Tips for using Twitter in an Academic Context

 

  • Language– Many libraries tend towards formal language because of the nature of the institution represented. Academic libraries tend to be more formal and prestigious than public libraries. According to an analysis of how libraries use Twitter by Nora Aharony, academic libraries usually use a more formal tone and focus on drawing attention to their collection and services. Public libraries are usually more conversational, using Twitter to engage with patrons and promote specific events at a library. (Aharony)
    • If more than one person will be posting to your account, it is important to discuss the general tone for the account. You want to make it seem as though just one person is posting by keeping the “voice” of the library uniform amongst your staff.
  • Create a positive internet presence– In 2012, Del Bosque Darcy, Sam Leif, and Susie Skarl conducted a study of over 200 academic libraries to see how they were using Twitter. Surprisingly, only one-third of the academic libraries they looked on Twitter. Those that were, according to the researchers, “are (not) making use of available Twitter tools to enhance their accounts and their interaction with followers” (Darcy 211). Even the few libraries that were on Twitter were not using the nature of the social networking site to their advantage. But how can librarians address this issue?
    • In the article published about their research “Libraries Atwitter: Trends in Academic Library Tweeting”, Darcy et al made a few recommendations for how libraries could get more involved in the Twittersphere. Librarians, they say, will be more effective in using Twitter if they participate in using hashtags and twitter handles. It is essential that you educate your staff about using Twitter’s features to get a better experience; make sure they know how to use hashtags and tweet back at patrons, so the library can participate in Web 2.0. Web 2.0 refers to the ability to share and interact on the internet.
    • In his article “Making Web 2.0 Work — From ‘Librarian Habilis’ To ‘Librarian Sapiens” published in the Computers in Libraries Journal, M Cvetkovic contends that Web 2.0 is the new frontier for libraries. He also says that librarians need to be properly trained in social media technology. Cvetkovic makes the point that maintaining a positive online presence means constantly updating and evolving with the technology.
  • Frequency– Most students follow many people on twitter, so it’s important to Tweet fairly frequently to make sure your posts are being seen. A person’s Twitter feed is updated in real time. So if the library only sends out a Tweet at 9am and most of their followers don’t check Twitter until 5pm, there will already be hundreds of Tweets on their feed prior to the one tweet from the library.
    • One of the ways to make sure your tweets are seen are by making sure that your followers are retweeting your content. According to a study by Hae Min Kim, Eileen Abels, and Christopher Yang, university organizations retweet content from academic libraries the most and students retweet the second most. It’s important to see who is retweeting your content, so you can be sure to create tweets that will interest them.
  • Content– When conducting my interview with an academic librarian who helps to run an academic twitter account, she spoke a lot about the struggles of coming up with content. It’s important to have a number of people contributing to coming up with content and brainstorming ideas of what should be tweeted and when. Having interesting content is essential to gaining followers and engaging those you have.
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