(Very) useful stuff about surveys

If you are involved in commissioning or putting together surveys them you can find some useful info over on Ben Healey’s blog including:

I did one of Ben’s papers at Massey University last year, before he escaped out into the real world (which was very bad luck for Massey marketing students IMHO! 🙂 ).

Bens blog


The Five WORST Excuses for Not Using Twitter

I found this article via http://twittown.com/twitter/five-worst-excuses-not-using-twitter 

If you’re as pro-Twitter as I am, you’ve probably heard a lot of your Twitter-hater friends give some pretty crazy excuses for why they won’t use Twitter. I myself have some particularly close friends who simply refuse to Tweet – and they’re always making excuses for why they won’t do it. Luckily I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into arguing with them – so you don’t have to. Check out these five worst excuses for not using Twitter, along with some snappy comebacks you can throw back at them:

  1. “I don’t use Twitter because I don’t have anything to say.”
  2. I hear this one from my friends all the time. They seem to feel like they need to have some kind of message, some sort of goal in mind, when they sit down to use Twitter. This couldn’t be farther from the truth – if you have a reason to open your mouth (besides eating and heavy breathing) you have a reason to use Twitter. On the off-chance that your friends are so uninteresting that they really don’t have anything to say, that’s OK too – with Twitter you can just listen. If they don’t have anything to say AND they don’t have anything that they’re remotely interested in hearing about…you might want to find more interesting friends.





  3. “I don’t use Twitter because you can’t say anything meaningful in 140 characters.”
  4. On the contrary, some of history’s most meaningful statements have been “tweetable.” Briefly reviewing some of the most famous quotations and famous sayings will show that the drastic majority of them are 140 characters or less. Why? Because pithiness and brevity go hand in hand. When my friends tell me “you can’t say anything meaningful in 140 characters” I tell them, “If it takes more than 140 characters to convey the main idea, it probably wasn’t as meaningful as you thought it was.”





  5. “I don’t have time to use Twitter.”
  6. Now that’s just silly. Most of us are fairly capable typists; sending a tweet, even a full 140-character tweet, takes us around 30 seconds (and that includes proofreading). Even if you’re jabbing at an iPhone with chubby fingers, we’re still talking about one or two minutes here. Reading Tweets takes even less time, and tweets aren’t like newspaper articles – you can stop reading them whenever you want. They’re short. If people say they don’t have time to use Twitter, what that probably means is that they don’t think Twitter is worth spending any time on – and that’s a different topic altogether.





  7. “I don’t use Twitter because I’m not interested in hearing about what people are eating for breakfast.”
  8. I’m so tired of hearing this one. Whoever started the rumor that Twitter is all about telling the world that you’re “making a sandwich” should be thrown to the zombies. Briefly reviewing the last 50 of my followers’ tweets, there is not a single one about what people are eating. Those fifty tweets cover a wide variety of topics – what books people are reading, the usage and meaning of the word “obtuse,” the best/worst action movies, Billy Mays’ recent appearance on South Park…but nothing about making a sandwich. There was one about a guy trying to do his laundry after drinking heavily, but that was about the closest it got.





  9. “I don’t use Twitter because it’s a waste of time.”
  10. Tell that to #iranelection. A significant portion of the rest of the world takes Twitter seriously – why wouldn’t you? All that saying it’s “a waste of my time” does is make you look ignorant – which you’re not, or you probably wouldn’t be my friend in the first place.


So there you go – the five most maddening excuses I hear for not using Twitter, and some of the responses I give people. Be forewarned: using these counter-arguments with your friends is not likely to immediately change their minds. The best way to convince a Twitter-hater that they’re in the wrong is to sit down with a good example – like #iranelection – of how Twitter has the potential to change the world, 140 characters at a time.

Posted using ShareThis

Surveys: Getting better return rates through incentives

One of the great things about working at a university library is you can get to along to lunchtime lectures on Wednesdays to hear academics talking about their research. The Dept of Communication, Journalism and Marketing here at the Turitea campus of Massey University has been running an excellent series of talks this year. This week Dr Mike Brennan spoke about “Doing research on the cheap”.

Mike spoke about using surveys to conduct experimental studies on how to improve return rates (this was for mail surveys). One of the key ways to improve return rates is to use an incentive, but what works best? As part of this experiment surveys had 20 cents, 50 cents, or $1 attached to them, or a chance to go into the draw for $200 or a $200 voucher, and there was a control with no incentive.

Return rates are improved by providing the incentive with the survey, rather than the promise of a prize draw or voucher. Turns out the 50 cent incentive got the best return from the first mail out in this experiment:


Mail 1

Mail 2

Mail 3





20c mailout 1




50c mailout 1




$1 mailout 1




20c mailout 2




50c mailout 2




$1 mailout 2




$200 prize draw




$200 voucher




(NB We didn’t get a date that this research was done. Many thanks to my colleague Jane Brooker for noting the figures for this table.)

Obviously a small cash incentive is not true compensation for someone’s time, so wording such as “please accept this as a token of our appreciation” in the covering letter works well.

These days NZ Post doesn’t allow cash to be sent through the mail. Intrepid researchers have tried alternatives to cash in postal surveys. These include:

  • Pens
  • Tea bags, coffee bags, or both
  • Scratch and win cards
  • Stamps
  • Golf balls (!)
  • Turkeys (presumably vouchers for them!)

                                        choc2                                                                                                                                                                                                         Gold foil wrapped chocolate coins have also been tried, but a better option is the chocolate squares from Whittakers. Judging by the murmurs of approval from the audience this is likely to be a great incentive!



The other important thing is not to use just one mail out, but to send a reminder or another copy of the questionnaire in subsequent mailouts. As the table above shows this will increase response rates. Various combinations have been trialled and the 3 stage combo of questionnaire with chocolate/replacement questionnaire/follow up letter was mentioned as being successful.

Other external treatments have also been researched – these include using stamped v franked envelopes, brown v white envelopes, tone of the cover letter, status of the researcher (professor v student), colour of the questionnaire. Mike’s profile page details the research he and colleagues have published in this area.

PS –  I see there was a session at the recent LIANZA conference on designing effective surveys by Rachel Esson from Victoria University of Wellington, so that’s one conference paper I’ll be looking out for.

Wonderful world of blogs …

… or how am I going to keep up! So many interesting things to read, so little time …

Courtesy of the M Word a blog post on ACRL wanting a researcher to review the literature on the value of academic libraries with a view to providing “ACRL members with tools and strategies to demonstrate the value of academic libraries to their institutional leadership”. So this is very much along the lines of the emerging theme of measuring the impact of what we do-  as reported by my colleague Heather in her LIANZA conference blog. “Value” is an interesting concept, I have been talking about it lately but more in terms of building it into our promotional messages. Value in terms of ROI (return on investment) is another concept that libraries are starting to look at.

And also thanks to the M Word, I’ve discovered another blog called In The Library With The Lead Pipe Great looking blog, substantial posts, reference lists and lots of comments! Three very interesting posts for starters:

Stepping on Toes: The Delicate Art of Talking to Faculty about Questionable Assignments

Sense of self: Embracing your teacher identity

Outreach is (un)Dead

Marketing trends to watch – from Alison Circle

More words of marketing wisdom from Alison – you can read the full post, and I have posted some highlights here, along with a few of my thoughts 🙂

This is a very good point for starters:

One bad habit in Libraryland is that too often we look exclusively at libraries for ideas and trends. For example, when redesigning web sites, we look at other libraries, not trendsetting retailers or innovative nonprofits. We’re guilty of a little too much me-too-ism. As a marketing professional, I see trends everywhere, ideas ripe for libraries to pluck and make their own in order to demonstrate that we are still here and better than ever.

Trends followed by Alison in no particular order:

1. Twitter – allows you to speak directly to customers, run instant polling and build loyalty

I didn’t “get” Twitter for ages until I changed my focus on who I was following and thought more about the identity I wanted to portray. I’m a Business Librarian and I’m now following a range of businesses, business news and business info vendors, along with fellow librarians and few fun things. I’m retweeting things I see that might be of  value to my followers. I can certainly see how libraries could fit into the Twitter picture. There are disadvantages – tweets can get lost in a continuous stream of updates for instance. But on the other hand its a very easy channel to use to publicise blog posting and news items, so why not get on board.

2. Value. Value. Value

It isn’t hard to figure out your value. Conduct this exercise. Think about where you fit in each of the three circles … [important to audience – you are good at it – no one else is doing it]. Where they intersect is your value proposition. Tell people this story over and over. Then over again. You’ll get tired of it long before it penetrates public consciousness.

Ah yes value. I think we need to be smarter at demonstrating this to our customers.  I work in an academic library and I think we need to make it more obvious how our resources can deliver value to students. Don’t just link to “library resources” in an online learning environment but be blatant – “how to find the 5 articles you need for your essay”

3. Online reputation management

In today’s world, organizations must spend as much effort managing their online brands as they do the physical one. Without diligence, the online brand may fall out of sync with your offline marketing messages. User-generated content, blogs, and online forums all mean that the flow of information and messages about an organization is no longer controllable.

4. Video marketing

Today, advertising is flipped on its head—and can be had for a completely different cost equation. For example, take the story of YouTube sensation Lauren Luke, a self-styled makeup maven. She started selling cosmetics on eBay and soon was putting up videos on YouTube that she modestly taped from her bedroom. Her videos have logged more than 50 million views, and her YouTube channel has 250,000 subscribers. She never paid for a single ad.

Further evidence for this one today –  “Forget the 30-second television advertisement, the Internet is where it’s at”, says Air NZ (via bernardchickey on Twitter)

5. Value-added content

A modest way for libraries to do this is to add an “If You Like” enhancement to the catalog, similar to what Amazon does. This pushes circulation and provides a core value enhancement for customers. Seattle Public Library offers searchers a “similar titles” feature as well as tags. Most of us, however, are still using the online catalog like a bookshelf.

6. Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing, or marketing through a mobile channel, is one of the first new channels to arise in over 50 years and is quickly becoming a primary way to reach customers. Phones are now the one-stop shop for communication, digital services, email, photos, and navigation. Libraries can embrace this channel and quickly. At a minimum, web sites should be easy to navigate in a mobile browser. Provide the option to receive notices via phone (even my dentist does that) and develop specific apps to enhance your presence on customer devices.

7. The art of being real

You’ll also hear this referred to as the trust economy. Libraries have this in spades. In fact, I can think of few others that have us beat. We have so many stories to tell about ourselves: successful job seekers, kids using Homework Help Centers to improve grades, childhood literacy through Ready To Read. We could own the trust economy and should be shouting those stories from the rooftops.

8. A deeper shade of green

Some libraries are doing more to demonstrate their green commitment. Worthington Libraries, OH, for example, selected a green theme for its Teen Summer Reading Club in order to address this hot topic for teens.

I’m not so convinced on this one  – so many businesses/institutions are trumpeting this then unless you have really got something to brag about – like an eco-designed library building – promoting green initiatives may not have an impact?

9. Death of email

This is a subset of mobile marketing, but it is more specific because it deals only with the texting capability of phones. A consortium of international libraries has introduced My Info Quest (myinfoquest.info), a text-messaging service that provides live reference services for the public. Users get the answer they need from a worldwide network of professionals, but it feels and sounds just like their local library. They never know the difference! Fifty U.S. libraries are participating in this free, librarian-vetted version of ChaCha (a free service that you can call/text from any cell phone for answers to any and all questions), which is nipping at the heels of reference librarians.

10. Micromarketing

Libraries believe this approach can’t be for us, because we are open to all and serve everyone. But reduced budgets and a clamoring marketplace mean we can no longer be the same thing for all people … The trick is not to lose control over your overall brand while appealing to target audiences.

11. Value of Design

Libraries, in contrast, tend to focus on individual expression, allowing staff to execute the brand however it wants. Instead, standardize your library’s brand through use of templates, consistent color palette and fonts, and development of (and adherence to) a brand book. We need to move beyond what is fun for our staff toward what is best for our brand.

12.  Speed

Conduct a thorough evaluation from the customer’s point of view to determine how service delivery can be streamlined and made easy for them. If people have to work at it, they’ll walk away. Early on in my library career, a senior manager was proud that our library had “taught our customers well” how to follow our protocols. This kind of thinking just doesn’t fly anymore.

13. Emotional connection

Marketing today is all about making an emotional connection that establishes relevance to customers. Libraries want to be all about content. But now that content is everywhere (including contradictory dates for Queen Nefertiti’s birthday), libraries—almost better than anything else—need to and can cement that emotional and personal connection  … When we focus on our collections, electronic databases, or—heaven forbid—library FAQs, without first establishing an emotional connection, I worry about the future relevance of our great institutions.

We really need to concentrate on this to build our point of difference between other information providers such as Google, Amazon etc.

Fundraising for the Pacific

via NZ-Libs this morning

Talofa lava

 My sincerest condolences to members of our community who have lost loved ones in the recent earthquake and tsunami in Samoa and Tonga.

  At the Manawatu campus library of Massey University we are holding a special fundraising morning tea in our staffroom where library staff will be donating baked good and other members of staff a gold coin donation as an attempt to raise money for the aid that is required in Samoa and Tonga.

 We have recently had similar fundraising efforts for Save the Children Fund (where we raised $170) and the Cupcake Week appeal for the SPCA (where we raised $300+).  Money that we raise will go to the Red Cross.

 This is quite a simple, but yet quite effective fundraiser and we (Massey University Library staff) would like to challenge other libraries around New Zealand to do something similar.

 Fa’afetai tele


 Spencer Lilley
Kaihautū Māori / Māori Services Manager
Massey University Library – Te Putanga ki te Ao Mātauranga Private Bag 11054
Palmerston North