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Tailor Your Tech

tailor

photo by hamron on flickr

There have been a few articles lately about young people and social networking. Mashable stated that “Teens Don’t Tweet,” and The Guardian said that the number of 15 to 24-year-olds on social networking sites in Britain has fallen. Both articles have received a number of comments with people disagreeing or talking about the exceptions to the rule.

When I come across stories like this, I’m reminded that social media is just another communication tool. Just because Twitter is constantly in the news and is the hot thing right now doesn’t mean that young people are flocking to it. And simply because Facebook is traditionally the realm of that 15 to 24-year-old demographic does not mean it will stay that way. It’s actually growing older.

Teens aren’t on Twitter because it is used in a much more professional or news-oriented way. It provides people a way to promote themselves or their businesses or network with strangers, which teens aren’t that interested in. The reason the Guardian gives for teens moving away from social networking sites is because there is so much growth among older people. Once your parents are doing it, it doesn’t seem so cool.

The important lesson to draw from this is, when you’re trying to connect with users via social media, don’t assume you know what they’re using. Do some research, ask around, observe what sites patrons often visit. These sites are all just tools for communication, and just because Oprah is on something doesn’t mean you have to be too.

The specific technology is not what’s important. Conversation and engagement with users is. Tailor your tools to your audience. It’ll save you a lot of time.

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Librarians are Social Media Butterflies

Tweetup at ACRL 2009 by srharris on Flickr

Tweetup at ACRL 2009 by srharris on Flickr

In my last post I talked about how libraries can be using Twitter to connect with their users. But Twitter also allows librarians and library enthusiasts to connect with each other. I’ve been seeing a lot of great Twitter conversations going on between people in the library community. These are a few:

  • #followalibrarian – I love this hash tag. It’s like #followfriday but for librarians. On Friday’s you simply tweet recommendations of librarians on Twitter and tag it with #followalibrarian. I’ve connected with a lot of cool librarians by searching for this tag.
  • #librarydayinthelife – The Library Day in the Life Project was the brainchild of Bobbi Newman. She created it to promote awareness of “the joys and challenges of working in a library.” People blog or tweet about what a typical day is like for them where they work.
  • Sharing Articles and News – I find that Twitter is often doing a better job than my RSS reader at getting me good articles related to libraries and social media. Good content on Twitter seems to bubble up to the top through people retweeting and discussing articles. I also find new and different stuff instead of getting updates from the same blogs over and over. It’s a way to broaden the scope of your reading.
  • Tweetups – Twitter isn’t just online, people meet up in person. I went a tweetup at ACRL in March that was a lot of fun. I’ve been to a couple locally in the Burlington community. And I just saw a Massachusetts tweetup get planned via Twitter. Social media is great, but meeting in real life can’t be beat.
  • Causes – Twitter is being used very well by librarians to promote library related causes. A recent one that come to mind is the movement to get a library themed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. Another is the Save Ohio Libraries movement that is spreading the word about the massive library budget cuts going on in Ohio.
  • Conferences – Twitter is great for connecting with other librarians at conferences.You’ve likely heard the old adage that the most helpful part of conferences are the impromptu chats in the hall between sessions. Twitter’s the virtual version of that. It adds a whole other dimension to conferences and makes them a richer experience. I followed the recent Handheld Librarian online conference hashtag (which was even a trending topic) and got some great info. It’s great to be able to learn about what’s going on at a conference even if you can’t make it.

I’m really loving this community of librarians on Twitter and feel much more connected to librarians from New England to New Zealand. Are there other ways you’re using Twitter to connect with your colleagues?