You Are So Lame That I Don't Want to Be Your Friend
A thread about incorporating social networking into library web sites is starting on USABILITY4LIB.
A librarian from one large private, proximate ivy league university library posted these reasons where her library had not engaged in social networking so far.
I've done some research on the potential for using social networks to engage students in library activities/marketing, and find that it's generally not been a useful tool for many libraries. This is based on my reading of the literature out there, not experience, but I think there are two main problems:
1. Students feel that it's an invasion of their privacy. Even though social networks are open, they still feel that facebook is "private" or a closed community of students, and interference from organizations can be viewed negatively. (But not always.)
2. ***Librarians don't have the time/energy/ideas to maintain a profile. People on social networks expect a certain level of effort to go into a profile, and a high level of maintenance. They update/check their profiles daily, and use it for communication daily, and expect other "worthy" participants to do so as well. If you're not on your profile every day, and don't have interesting new stories and info and pics to share, you're "lame." And, people won't want to be your "friend." And, that makes it not very worth-wile for busy librarians who need information from students.
So, [Name of University Deleted] Libraries have generally stayed out of social networking... so far. I think that could change. In order to get feedback/interaction from students, you'd really have to make an effort. Make a killin' profile, seek out lots of friends, and ask them questions. It may not be worth the effort - other modes of usability studies may provide you with all the layers of data that you need. I'm not sure that social networking would provide a unique layer of data that could not be gotten through more traditional modes.
If you put in the work to establish your profile on facebook, THEN it might be a good way to advertise usability studies and recruit participants. Ah-ha!