Libraryland loves Twitter and so can you now that we’re here to demystify this social media stumper.
What’s This Twitter Thing?:
I think it’s easiest to explain Twitter by talking about how it’s different from Facebook. Many people use Facebook to connect with the people they don’t see every day and provide updates, photos, and videos to help them stay in touch or help others get to know them. Facebook has become a shortcut to conversation topics when making friends. People you’ve only met once may know what your wedding looked like if they can search your name and access your profile. You can create a fairly detailed archive of your life, your interests, big events, small moments, and those little thoughts that pop into your head.
Twitter doesn’t offer as many tools and it’s not as deliberate. It’s not meant to act as an archive for your life or to give detailed information to people trying to get to know you. It’s brief, casual, spontaneous, and not as easy to search or navigate. It’s a place where you share the clever thought you had, the strange thing that just happened, the touching moment you can’t help but share. You can add photos to your tweets or you can provide links to videos, but you’ll notice that Twitter feeds don’t always display a whole photo and the only way to make something similar to an album is to create a list of your tweets that include photos and group them that way (which would be time consuming).
Twitter is really great for connecting with your contacts over one brief idea, but not great for building relationships or connections from scratch. If Facebook is a staff meeting where you can hash out plans or an interview where you can dig for details, Twitter is the chance encounter in the break room where you bump into someone you know and bond over the fact that you like the same yogurt before your five minutes is up and you have to go back to your desk.
It’s powerful for getting answers to simple questions, commiserating over similar experiences, or laughing with each other over a good joke. There’s lots of helpful chatter for librarians, but you’ll also see lots of personal tweets, too, and both are fun ways to network.
How do I use hashtags and mentions?
Hashtags are those phrases that you see following a number sign like #saturdaylibrarian or #blacklivesmatter. Hashtags link social media posts to a common, searchable phrase. So, for instance, if you wanted to see the global impact of the Yes All Women movement, a way that you could do that is by googling the hashtag #yesallwomen, or searching individual social media platforms for it like Twitter and Facebook.
Mentions are a way for you to start a public conversation or attract a person’s interest to a thread or post. All you do is type in @ and the person’s username to get their attention. You can do this mid conversation with someone else, too. For instance, if you start talking about your idea of the perfect book to use for your first storytime with a group, you could also mention someone else as a way to ask for their ideas, too.
Be respectful when you’re considering joining a Twitter conversation between other people. For the most part, if users want a private conversation, they’re doing so through direct messages and that means they won’t mind if you want to jump in on a public conversation. However, you don’t want to be that person who jumps into a conversation just to derail it with counter-arguments and debating.
Companies, non-profits, authors, and others with a brand or product to sell are big users of Twitter, so be aware that if you’re using hot terms in your tweet, those parties may come across it. For instance, if you’re describing a book you don’t like, just be aware that if you mention the title or author’s name, even without mentioning them directly, they are probably going to see it when they are searching for those hot terms that pertain to them.
This means you should also be careful in the way you respond to other users’ tweets. If someone is complaining about a product, but isn’t mentioning the name or tagging the company, it’s probably because they don’t want the attention of that company. Try not to respond using the name of the product or company, either. Doing that could draw a company’s attention to the tweet and that may not be welcome.
You don’t want every tweet to be sad, negative, or a complaint. As episodic as Twitter is, people will start to remember if you never have anything constructive or positive to say and they’ll unfollow you. Twitter can be a great place to find support, but it’s important to be supportive of others, too.
You can choose to curse or not curse. This is a personal choice and depends entirely on your beliefs in how social media should be used. Some may want to always appear professional for those employers who like to search social media, but others will use it as a way to just be themselves and accurately display their personality.
How to maximize the experience as a library professional:
Ask specific, quick questions and get answers from experts you know and trust.
Share an idea or link to blog posts and websites to discuss issues.
Re-tweet things that really spark your interest and add a comment about why or what you’re planning. You can also re-tweet as a way to signal boost for important causes.
Tag other Twitter users when you use their ideas and tell them how it went.
Share a library success story and consider using the hashtag #ilovemylibraryjob or #librarylife to add to an ongoing conversation about the nature of our work.
Live tweet presentations at conferences using the conference hashtag. This allows everyone to see your notes and it may spark some interest among peers who are unable to attend.
Now get started by following some Tweeps: