Practice: Keep a diary for the last quarter of 2017, documenting the library’s Twitter presence including “Tweets”, “Retweets” and “Comments”.
Point of note: “Likes” will not be documented as they are usually numerous and the process would be too time-consuming – as a rule they are a weaker method of networking with the scientific community, as opposed to commenting.
Process: With the use of screen-grabs, describe the reasoning for each tweet/retweet/comment, who we are hoping to reach out to and the connections created from them.
Action: Mid-process, take part in an interview process to discuss findings (Meg Westbury, Wolfson College).
Background: Back in early 2014, the library established its feed with tweets limited to informational, mostly non-visual tweets only. At this point, the Library viewed Twitter as mainly being a passive, inward-facing online presence. Towards the end of 2015, with a new staff member (John Clarke) adopting the feed, the tweets became more impactful with the use of visuals deemed important attention-grabbing tools. Over the coming months, with help from our new Research Support Librarian, a very different proactive, outward-facing style came into practice with connections between the academic community developed via retweets and replies with posts usually containing visual information. We moved to a system of timing a tweet to release it at the point of maximum impact, to cram more data into each tweet by utilising the power of images, to adopt a more conversational tone and to feed back to the community about subjects close to our remit. All these changes made a big difference to the site traffic we experienced.
Methodology: As mentioned, with the help of our Research Support Librarian, Georgina Cronin, in early 2016 a new methodology was quickly established. She has indirectly discussed this practice and the reasoning behind it in her set of instructional video guides: 23 Research Things. Thing 5 covers the art of Twitter: https://23researchthingscam.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/thing-5-twitter/
Example: With the project officially starting on 11 September we took a snapshot preview of how it would run on the 1 September. Here’s how the day went…
Reason for posting: To inform our followers of an interesting article. It hits 4 of our perceived network bases: local, academic, library and university.
Reason for posting: To connect with a follower in a more personalised manner, extending the hand of friendship by advertising others and our own local scientific and academic user bases to their new collection. The use of several new popular hashtags extends its reach.
Reason for posting: To inform our followers of an very relevant article. It hits at least 3 of our perceived network bases: academic, open access and university.
Reason for posting: To offer an upbeat and offbeat view of the “trunk” image (see above) with intention of connecting the post to our scientific network base.
Reason for posting: To connect with a follower in a more personalised manner, extending the hand of friendship with an invite. Also alerts our local user base to our rather unexpected jigsaw collection!
Reason for posting: To participate in a regularly trending hashtag thus hopefully extending our network base. By using a book in our collections it alerts our local users that we do indeed have a fiction/literature section – an unusual but popular collection. By employing the face of a staff member (in this case, me) it further connects the local user to their experience of the library. (NB: This tweet was also seperately posted on our Instagram feed using different and a greater number of subject hashtags to extend its reach).
Reason for posting: To participate in a currently trending hashtag thus hopefully extending our network base. Specifically the choice of book title was deliberately scientific in subject area for obvious reasons. A CC0 image was used to catch the eye and highlight its point.
It look like being an interesting project to be involved with and I will post back here as it progresses and to summarise our findings at the close of the project.
Oct 2017: We have decided to stop documenting our posted comments on other’s posts as the process is just too time-consuming and pretty hard to keep track of.
End of project summary: After meeting with my library colleagues who all contributed to the project a number of things became instantly clear.
- We all benefited from the process which allowed us to consider the reasons and motivation behind why we do what we do.
- The analytics that we gathered were both surprising and immensely valuable to informing the methodology used.
- We realised just how vulnerable we as librarians could be when tackling potential hot potatoes by means of such a volatile medium. Positing political opinion, in particular, had to be very carefully managed to minimise the potential for backlash.
- Maintaining and building connections proved a difficult process for all. Social media is transitory by nature.
- Current thinking, particularly in the science subjects, is ever-changing. It is important to keep on top of and social media is such an important tool for doing so.
- We were able to recognise the negative views that are ever-present about the utilisation of social media by libraries; often relegating the process to an afterthought. Why is it so undervalued when it can have such a transformational impact on how libraries connect with their users and beyond?