I love Twitter. I really do. I use it constantly and am almost always connected to it. But it drives me crazy sometimes. So here are my tips for using Twitter effectively at work and in your personal life. Most of this is wisdom that’s already out there. Don’t get pissy if you don’t like the rules – they are mere observations and suggestions – take them as you will. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game. (Oh, yes, I did just say that…)
Add people as friends so you can DM
If you manage your library’s Twitter account, make sure you friend your Tweeple when they friend you. When you’re both all good and friendly, then they can Direct Message you. And that means they can ask you questions without the whole world listening in. And that works for us – we’re librarians, people need to ask us things.
I just saw a great series of tweets in which a person tweeted a particular company saying “Will you please friend me so that I can DM you? I’ve got a question.” Really fantastic of them to ask! And even better that the company did it!
If you can’t abbreviate well, don’t do it all
Okay, maybe I’m old. I haven’t taken the Pew Millennial Quiz yet, so maybe it’s a generational thing and I dont’ get it. But there’s such a thing as too much abbreviation. What more can I say? If you need to abbreviate to the point of omitting all vowels and multi-syllables, then maybe your message needs a different outlet.
If you tweet more than three times a day, it better be awesome
Here’s the thing. I follow a particular library that tweets, oh, 12 times a day? The thing about that is that I don’t allow the tweets from that organization to make my phone go “ding”. (That sounded dirty, eh?) I have a lot of tweets that do make my phone go ding – people who don’t tweet often but tweet with relevance. Plus, I don’t need my phone dinging all the time (oh, this is just getting worse and worse…get your minds out of the gutter!) So, basically, if you tweet to much, you’re annoying and you will be banned from the list of relevant tweeple that I want making my phone go “ding”.
If you can’t fit it in two tweets, then twitter isn’t your forum
I think that’s concise enough isn’t it? Dude, you get 140 characters. If you need more than that, you have a ton of other options. You can always blog and then send the link via Twitter. A good time to use two tweets? Comedic timing. Granted, I’m not that funny, but y’know – tweet one is the set up…a few seconds later, the punch line in tweet two. @thepioneerwoman is really good at that.
Don’t just output – retweet, comment, respond
People say this again and again. Why don’t others listen? You are boring boring boring if you’re only talking about you. Twitter is a conversation. And you are a library professional. Twitter provides great information – we have to move that info like a drug dealer! Pass it on! Share it! Comment on it! A great retweet from @tac_niso says it best: “RT @learnpublishing Twitter is like a dinner party – If all you talk about is yourself no one will want to talk to you @electriclit #toccon”
I’m such a freaking hypocrite!
I tell you not to share so much, then I tell you to share share share everything. Here’s the thing. We’re all smarty pants people here – you’re going to get a lot of word puke, but if you’re good at determining what’s actually not smelly grossness and is real content, then you’re doing good! Kind of like when you get a reference question and you sort out the best materials for a patron and don’t just walk them to an entire section of the library.
Be mindful of what you tweet from conferences and meetings – we need some context.
You’re at a conference? Listening to a great speaker? That’s wonderful! Oh they’re funny and saying brilliant things? GREAT! Here’s the thing…1) if you tweet too much, you’re breaking the three times a day rule and 2) often, the tweets are out of context for the rest of us. To be fair, there are some people who tweet meetings and conferences very well, and to you, I say thank you. It allows those of us not in attendance to learn.
Use more than one platform to track your account – Twitter, Hootsuite, Ubertwitter, Echofon… I use both the regular Twitter page and Hootsuite to track my Twitter account. Like anything else, different tools provide different perspectives and options – you can get a fresh look at what’s going on and maybe see things you’ve missed. I love being able to search for key words using Hootsuite.
Set up searches for you and your organization – Make sure you’re setting up searches for you and your organization name. Hootsuite will display the search results (as will other similar sites) and you can track conversations occurring about you and your org.
After 24 hours it might not be worth responding I have mixed feelings about this. If someone tweets your library a question then you should respond even if you got it overnight. But in terms of negative publicity, sometimes it might be best to let it just blow over. If a grumpy 20-something tweets “The library stinks” and you don’t see it for 24 hours, you might just want to let it pass. It’s not worth stirring the pot, so to speak. However, if you feel you caught it as it happened or it is truly blasphemous, then you may want to direct message the person or politely respond publicly.
See how the Air Force assesses with social media issues here.
When you rant, rant with care.
It’s my job at work to approach those who tweet about my company. If they rant, I quickly follow up. It’s shocking how many people are surprised that we follow up on tweets – HELLLLLLO, it’s a public forum folks. If you tweet something negative OR positive it will be seen and companies (and people) don’t like being dissed in public. I’ve been known to see a negative tweet, help the person out, and then request that they re-tweet something positive. Why yes, that does take balls.
Link everything If you blog or put something cool out on Facebook, then link to it via Twitter. Use Twitter as your speakers and amp – your blog as your microphone.
Have people initial If mulitple folks on your library staff are using the Twitter account, then have them use a two letter inital at the end. It helps you keep track of who is tweeting what, and builds personality into the Twitter experience.
Speaking of personality If you are tweeting for your library, you might not want to have multiple people tweeting. Develop and voice and style and stick with it. Is your Twitter account purely informational? Funny? Educational? People will begin to have a specific expectation of your account so find the voice that fits you and stick with it. Remember your audience when making the decision as well – what’s funny to you and I may not be funny to Joe Patron. Don’t piss off the tax payers.
Don’t be so sensitive.
I recently watched a popular member of the Twitterverse launch an attack against another member of the Twitterverse when the person sent out a link on a sensitive topic. Person A (the attacker) didn’t feel that Person B (the attacked) didn’t provide enough context for the article and felt that it was a negative and horrible thing to be tweeting. Turns out Person B was horrified by the content of the article and wanted people to be informed. Before slamming someone, maybe DM them and say “hey, what did you mean by that” or politely ask publicly what is up. Hundreds of people ended up slamming person B, following in the footsteps of Person A. Person B was quite upset and genuinely shocked – and I stopped following Person A. (Did you catch all that A, B, A, B???)
So, there you go. Glad I got that off my chest. Hope I didn’t offend any of you. If I did, please see my last point.
I’m interested in hearing your Twitter pet peeves.