3 Ways for a Library to use Twitter

Today was #followalibrary day on Twitter. Search for that hashtag and see what you find. It’s really interesting. Many libraries use Twitter already, but I’ve recently spoken to some librarians who have told me they don’t know how to use it or they don’t understand what use it would have in the library. Librarians are busy, eh?! Yes. Very busy. However, Twitter is simple, and not time-consuming (unless you choose to make it). Here are 3 ways a library could use Twitter.

1. Twitter can be linked to Facebook. This is useful if you’re not ready to watch the Twitter feeds and make lists and follow other people and use hashtags…oh, stop being scared. If you can get as far as creating a Twitter account and linking it to your Facebook page, you can make your usual updates on Facebook and never open Twitter again.

2. Learn about other libraries quickly on Twitter. Do you want to know how other public libraries are preparing for Banned Books Week? What are other academic libraries preparing for the new incoming students? By following other libraries on Twitter, you form a quick, clean, network of libraries. You control whose updates you want to see and you choose whether or not you want to give your own updates. You can be an ‘observer’ on Twitter, but I think interacting is much more rewarding.

3. Okay. You’ve considered Twitter and you’ve joined and watched and now you’re ready to try to be a little more active. Here’s the first thing to think about. Who do you want to watch your Twitter feed?

Do you want to give information to users? [You can tweet about your hours of operation, branch openings, renovations, blog updates, new additions to the collections, links to surveys, announcements if there are unexpected closings or web site downtimes, etc]

Would you like to attract non-users to your library? [In this way, your tweets need to reach people who don’t officially ‘follow’ you. You want to tweet about specific databases or collections that would attract people who wouldn’t necessarily think to use the library] For example: tweet about new releases and author visits to attract people who buy many of their books. Or, reach out to those folks who are into sports by creating a booklist about basketball or soccer or the olympics and compose your tweets so they use those “hot” words.

Each time you create a message to send out on Twitter, you need to think about your audience.

I think libraries and Twitter can and will begin to agree more and more with each other in the near future. My plan is to write another post about this soon — including ideas about reader advisory and reference services to followers.

If you’re looking for libraries to follow, here are some I follow:
@dcpl — D.C. Public Library
@kcls — King County Library System
@piercecolibrary — Pierce County Library
@uwlibraries — University of Washington Libraries
@askccref — Carl B Ylvisaker Library — Moorhead, MN
@nypl — New York Public Library
and more…

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