Libraries and Twitter…is microblogging the way to go?


It seems as if Twitter is in the news constantly these days…not just because of its most famous user at the moment, though he certainly plays a big role in that. I’ve set up at Twitter account for our library already, but have been hesitant to use it much, not really knowing the best way to go about it. It seems all too easy to miss things in its 140-character, there-and-gone format–one’s Twitter feed is constantly updating; by the time you’ve read the first three posts, chances are you’ve got a message at the top telling you that there’s been 5, 10, even 30 new Tweets in the meantime!

It’s enough to make you feel kind of feel like this:


…just substitute “Stephen King” with “the Twitterverse” and “tweets” for “page novel” and you’ve pretty much got it. If you want really to blow your mind, sign up for Tweetdeck and make a column for something that’s currently trending, like, say, #Oscars during this year’s live broadcast–you won’t be able to read a single post before it’s replaced by (literally) dozens of new ones.

So, yeah. I want to use Twitter, but I want to make sure it’s working for my library.

We had some readings on Twitter for class–the “Twitter and the Paradox of Following and Trending” chapter from Jose van Dijck’s book The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media, but I wanted to find something a little less cerebral and a bit more how-to to keep in my everyday toolbox of ideas.

A quick Google search gave me some good ideas: Library Journal’s website offered “10 golden rules to take your library’s Twitter account to the next level” that had some great tips. Their suggestion that “if something is important, tweet about it four times” spoke directly to my concern about missing users who aren’t online when your tweet hits the top of their feed. (And Tweetdeck will allow you to schedule tweets to be posted at a future date and time, though it won’t let you immediately set up a second tweet identical to the one you just did. You can get around this by slightly changing up what you’ve said, and get your message out at different times twice a day, over two days as they suggest.)

If you’re someone who likes to watch what others do to learn from them (or you’re just looking for some cool librarians to add to your “follow” list), Library Science List has “75 of the coolest librarians to follow on Twitter” for you. The list is from 2013, but all of the ones I checked (no, not all 75…yet) were still active and doing fun things on the platform.

If you need a “Twitter for Dummies”-type article, the Georgia State University Library has put together a PDF just for you here. Their “Twitter as a Marketing Tool for Libraries” is 22 pages long, but there’s tons of screenshots included in that page count, and really, it’s a very thorough, basic resource.

Finally, the American Library Association gives you another viewpoint with their 2015 “Libraries Using Twitter Better: Insights on Engagement from Food Trucks” (which might just appeal to me because I have yet to grab lunch yet). It’s a more scientific approach than the other resources, but uses solid data to back up its mantra of create a community of users through mentions, retweets, and hashtags.

What about you? Any out there have any advice to offer on using Twitter to engage with your patrons?


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