Twitter 101: Pet Peeves & Rules to Follow

I’ve been tweeting now @mrlibrarydude since 2008. By no means do I consider myself an expert, but it’s something that I find enjoyable and absolutely worthwhile professionally. Through Twitter, I’ve been able to connect with a great group of librarians, and other people interested in higher ed and technology. Through it, I’ve received lots of great ideas and advice. In fact, it’s usually the first thing I check when I get into the office. Here, I have developed some rules to follow, along with a few “pet peeves.” What do you think?

  • No bio: Make the effort to write a short bio on your Twitter profile. Don’t make me guess. Who are you? What are you interested in?
  • Re-tweets: Occasional re-tweeting is completely OK. I do it! But don’t let all of your tweets be re-tweets. Try putting your own spin on a re-tweet: do you agree, disagree, have a differing point to make about what you are re-tweeting? Tell us!
  • Zero tweets: Do not start following hundreds of people without tweeting something yourself. I don’t follow people with zero tweets.
  • Professional v. Personal Twitter accounts: You will find disagreement on this. Personally, I’m not a stickler for the professional v. personal Twitter accounts. I tend to be somewhere in the range of 70% professional tweets and 30% personal tweets (e.g., weekend fun, Flickr photos, daily musings). I like some levity. Reading people’s personal tweets often brings a smile to my face. Just beware of posting something that reflects poorly on your employer if you have indicated where you work in your Twitter bio. Libraryland is a small place.
  • Foursquare check-ins: If you have a Foursquare account, please TURN OFF the automatic post-to-Twitter setting. I don’t care if you’re at home, at work, at Target. An occasional post-to-Twitter is OK—especially if you’ve discovered a new place, good food (maybe I want to know!), or it’s something library-related.
  • Extended Tweet Statuses – Yes, I know you can now write more than 140 characters. But the point with Twitter is BREVITY! If you can’t say it in 140 characters, then blog it instead.
  • Hashtag love – Not sure if your followers will understand what you are tweeting? Then include a hashtag. Make it something understandable to your audience! Although I must admit that, as a librarian, I had no idea what the #hcod hashtag first stood for when all of the HarperCollins tweets started coming across my computer 😉
  • Negativity – this is the “Debbie Downer” tweeter, or the person with NOTHING ever good to say about anyone or anything—I get it. It’s your way to vent. But I’m not interested in it and I won’t be following you.
  • Private Profiles – This does bug me. If you’re going to follow me, then why is YOUR profile private? I understand people who want to use Twitter more for personal or “fun” activities might want a private profile. But, if you’re using it for professional purposes, why not make your profile public? It’s a good way to network.
  • Live Tweeting at conferences: Proceed with caution. For this to work, the tweet should display the following qualities: needs to stand on its own—I should not need to know about any prior content. It should also provide a good idea, interesting concept, or a helpful hint.

What are some other Twitter “pet peeves” that I missed? Leave a comment!

Game On: Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries

Businesses have adapted to the social media landscape by offering up prizes and promotions through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other applications. Libraries, too, have joined in the mix. Last month, I posted on the COLLIB-L and PUBLIB-L discussion lists looking for ideas that libraries are using with social media. Specifically, I wanted to know what types of promotions, contests, or prizes that libraries do for such activities as:

  • Friending the library on Facebook
  • Following the library on Twitter
  • Checking-in at the library on Foursquare (or becoming “mayor”), or similar check-in apps, etc.

What follows are suggestions and ideas from libraries (and thank you to those that responded!):

  • McCain Library at Agnes Scott College in Georgia holds regular “Tuesday Trivia” contests. Trivia questions are posted to the library’s blog, and also promoted through its Facebook page. The library director told me, “Questions are posted on Tuesdays and the first person with the correct answer wins prizes such as donated theatre tickets, coffee shop gift cards, flash drives/similar swag collected at conferences, etc.”
  • A public library in California is also thinking of doing a trivia contest. For example, a monthly trivia contest might ask patrons to search the library’s online databases for the answer, and post it to the library’s Facebook page. Winners would receive a prize, or be entered in a raffle.
  • Mudd Library at Lawrence University in Wisconsin has experimented with posing questions on its Facebook page and sending prizes via campus mail to those who answer (prizes such as carabineers, mugs, and notebooks). On Foursquare, the library runs a check-in promotion with users: anyone checking in three times at the library on Foursquare wins a mini-notebook and pen.
  • The Kansas City Public Library (another one my fave public library’s on Twitter) held a Twitter Trivia Contest relating to famous catchphrases and slogans that complimented a lecture at the library by an author who writes on the same topic. Winners received a copy of the author’s book. Also, check out their promotion/contest via Facebook and Twitter to meet LeVar Burton. Great ideas!
  • McMaster University Library in Canada attracted new followers to its Twitter account by sponsoring a contest where users tweet how they use the library. Winner received an external hard drive as a prize.
  • Provo City Library in Utah sponsored a Facebook contest relating to an author that was speaking at the library. Users were asked to post a Facebook comment about the author & why they liked the book. Winner received tickets to the author’s lecture and a collection of books.
  • As for prizes, I was contacted by In My Book, which makes bookmarks. Worth a look!

Does your library offer any promotions or specials with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or other social media applications? What kinds of of prizes or “freebies” do you pass out? Post it to the comments section below!