What's the Tweet about Twitter?

What's the Tweet about Twitter?

Posted on Thursday November 05, 2009 at 02:50PM


What’s the Tweet about Twitter?
A few weeks ago I promised a blurb related to my recent NetSpeed ’09 conference experience. I had hoped to get it out last week, but due to an awful cold I spent a lot of time at home, which you could have already known if you followed me on Twitter. Well, you could, if I actually kept on top of my Twitter account. This brings me to the discussion of this week’s blurb: To tweet, or not to tweet?
At NetSpeed ’09 I attended “New Social Networks for Library Promotion and Reputation Monitoring” presented by Paul Pival of the University of Calgary Library. The focus was Twitter and how libraries, such as his own and Edmonton Public Library (EPLdotCA), use it for promotions and a general communications tool. Pival was an engaging speaker and had some great examples, but, overall, I’m not convinced of its worth for smaller libraries.
The way I see it, Twitter is a lot of work for little return. First you have to set up an account. That is easy enough. Then you need to tweet: that is, you post your message. But your message can only be 140 characters long – that’s not a lot of space to promote a program. You could also use the space to promote a new acquisition, or even an update of library hours. All of this you could also do on your own website. The problem is getting people to read it.
You could let patrons know that you are now posting to Twitter by signage or by following other Twitter users. Rarely do people turn you down if you ask to follow them, and they tend to follow you in return; it’s finding people to follow that’s an issue. Also, your patrons may already be following so many people who constantly update their Twitter status that yours gets lost in the shuffle.
You could use Twitter to see what people are saying about your library by typing your library’s name in the search bar. If people have tweeted about you, it will show up. Then you request to follow the person who is tweeting about you. But Twitter is an ongoing/daily commitment; unlike signage, or posting to your website, you need to keep on top of Twitter to increase your number of followers and keep posting new items.
There are blogs and websites that provide instruction for librarians regarding Twittering. Some of the better ones are:
Despite my obvious bias against Twitter as a workable tool for small rural libraries, I would still encourage you to check it out, if only for fun. If you do sign up for an account, feel free to follow me, and I promise to follow you in return. 

Author: Northern Lights Library System


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