these be available in the new CMS)? :)


PS: A quick comment on the current Share button - I'm not sure I appreciate the "successfully shared, get the Firefox extension" advertisment after returning to the page (but maybe I'm just curmudgeonly today :)

I'm just full of questions as answers to questions today, aren't I?


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Robin Kear's picture

I am also torn on this issue, so I may not be that much help. Aaron asks some good questions. I am concerned about privacy from the Facebook side.

We do already have the share button. Separating it out might help make the options more visible.

I know CNN now has something like this where you can log in via Facebook and post stories. On the individual pages, you can Recommend via Facebook and see how many people liked the page. I am not sure how useful this would be. Is this the kind of thing you are thinking about implementing? Maybe send us some examples in use already?


Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Hi, WAC --

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this discussion. I'll try to address all of the questions asked so far.

  1. Why privilege Facebook over other social media options?
    We're not privileging Facebook over other sites, but it does offer a set of risks that aren't associated with other sites (at least, not yet). The "Recommend" widget in particular could upset a contingent of our members/site visitors and be seen as a privacy violation that goes against specific ALA initiatives (eg, Choose Privacy). Of course, the user could just log out of Facebook in order to prevent the tracking, but we still want to solicit member opinions about this.

    We're also examining other sites for inclusion in our recommendations, but we felt we needed to get input from WAC about this particular one because of the potential risks.

  2. How much integration is possible?
    Since we're moving to Drupal, we can do just about anything, although not necessarily on day one. This is more of a policy/ethics issue than a technical one.
  3. Does the current ALA FB group/page get notifications via RSS of new content posted?
    Not at this time, for a couple of reasons. The first is that it would be difficult for anyone to follow the firehose of information that comes out of ALA on a daily basis, so we'd have to figure out which pieces to feed into the page without overwhelming fans.

    However, I've been learning a lot about the new Facebook lately, and one of the things that's becoming clear is that automatically feeding content into a page actually demotes it in the news stream algorithm, which means fewer people will see it unless they manually visit the ALA page itself (and let's face it, you're unlikely to visit it without having a reason to go there).

    I need to finish my research on this, but it's something we could discuss further after I have a better understanding about all of this. Admins are manually sharing news to the wall for now.

  4. Are there multiple feeds available for new content from Divisions or other Units, and will these be available in the new CMS?
    There are dozens, if not hundreds of feeds, from the various divisions, offices, round tables, etc. The Read Write Connect wiki gives you a glimpse of what's available via blogs, wikis, Twitter, etc., but it's nowhere near comprehensive. We have a tough time getting folks to maintain the wiki, so there's a lot more out there than what's listed. I feed a lot of stuff into the ALA FriendFeed account, but I haven't updated the feeds there lately. Personally, I'm worried about overwhelming Facebook users' news streams and annoying people if we post to the page too much. It's one thing when several of your friends share something, but I think it feels spammy when an organization overwhelms your feed.
  5. Is the "Recommend" via Facebook widget the type of thing we're thinking about implementing?
    The "like/recommend" widget is one of our primary concerns. If you look at sites like CNN and Mashable (see http://mashable.com/2010/11/15/facebook-messaging-event/ for one example), there's a block that shows how many people have liked the story and specifically shows pictures of your friends who have liked it. If none of your friends have liked it, the text encourages you to be the first by clicking on the "like" button.

    We're reluctant to implement this type of thing, especially without more member feedback.

I hope this helps keep the discussion going, as I'd like to hear from other committee members, too. However, if everyone feels that they've had enough time to hear back from their constituencies and there haven't been any concerns raised, it would be good to know that, too, so I can let the ALA staff group know.

Let me know if you have further questions.


Aaron Dobbs's picture

Hiya, just sent a note out on ALA Council List asking for folks' opinions. We may be deluged, shortly. Broadening the discussion beyond the web-types seemed in order.


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian