Living in a digital world, part 7 — in which our heroine joins Twitter

Blue bird graffiti on a light post box in Winchester

Image cc license from Flickr user R_rose: http://farm1.staticflickr.com/53/113353654_446ec6af9d_b.jpg

Back in 2010, I attended a presentation given by Michael Stephens on libraries and social media entitled “The Hyperlinked Library — Trends, Tools and Transparency”.  As I had followed his blog Tame the Web for few years and had also read a few of his papers and presentations, this was possibly the first time I was looking forward to an event co-sponsored by our library association. I was impressed by his straight-forward, animated and engaging way of speaking and the fact that the presentation left us feeling excited and encouraged to try and use these tools in our libraries.  Although many of the newer staff had personal experience using LinkedIn and Facebook, our library was only just starting to create a Facebook presence and there was only a weak interest among staff and administration to take steps forward with social media, particularly Twitter.

I changed jobs and my new post overwhelmed me. I postponed thinking further about using Twitter or any social media for the library, hoping to get my feet beneath me before taking such steps.  So it is with a bit of sheepishness that I admit that I only finally joined Twitter last week. I feel a bit like a Johnny-come-lately, to say the least.

In addition to Michael Stephens’ inspiring presentation, SES and my husband had both made convincing arguments in favour of my joining Twitter.  Twitter could give me entrance and access to a wider community of similar interests, both academic and professional, with whom I could share information and experiences and from whom I could gather advice and ideas.  I would be able to have interactions and connections with other librarians, invaluable for a solo librarian if only because it would help me step beyond my home library and my personal echo chamber. I could gain better familiarity with a technology whose usage is still increasing and whose applications could be both personally and professional useful.

But still I dragged my feet.

I had what were, in my opinion, good reasons to stay away from Twitter.  For one thing, I was a bit concerned about the time commitment required to make the most of this tool;  I had enough on my plate with by RSS feed reader — a substantial amount of time was already required to read through posts, add and remove feeds as needed, and follow links to recommended posts from posts of interest. I was concerned I would spend too much time goofing off with Twitter, refreshing the page over and over, waiting impatiently for someone to tweet something interesting, or that I would quickly try to follow too many different people or groups and find myself overwhelmed with tweets, further aggravating my pre-existing condition of information overload.  Additionally, there was the issue of technology overload — trying to keep up with absolutely every new technology and all the trends in technology use and applications is time consuming, exhausting and never-ending.  Sometimes one wishes that one could just stop, say “enough, I don’t want to learn this one! Five social media tools are enough for me! No more!”

Admittedly, some of the more mundane and banal concerns held me back as well.  For starters, what username would I use?  As I prefer to not use my real name, could I think up something clever that had not already been chosen by any of the 140 million others already using the service? I really wanted to be @SomeCleverName rather than @SomeCleverName13.

Finally, what did I have to say that might be of interest to the wider world? This concern still remains and I imagine will continue to plague me for as long as I use Twitter.  In my first week on Twitter, I’ve contributed a spare 20 tweets, followed 20 people and organizations, and gained 7 followers. I’ve replied to tweets from friends and retweeted a few posts, tweeted videos from YouTube and tried out the direct messaging option.  In the future, there will doubtlessly be shameless self-promotion of Research Salad and awkward tweets with syntax problems and spelling errors as I try to accustom myself to the limitations of 140 characters. However, sooner or later, I will gain more confidence and better mastery of this tool… just in time to try and accomplish the same with whatever initially-daunting and -intimidating technology comes along next.

What is your advice for someone new to Twitter?  What tips and tools have you discovered?  Follow me or tweet me or comment here to share your experiences!

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2 Comments on “Living in a digital world, part 7 — in which our heroine joins Twitter”

  1. LoveStats says:

    Welcome to Twitter! My best advice is to follow the right people. Find 2 or 3 people whom you really like and then go through the list of people that they follow. Chances are you’ll find a great bunch of people to follow yourself. And don’t worry about sharing personal stuff like “i just baked bread” or “my tulips are up today.” People will enjoy reading your tweets far more when they get to know you as a person, not as a list of links. And lastly, always feel free to follow and unfollow anyone you like. Don’t get hung up on hurting someone’s feelings. It’s your feed. Enjoy it.
    @LoveStats

    • KRED says:

      Thank you for your advice! It’s reassuring to know that all my posts don’t need to be anything revolutionary or clever. In my personal Twitter account, I’ve managed to reply to other people’s tweets and retweet various things, but I have not yet quite gotten the hang of what to tweet that might be of any interest. Maybe I’ll start with “Why do all but one of my Irish coffee glasses match? How did I never notice that before?” and see how things go from there 🙂

      It’s particularly useful what you say about following/unfollowing people — I had started out following a couple well-known people who I thought might have useful content, but I’ve been a bit disappointed in their feeds — while they hype their own work (which is helpful, as it lets me know when something new appears), I have not found their retweets particularly interesting or useful. As they’re not people who actually know me and have thousands of other followers, I had hoped I could stealthily unfollow them without raising a stink.

      Thank you again! See you on Twitter!


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