I learned a little bit about Twitter in SJSU LIBR 282 Marketing Your LIS Skills in a Networked and Changing World, and now I will be trying it out for SJSU LIBR 246 Web 2.0. Much of my knowledge at this point comes from these two classes.
Scott Brown, my professor for LIBR 282 taught me that Twitter is a microblogging tool similar to text messaging. Well, I love text messaging, so I should love Twitter, right? He lists the advantages of Twitter, including price (free!); quick set-up; two-way communication; and ability to find and follow peers, thought leaders, potential customers, and locals. The course I took with Scott was about self-marketing, and he pointed out that Twitter can be used to Tweet your blog posts (reminder to self: Tweet this blog post…), list your specialties, etc.
Scott Brown’s steps to getting started: (1) sign up at http://www.twitter.com, (2) create some Tweets, and (3) start following people. OK, let’s get this party started: @AnnMcGinley1
Lindy Brown (no clue if she’s related to Scott) does a great job at giving an introduction and history of Twitter at Twittering Libraries. She also explains the pros and cons of libraries using Twitter. Ms. Brown writes: “Twitter is easy, fun, free to use, is a great marketing and public relations tool, allows for collaboration amongst staff and community, provides opportunities for professional developing and networking, has strength in its brevity, and allows libraries to meet many of their patrons ‘where they’re at.’” I especially like the fact that Twitter sends the message that a library is hip, proactive, and technologically savvy. It’s not just a place filled with dusty book shelves!
Ms. Brown also states: “While most libraries say there are few negatives to using Twitter, they do share some problems with the service: its brevity, the fact it hasn’t caught on with patrons quite yet, it’s another thing to update, fellow staff members are hesitant to use it, and the fact that it can be a time-waster. A few librarians mentioned technological problems as well.” In my previous blog post about library staff social media policy, I recognized that social media can be time-consuming, and staff work load will need to be redistributed to make time if a library is serious about using Twitter effectively. Knowing your patrons is also important to determine whether or not Twitter will appeal to them. Twitter will definitely be a time-waster if no patrons follow your Tweets. Ms. Brown does mention that the technological problems that were common when Twitter was new are less common now. It seems to me that as long as you have a patron base that embraces Twitter, the other negatives can be managed.
At this point, I don’t have much of my own opinion of Twitter because I only just created an account. Perhaps some people with more experience can enlighten me and extend this conversation by leaving some comments. Why do you love or hate Twitter? How do you use it, personally or professionally?