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Six Things Libraries Should Tweet

This is a post in response to David Lee King’s post on How Not to Tweet. He correctly pointed out some things you shouldn’t do. He also said you should think about the big picture like “What do you want to get out of it?” But people often wonder, what sort of things should our library tweet about? Here’s a list:

  • Library events – Let people know what’s going on. Having a movie night in the library? Let people know. Having a chili cookoff? Get the word out!
  • Links to articles, videos, etc. – If you come across web content that would be relevant or helpful to your patrons, tweet it. You can even tweet things marginally related if you think your patrons would respond favorably. Twitter is great for sending links. And don’t forget to use a link shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.
  • Solicit feedback – Twitter is made for conversations, so feel free to ask questions of your followers. Ask things that you actually want to know about and that you are prepared to act upon though. Don’t ask, “should the library stay open until midnight?” unless you’re prepared to do something with their responses.
  • New additions to your collection - Got some new books? Added a database recently? Tweet it up! People might not know about your additions unless you tell them. Twitter can be helpful for informing patrons about new resources.
  • Marketing - get the word out about how great your library is! Libraries and librarians do some pretty awesome stuff, but people don’t always see it. Let people know you just created a new tutorial or that you had over 150,000 visits last year. Don’t worry about tooting your own horn a little bit, just not all the time.
  • Answer questions - in the example below I noticed someone was working on a paper and simply sent them a link, you’d be surprised how powerful that can be.

tweet

Don’t forget to be human and be social. Being human means not only sending out the same links to events or new books over and over, but sending out fun things like librarians dancing to Thriller. Don’t be an automaton. And being social means having conversations with patrons. Answer @replies, ask questions, socialize. Don’t simply broadcast like you have a megaphone. It is social networking after all.

This list is by no means comprehensive, just some ideas to get people thinking. Please leave any other ideas you have in the comments.

Andy Burkhardt

32 Comments

  1. I posted a link to this article on Twitter and it’s been getting a lot of traffic. If you’re on there, you can follow us at twitter.com/AtYourLibrary. This is a really great article and I wish more people would take this advice to heart. Too many times do I see people/organizations don’t reach out to people and try to create more of a community rather than just get as many followers as possible. Thanks for sharing this simple and seemingly obvious, yet extremely useful and important advice.

  2. I posted a link to this article on Twitter and it’s been getting a lot of traffic. If you’re on there, you can follow us at twitter.com/AtYourLibrary. This is a really great article and I wish more people would take this advice to heart. Too many times do I see people/organizations don’t reach out to people and try to create more of a community rather than just get as many followers as possible. Thanks for sharing this simple and seemingly obvious, yet extremely useful and important advice.

  3. @AtYourLIbrary: I wholeheartedly agree. There is the beginnings of a great community of librarians on Twitter, with things like the #followalibrarian hashtag, or library themed Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors on Facebook, or people rallying around libraries as budgets are being slashed. I definitely want to see this grow.

    But let’s also take this sense of community we’re seeing and bring our patrons in as well. Let’s get them active and engaged using social media tools like Twitter or Facebook. They’ll be our biggest advocates.

  4. @AtYourLIbrary: I wholeheartedly agree. There is the beginnings of a great community of librarians on Twitter, with things like the #followalibrarian hashtag, or library themed Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors on Facebook, or people rallying around libraries as budgets are being slashed. I definitely want to see this grow.

    But let’s also take this sense of community we’re seeing and bring our patrons in as well. Let’s get them active and engaged using social media tools like Twitter or Facebook. They’ll be our biggest advocates.

  5. New media leadership takes time and commitment. Are libraries staffed to make the most of these exciting opportunities?

  6. New media leadership takes time and commitment. Are libraries staffed to make the most of these exciting opportunities?

  7. You bring up a very good point Carolyn. There is a lot of excitement around social media, but like you said it takes “time and commitment.” Some libraries can devote staff time to maintaining a social presence, but some libraries are just one or two people running the show.

    I think it may be a question of prioritization. Librarians are extremely busy as it is, but perhaps some of these social media tools are a part of the answer. Marketing the library and letting people know what great services you’re providing to the community can be of immense benefit when people start thinking about reducing library funds or hours.

    The power of a mobilized community should never be overlooked. There’s a community around libraries already. People love libraries, but some communities aren’t mobilized. But if they’re following you on Twitter or Facebook, they feel like they’re a community…a part of something larger. A mobilized community can be very vocal.

    I know this doesn’t completely answer the question of where does staffing or time come from. Libraries are always struggling with that question. I don’t think social media is a magic bullet, but I see a lot of potential in it.

  8. You bring up a very good point Carolyn. There is a lot of excitement around social media, but like you said it takes “time and commitment.” Some libraries can devote staff time to maintaining a social presence, but some libraries are just one or two people running the show.

    I think it may be a question of prioritization. Librarians are extremely busy as it is, but perhaps some of these social media tools are a part of the answer. Marketing the library and letting people know what great services you’re providing to the community can be of immense benefit when people start thinking about reducing library funds or hours.

    The power of a mobilized community should never be overlooked. There’s a community around libraries already. People love libraries, but some communities aren’t mobilized. But if they’re following you on Twitter or Facebook, they feel like they’re a community…a part of something larger. A mobilized community can be very vocal.

    I know this doesn’t completely answer the question of where does staffing or time come from. Libraries are always struggling with that question. I don’t think social media is a magic bullet, but I see a lot of potential in it.

  9. I’d add to that – don’t be afraid to repeat a tweet. for example, as @rodneylibraries I tweet when I’m using the free wifi at the libraries. I tweeted several times from different locations before a follower asked if there was free internet at her library. She’d missed the other tweets (including the ones that said i’d been at her library using the free wifi.) hopefully it’s not an annoying habit…

  10. I’d add to that – don’t be afraid to repeat a tweet. for example, as @rodneylibraries I tweet when I’m using the free wifi at the libraries. I tweeted several times from different locations before a follower asked if there was free internet at her library. She’d missed the other tweets (including the ones that said i’d been at her library using the free wifi.) hopefully it’s not an annoying habit…

  11. Do you have any recommendations for libraries as far as following others on Twitter?
    We’ve just started to Twitter in connection with our Young Adult activities (@NHCPLYA) and are still working on developing a follower base.
    I don’t want to seem unfriendly to those who follow us, but I also am concerned about ending up with a page that at any given time is mostly not library generated information.

  12. Do you have any recommendations for libraries as far as following others on Twitter?
    We’ve just started to Twitter in connection with our Young Adult activities (@NHCPLYA) and are still working on developing a follower base.
    I don’t want to seem unfriendly to those who follow us, but I also am concerned about ending up with a page that at any given time is mostly not library generated information.

  13. In most cases I’d say follow back those who follow you. If people are genuinely interested in your library let them know you’re interested in them too.

    That being said there are also spammers who follow you that have only post tweets about their get rich quick schemes. You don’t have to follow those accounts back.

    Another good thing about mutually following each other is you can then send Direct Messages. So, say some requests a book via Twitter, you could then DM them and get their borrowing info privately.

    Oh, and I’m liking your @NHCPLYA tweets so far!

  14. In most cases I’d say follow back those who follow you. If people are genuinely interested in your library let them know you’re interested in them too.

    That being said there are also spammers who follow you that have only post tweets about their get rich quick schemes. You don’t have to follow those accounts back.

    Another good thing about mutually following each other is you can then send Direct Messages. So, say some requests a book via Twitter, you could then DM them and get their borrowing info privately.

    Oh, and I’m liking your @NHCPLYA tweets so far!

  15. Buenas
    Debo reconocer que antes no me molaba mucho elsitio,
    sin embargo ultimamente estoy entrando regularmente y esta mejorando.

    A seguir asi!

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