• Mylee Joseph June 9, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Alison Cullingford June 9, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    You make a great point in the first paragraph. This is a perennial problem in Special Collections in particular as services vary so much in size and resouces. I’ve been mindful of it in my own Handbook. However I think smaller services are actually at an advantage in dealing with social media as we are nimble and can decide things quickly. I’ll reply to the twitter questions by email as I think it may be a long one.

    Anyway, the twitter questions -

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Alison, yes the nimbleness is a good point. I think generally with multiple people staffing the same social media account, you need guidlines within which the individuals feel empowered to act. It has taken me a while to reach that conclusion – I’ve read so many ‘You don’t need a social media strategy’ scoffing articles, and also so many ‘You NEED a social media strategy!’ that I had mixed feelings…

  • lynne June 9, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    We try to reply to everyone, even those that don’t use the Twitter name and whether comment is good or bad. Normally if they don’t quote us but are commenting on service we try and ask them further details, kind of along the lines of how can we help. Must admit sometimes it feels stalky and we haven’t replied to everything. I can give you an example via email if you want. There is a team of us doing it and at first I’d say tone was professional but friendly, think we are becoming more personable as time goes on, introducing ourselves to students etc. Must admit I think the balance of tone is a hard one, look at first capital connect tweets, these I think are too personable, but is that due to what I expect from a company and should a university library have the same tone or be more personable, after all one of the things we strive for during induction is to show how approachable we are.

    Who replies is more down to who is tracking tweets that day than topic.

    One of my concerns is retweeting non-library content. I do have worries about this as sometimes I think some of the things retweeted aren’t appropriate, however I’m not sure if that is me being protective of my baby, as I set up the account and was solely responsible for it until just recently.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Lynne, thanks for your comment, that’s really useful. So in effect are you using a rota in terms of a team member tracking tweets each day? Has that worked well?

    I think the journey your tone has been on seems like a common one with Twitter generally, and seems about right to me. You can’t go straight in with being very familiar and friendly, but you can move towards it over time.

    The retweeting non-library content is a tricky issue – personally I’m all for libraries doing this, as it adds value to the whole thing and offers a service (links to useful non-the-library things) which is harder to offer any other way. But certainly when you’re a library which is clearly part of a larger institution then you need to be ever mindful of that. On the one hand we have to be thinking “I hope this fits with the overall brand” but on the other hand, social media is personal and more informal than most things, so we could do without being hampered by second-guessing ourselves all the time… Difficult.

  • Laura Waldoch June 9, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    We use Twitter @theUL and have found it to be very successful. It is managed by two of us, but one is on sabbatical at the moment. We have just over 2000 followers, so the numbers aren’t massive, but on average get @mentioned once or twice a day. Generally, these are very positive, and we do try to reply to them all or to retweet anything interesting or funny that doesn’t have an obvious reply. Sometimes it doesn’t happen (if we are both away for example). Once we had someone complaining about one of our rules (no water in the reading rooms) and I did try and explain why in a lighthearted way. I am not sure this worked 100% “still think it is draconian, no other Cambridge library has that rule” etc but at least there was a bit of a conversation and he saw that there was a reason behind the rule, even if he didn’t agree with it. We have never had anything more negative than that as an @mention.

    The great thing about Twitter for us it that we can be more informal – obviously we don’t put personal opinions up and are mindful that we are “speaking” on behalf of the organisation – but we can link to things of interest that wouldn’t be put on the website or ask opinions about things to gain an immediate, cursory response. Someone tweeted us with a picture of the ducklings in our courtyard recently. We re-tweeted it and got lots of response (re-tweets, “how cute”, etc). That would never have been mentioned on oan official site, but it brought out lots of nostalgic and affectionate responses to the library, which we would never have seen otherwise.

    We don’t consult with colleagues (unless we don’t know the answer) and just reply to something if no-one else has (by looking at the Twitter timeline).

    We don’t search for other (non-@) mentions of us although we have an automatic program that would do it – people must know we are on Twitter and if people don’t @ mention us I consider that to be an active choice; they don’t want a response. I did see a dig at us by someone once (non-@ mentioned), which made my blood boil, but it would have felt like eavesdropping to suddenly wade in. Also it would have drawn much more attention to it (she had 100 followers, us many more), so I just let it lie.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    First off Laura I’d say 2000 followers was pretty good!

    I like your approach to retweeting. I wonder if that is the answer (I’m mindful of the caution I expressed in the reply to the previous tweet! But…) – just to have confidence in what you’re doing and go with it. Fear-based librarianship is too prevalent as it is.. (although very often understandable.)

    Good point about the social influence of the complainer too – it’s something to take into account, and I’d not thought of that in this context before. Thanks for your comment!

  • Wilda Williams June 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Ned Potter June 9, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    All input gratefully received: I'd love to hear from libraries who use twitter, re: @ replies: Please RT – thank you!

  • Jane Higgs June 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    We (@WalsallLibrary) try to keep up with questions and comments by checking the Mentions tab. I am probably the only one who does this, as I was in at the beginning setting up the Twitter feed, whereas (theoretically at least!) there are lots of librarians who can tweet. Others will reply to questions if they happen to be checking the feed when they come in. We try to encourage our followers to DM us rather than just tweeting, though, as this is easier to keep up with, and eliminates having discussions with borrowers in a public forum. This also makes it easier to get the tone of communication right – especially if people are complaining or otherwise need to be communicated with in a more formal way, they can be given contact details of a librarian to talk to more easily. As far as communicating about complaints via twitter goes, really we just apply exactly the same rules as if we were communicating in any other forum.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Hey Jane, thanks for your comment. Interesting about DM’ing – seems to be a mini theme emerging with some places. Do you encourage them by way of a reply to their initial @ comment, or is it flagged up before hand that people should DM you?

  • Andrew S June 9, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    I’m the emerging tech/ILL person for Jack Tarver Library in Macon, GA and I monitor our Twitter account and related searches. I’m going to try to answer these in some semblance of an order.

    Even though we advertise that we’re on twitter we don’t really get any @ replies. I have searches set up that I look for the name of our library and a couple of other combinations of things to see what, if anything, people are saying about us. By and large they don’t really mention us, but…if in one of my searches I see they’ve said something about the library I’ll engage them.

    For example, one person was complaining about the noise level and I engaged her in conversation to find out where she was, what day, and offer some suggestions that she could do to help us. I use the library’s twitter account so that it seems to be coming from an official channel and I keep the tone civil and pleasant…granted I haven’t really had much to reply to though.

    I decide what to reply to and if I see something (well if I ever see something) that I’m not sure about I’ll consult with others.

    The searches I look at our specific to our library name, our university name + library, and things like that. I don’t think its stalking to keep an eye on what people are saying about us (I know major companies do). But I actually monitor these searches from my personal account. I only use the library’s twitter account for official communication and I don’t want to accidentally say something on the library’s twitter feed.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Hey Andrew, that’s really interesting, thanks. I agree that monitoring what is said isn’t stalking – I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do. I’m more concerned with how replying to the people who’ve not @ mentioned us will make them feel – will they think it’s weird? I’ve occasionally mentioned a company on Twitter (without referrng to their twitter account) and been @ replied by them, and it did feel slightly odd… but ultimately if they handled it well, it was good marketing / customer service. I suppose judement on a case by case basis (that old staple) is required…

    By the way, do you know Chris Macklin in the Music Dept? If you see him, tell him Ned says hi! :)

  • Annie Johnson June 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    We (@NewnhamLibrary) haven’t had Twitter for that long, only a few months, so still finding our feet a little. We don’t have a huge amount of followers, so so far it’s been easy to read and respond to all @ replies. I manage the Twitter account by myself (there are only 3 people working in our library) and I tend to use a friendly, personal tone for replying, not overly professional. I wouldn’t say that our tweets in general are that formal, I like to put a bit of personality into them. About 50% of our tweets are retweets, but this tends to be useful things shared by other libraries such as new resources etc.

    I don’t follow everyone back automatically, but follow literary alumna and retweet if they announce a new book or something like that. I’ve got RSS feeds of a few Twitter searches set up so if people talk about the library without directly @ mentioning us, I’ll know, but so far have not replied to any of these as that does feel a little stalkerish!

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Thanks Annie! With regards to following back, I wonder if this is worth doing as standard in order to give the patron / customer etc the chance to DM you? I can see arguments both ways…

  • GameCouch June 9, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Claire Back June 9, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    I look after @plymlibraries I use Hootsuite to monitor mentions, but I’m also finding the emails from Twitter useful, mainly because neither Twitter or Hootsuite work properly with IE7 so I was missing stuff.

    If someone following us mentions us I reply. Generally if it’s a complaint (I’ve only had a couple) I’ll DM them. Most people are positive though, which helps. If someone says something nice I do RT it and say thanks. I try and thank those who RT us as well.

    I have a search set up for any mentions, but I generally don’t reply if they’re not already following us. We have had discussions about it and I’d be interested to know what others do.

    I’m quite informal, I think that’s the nature of Twitter. My name is in our bio which I think is important, people like to know there’s a named person behind the account. Plymouth also has quite a large Twitter community and I attend our local social media café regularly which means I’ve got to know many of them in real life which helps.

    I do RT things. Anything that I think our followers might be interested in especially local information, but also useful links, news etc.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Claire, I like the approach you have to RTing and thanking people. I think there are different implications to doing that as an organisation than there are as an individual, and that it’s definitely always worth doing as a library account. I also like the name in the bio – originally in the relevant book chapter, I had a section about using your Twitter background to display pictures of the tweeting team (assuming the profile pic will be of the library or the logo) – but now stupid new twitter doesn’t have any free space where the background isn’t covered by something. Bit of a shame really, as it makes for a missed opportunity.

  • Niamh June 9, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    @efllib we don’t get many mentions with or without the @ symbol, but I check regularly and respond quickly when we do. There’s no question of filtering! We don’t invest a huge amount of time on it though because the feedback from students in our subject area is that very few of them are on Twitter anyway.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    Hi Niamh, that’s interesting – how did you get that feedback, through informal (anecdotal) channels or some kind of survey or whatever?

  • Alison Wallbutton June 9, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    I am one of two staff members who have primary responsibility for our Library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. I monitor our Twitter account (@Massey_Uni_Lib) via Tweetdeck so I can keep an eye on @ mentions and reply to them. We definitely try and take a lighter tone with our FB and Twitter communciations – although as yet we haven’t had anything critical or abusive that might warrant a more official tone. We have had our Twitter account set up for a few months and only have a small number of followers, but this is increasing slowly! It is always interesting to see the comments that do come through. We consult with colleagues where necessary – particularly as we are a multi-campus library and sometimes we need to check about campus specific issues. As yet we haven’t done any monitoring of any other mentions of our library.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    Alison, thanks for the summary – I was hoping you’d get involved with this thread…

  • Jessica June 9, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Like several others have mentioned, we don’t have so many @replies that keeping up with them is a problem. We are @AldenLibrary and we’re really the only library on campus, aside from our music library, and a lot of our mentions are people just saying that they are at the library.

    I generally do most of the Twitter-ing and responding, but I confer with my department head for comments that are really critical or deal with complicated issues. It’s generally a judgment call, just like we’d handle a complaint at the desk.

    We do occasionally respond to comments that are clearly about us but don’t use our handle. The most recent example of this was a patron who had assumed that we just failed to turn on the AC when the weather turned warm, when really it was just not working. Generally though, we do not respond. We do pay attention to this type of feedback through local searches (by RSS feed) for words like “lib,” “librarian,” and “alden.” We definitely ReTweet praise, though not every time. I’d say we definitely respond to every instance of a question or specific comment where someone is “talking to us.”

    As far as tone, we keep it pretty positive, and I generally use “we” rather than “I.” We have several librarians on Twitter, so we’re able to add personalization that way. We don’t include a name in our bio, but I’m not dead set against it. It’s something I think we’ll consider in the future.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    Jessica, it’s a good point about the desk – essentially the same rules should apply online as in person, for handling complaints (and the judgement calls that entails).

    You and Andy both mentioned the local searches which is something I cover in the chapter, it’s a good idea but I wondered how easy you found it? In terms of, depending on the name of your institution there might be a LOT of extraneous stuff which is nothing to do with you at all – do you find that? I work for York University Library so if we set up an RSS feed of local mentions (which I’d like to do soon) I imagine a huge amount of searches that picked up ‘library’ or even ‘york + library’ would refer to the local public library branches or even the other local University. But perhaps that’s not a big deal; it doesn’t take long to scroll through to the relevant stuff.

  • Andy Burkhardt June 9, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Ned, for our library (@champlib) we do set up significant search alerts. I have alerts set up for different words like “library,” “citation,” “research,” etc. within 10 miles of our college. I often find students writing that they are working on a paper or research project and try to help them. One example of this is here (

    I think you raise a good question about is it sinister and stalky or is it proactive and good. My take on this is if you are helping someone it is proactive and good. When I respond I don’t say “use the library,” I say this ebook or database might be perfect for you. And as for is it stalky, when you set up searches like that you are not looking for specific people or following specific people. You are following things that are related to your library and trying to help people who might not even think of the library. Oftentimes the people that I tweet those things to are people I am already following anyway, so I might see it regardless.

    As for responding to mentions, I respond to everything that needs response. If it’s positive I thank them and show appreciation that they like our services. If it’s negative I address it too. Here’s one example of that (!/champlib/status/11714021745).

    The tone that we use is not overly professional. This is after all ‘social’ media. We try to balance being fun and helpful. It is definitely not just us posting all about ourself. We retweet students’ posts about doing well on a paper or retweet community events that are going on. A good question to ask when you tweet is “is this fun, valuable, helpful, supportive for students. If no, maybe try changing what you’re posting.

  • thewikiman June 9, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Hey Andy, thanks for wading in. 10 miles is a lot! Do you not get absolutely loads of mentions then? How do you deal with the searching through to find the relevant stuff – do you just treat it is as no big deal?

    I’d agree with you about helping people being the defining factor in what is or isn’t stalky feeling.

    I think you’re right about things needing to be fun as well as helpful and supportive, but that can be hard for libraries just starting out on twitter, I think. I shall address it in the book…

    By the way, I really like this tweet from @champlib. Everyone should do this sort of thing. :)

  • Ned Potter June 10, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Wow, loads of really helpful comments on the 'libraries using twitter' post – – thank you all for your help and RTing!

  • Mylee Joseph June 10, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Wow, loads of really helpful comments on the 'libraries using twitter' post – – thank you all for your help and RTing!

  • Laura Waldoch June 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    With regards to following all your followers (Annie’s point above), we have started to get “commercial” followers (basically people trying to sell things or debt collection agencies). We could never follow them as it would make it look like we were promoting them. When you start having a “we will follow everyone except…” policy, it becomes very time consuming as you then have to read every bio and monitor tweets to ensure they don’t fall foul of your rule. I do see the point about DMs though.

  • thewikiman June 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Laura – yeah that’s a good point too, obviously following EVERYONE back would be wong. But surely it’s not too tricky to pick out the salespeople when you’re checking new followers?

  • Lynne June 10, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Hi Ned, In response to your question, we don’t rota who is checking the account, it’s a case of who spots it first. There is a mixture of staff from frontline and subj. libs with access to the account and trying to rota it would be difficult to say the least. Luckily we have only replied twice to a tweet once, we are careful about checking sent tweets before replying to make sure we aren’t overlapping.

    We have got social media guidelines but they are more to do with blogs than twitter. To be honest I think they could be looked at again, especially as new issues have arisen since they were first written. When the twitter account was first set up it was probably less than official (actually initially created to feed our blog posts into our subject page!), now twitter is far more successful than the blog (though nowhere near 2000).

    Tone is a thorny issue, I think our institutions tone can be quite “staid” which doesn’t mix well with twitter. I think that by being more personable hopefully makes us more approachable, however wary of being too friendly as well as do we then lose any “authority”, I’m thinking here that we are representing to library to everyone in the institution from Provost down, plus externally as well. I think some people at least understand/expect a certain professional tone from any organisations twitter account.

    My concerns over retweeted content comes from some of that content coming from scientific papers and I don’t feel we may be the best judge of the science in those papers to know if we should be retweeting and perhaps lending it more credence? This is something I think we need to look at in detail for both the blogs and twitter, certainly should be included in any new guidelines we set up.

  • Annie Johnson June 10, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I agree Laura, we get a lot of commercial/spam followers too (including the odd slightly dodgy one causing my librarian much concern – “Annie! Did you see we have a porn company following us? Can we get rid of it?!”). Even if we ignored these and followed all of the others, I think our timeline would then be too full for me to quickly see what is relevent and useful to retweet. The accounts I do follow tend to be all literary or technology related so the proportion of wheat compared to chaff is relatively high. Though of course Ned is right and there are benefits and problems either way, but this is what is working for us so far!

  • thewikiman June 10, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Thank you both, that’s really useful.

    I think that’s a key thing to remember about written social media guidlines – they need looking at and re-assessing a lot more often than we’re used to in libraryland…

  • Jane Higgs June 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Hi Ned! As far as encouraging people to DM us is concerned, we just say in our profile to DM us with questions, etc. It doesn’t always work, but if someone asks something via a tweet and it seems appropriate, we will DM them the reply. This also gives an easily referenceable record of the conversation. I find it exceedingly irritating that the new Twitter doesn’t have an alert on the home page of how many unread DMs you have – as the old version seemed to – meaning that you have to remember to go in and check for new DMs instead of just being able to tell straight away.

    On the “who to follow” debate: we are finding this difficult as well. Obviously we want to follow all our legitimate sounding users (i.e. not companies or people in different countries), but we are now finding that even though we are only following 158 people (we currently only have 423 followers) it’s very easy to miss things as there’re so many tweets coming in. This means that it’s easier to miss @questions, etc, unless you specifically search for them. As a result I have stopped automatically following everyone who follows us, but don’t really know how to make it fairer.

  • CILIP June 10, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    #Libraries using Twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies? by @theREALwikiman #CILIPBlogger cc @niamhpage

  • TheDIYLibrarian June 10, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    #Libraries using Twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies? by @theREALwikiman #CILIPBlogger cc @niamhpage

  • calimae June 10, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I run the main Twitter account for my library (we have quite a few subject-specific accounts as well, which I have no part in). I absolutely read all @ mentions for the account, but the majority of the time they don’t need a response. When someone actually directs a question at us, I respond as personably and professionally as I can.

    There have been a few times that I’ve had to consult with other people on the response (the tweets are contributed by several departments, so when there’s a question about a specific tweet, I have the dept that submitted it provide me with a response to post), in one case because the question seemed like it was baiting us to take a position on a controversial topic. I generally respond using @ so that those who might have seen the question can also see the answer, but in one case we replied via direct message at the request of the dept answering the question.

    I definitely have searches set up to look for mentions not using our handle -I think many people don’t realize we have a Twitter account- but I’ve only once responded or retweeted anything I found that way (it was a picture someone took of the library). The searches include more than Twitter, too, so I can know where we’re being mentioned and can decide whether to tweet about it or not (i.e. when a particular group is having a meeting at my library).

    I would like to do more with the mentions that we get (retweeting, etc.), but there are two issues: 1) reference work is my primary responsibility, so I can only do Twitter stuff when I have time (and I don’t want our followers to think I’m purposefully ignoring them if I retweet one person’s mention and not someone else’s), and 2) it’s a federal library and I don’t want to send the wrong message, particularly since I’m a contractor, not a fed, so it could literally be my job if there’s a serious misunderstanding. Number one is definitely more of an issue than number two, but number two lurks in the background with a lot of things I do, Twitter or otherwise.

    The whole federal thing also means we limit who we follow to federal agencies and other reputable organizations (like the Red Cross), so people asking questions/making comments have to @ us rather than dm. Some fed accounts do follow just about everyone who follows them, but personally I prefer limiting who we follow so that it’s easier for me to skim recent posts and find things to retweet that would be pertinent to our audience.

  • Emily June 10, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    I am the sole manager of my library’s Twitter feed. I also maintain the library’s FB page w/ a colleague. I have quite a bit of freedom w/ Twitter because, frankly, I don’t think many people in admin really understand what it is or why it’s important so I don’t think they even look at it so I tend to take a more relaxed approach to it when responding to people.

    I’ve been pretty lucky so far in that people don’t @ reply critical things. Were they to do so (like they have on FB) I would send concerns on to the responsible party and wait to send a response (or direct that person on to one of our administrators). I do retweet praise on occasion but I usually just respond with a general friendly, “Thank you!”.

    I try to be as personable as possible. I think it’s important for people to see that we’re just normal folks and, perhaps, it takes away the anonymity factor and that’s why people maybe reserve their harsher judgements (the comments section of any online newspaper will show you how mean people can be on the Internet). Being a public librarian makes this easy for me to manage. I just talk in my “I’m on the reference desk” voice when replying to people. Charming, friendly and helpful but still professional.

    I only consult with others if there is a question I can’t answer or if there is something of a political nature involved. I’m not one who is good with politics so I like to have a rational and political savvy person help me respond.

    Because my job isn’t entirely “social media” (I’m also youth services librarian at a fairly busy branch) I don’t take all the time I should to seek out indirect mentions of the library to respond to. I feel that it’s important but not the most important part of my job.

  • Andy Burkhardt June 10, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Ned, my actual searches aren’t just “library” they are more like “library -itunes -css -c++ -midi -html near:05401 within:10mi.” If I keep seeing some of the same irrelevant things pop up I am able to filter them out. This gets searches down to a manageable size that I can easily scan the tweets in my reader, seeing what is relevant of not.

    It is definitely true that it is difficult for libraries starting out to find that correct tone for being fun and interacting with patrons. I think it probably takes practice and understanding your patrons. Good luck on the book!

  • Jessica June 11, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    You’re right that the local search thing is dependent on your location. Athens Ohio is pretty small, and I’d say about 90% of the time people use “library” they are talking about us, not the public library. We also have really only one campus library, with a specific name, “Alden” library (+ a little known music library) which is usually shortened to just “alden” or “club alden” if people think they are being funny. These are pretty easy to find.

    I’m sure this wouldn’t be as easy in a larger town or a school with multiple libraries. The fortunate thing about having just the one campus library is that our account can be just @AldenLibrary, which people often use just to say that they are at the library. They’re not engaging with us necessarily, but they are sharing our name with their followers, and I think that does help us build our follower base.

  • CSI Edinburgh Napier June 12, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    #Libraries using Twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies? by @theREALwikiman #CILIPBlogger cc @niamhpage

  • ALA_TechSource June 13, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Philip Sherman June 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • marie d. martel June 13, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Bill Drew June 13, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I wish we had this problem. We don’t get any responses/replies for the most part.

  • Enoch Park June 13, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • lioneldujol June 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Frank Huysmans June 14, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    RT @ALA_TechSource: Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Malea June 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Garrett Eastman June 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    via Alison A RT @theREALwikiman: Libraries using twitter: how do you approach the thorny issue of replies?

  • Katherine June 20, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    This is super relevant to me, as I am the main Twitter point person for two different public libraries. So thanks!

    I do read and reply to all @ mentions. Most of the negative mentions I am able to remedy the situation and provide a solution. I have never seen an abusive mention. I do thank positive mentions and retweet them when they are particularly creative or charming.

    I try to strike a tone similar to the one I use when interacting with patrons face-to-face. I would never sound like a press release or memo in person, so why sound like that on Twitter? Of course, I’m not as informal as I am on my personal social media accounts. I’ll use emoticons and occasionally shorten words when necessary to get the point across in 140 characters, but I try to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation as much as possible.

    As I am the main person who Tweets at both libraries, it is expected that I take all responsibility for responses. For a while, we split the job between two of us, but that resulted in duplicate or missed responses. It is easier to have multiple people create content, but only one person respond to @ mentions. Even with over 800 followers, this has proved do-able in just a few minutes/day.

    I do use Twitter’s search funtion to find other mentions of the libraries. I reply to almost all of them, even if just to say “Thanks for coming by” or “Let us know how we can help you while you’re here.” The patron response has been overwhelmingly positive – I think most people realize that their tweets are public information. A few times people have seemed confused or creeped out, in which case I just drop it. Over all though, this has proved to be a very effective technique for gaining followers and handling patron complaints, so I won’t stop for the few people who seem bothered.

  • thewikiman June 27, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Hey Katherine, thanks for your comment! Nice analogy with press release / fact-to-face. Agree about the spelling – that’s a really good point actually, that in social media people associate informality with text-speak (“Library info lit session tonite – c u l8r! :) “) when of course it is perfectly possible to be both informal and grammatically correct, and indeed that’s what we should be striving for…

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