Thing 15 & 16: Twitter

I am currently stuck at home with an injured toe, I thought I’d get cracking on the next ‘Thing’.

15. Sign up for Twitter and find people to follow
16. Start engaging with your network using @replies and retweets

I already use Twitter (you can find me @Kangarooth), though I have only really started using it a lot since I began the trainee year.

The basic idea of Twitter is simple; you post updates of 140 characters or less. The updates, or ‘tweets’, of those you ‘follow’ show up in your Timeline. To reply or mention someone in your message, you add @ before their username. This message will then show up on their profile, which is a timeline of only their updates. You can also ‘retweet’ a message, which will show up on your profile too, and the timeline of your followers. To tag something, add a hash tag before the word, e.g. #23things.

As you can see on my profile below, there are my own boring tweets about my aforementioned injured toe, as well as a message I retweeted from @CILIPinfo. You can also see a selection of my followers and who I am following.

Rather nonsensical, the ‘Similar to you’ selection includes three people I am already following.



When I first joined, I thought it was for self-obsessed celebrities to post inane details of their lives. And though that is true to some extent, it’s actually an excellent tool for, though I hate the term, ‘networking’. I use Twitter these days to chat to other librarians, library school students, and graduate trainees. It’s been a huge help during my library school applications, as I’m able to ask questions to people who are actually there doing it. For example, I found out some great ‘insider information’ which helped me pick my halls of residence for next year at Sheffield.

Though I’m not denying that a lot of my own ‘tweets’ are inane and mostly about food.

An interesting feature of Twitter that I’m not familiar with are ‘Lists’. I think this is a way to group together similar Twitter users into categories. For example, Twitter tells me I have been recently listed in ‘Friends’, ‘Library School’, and ‘lis’. I had a look at one of these, and it turns out you can follow a list. I think this is essentially a mass follow, rather than selecting profiles individually, which is pretty cool. Though it stays separate from your Twitter feed, which I guess is good if you have a lot of people on there, so you can organise it and keep some categories separate.

I think a big problem with Twitter, for me, are seeing spoilers! As a lot of people will ‘live-tweet’ TV shows or events, it’s hard to avoid spoilers, especially when a spoilerific hash tag is ‘trending’. However, this is also a great way to get news before it hits the established press.

More libraries seem to be using Twitter now, but I’m not sure how effective it is. It is a great way to get information out quickly to your users, but it’s hard to say everything in 140 characters. That being said, if your readers are using a platform like Twitter, it’s important to reach them where they already are. It’s more likely to reach them then, rather than hoping they’ll visit the library website for information. Clare, the trainee at the History Faculty Library, has some lovely graphs in her informative post about the HFL’s Twitter profile.

There is also a great presentation by Ned Potter on 7 Reasons People Give For Not Using Twitter And Why They Can All Be Rebuffed With The Phrase: It’s a Conversation.

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