Thing 5: Professional Networks

hyde“Dr Jeckyll is to my twitter as Mr. Hyde is to my facebook”.

This is of course a slight exaggeration but I’m glad that Siobhan has given the choice between facebook and twitter with this task, It must be a common phenomenon for people to use one for professional and one for social purposes. It’s not that I have anything to hyde (*looks away shiftily trying suppress memories of empty student days filled with how-wide-can-you-open-your-mouth competitions being documented with photos and plastered over Facebook – not attractive*) but there are certainly some things that are best left withheld from work-related circles.

I’m actually a little bit precious about my twitter account; I’ve carefully curated special interest lists and selected people to follow who I deem to be insightful and interesting individuals – it’s been a process of cultivation. In this information age it’s easy to take for granted all of the networking platforms we have available to us but, ever the one for mindfulness and acknowledging the things I should be grateful for, I’m often reminded what a nifty tool Twitter is. The essence of twitter is how current and concise it is – divulging relevant information often straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ve admired it in many different formats, from “Chats” like #UKLIBCHAT (which by the way is hideously fantastic!) to the running commentary taking place at conferences and seminars – it adds a further dimension to these events and, (ever the one to indulge in childish tendencies) – it sort of makes you feel like you’re one of the cool kids at the special party that not everyone’s invited to.

It’s short. It’s sharp. It’s concise. It’s worryingly addictive but you can feel good about it because (if you’re doing it right) you’re not mindlessly reading rubbish. I designate 10-20 minutes to reading my twitter feed per day, it’s useful having a smart phone because you can do it in that empty time when you’re waiting for your train / queuing for your coffee / hanging around for your late friend to turn up / early for the meeting… you get the picture.

I was a late-comer to the party and at first, found the terminology and hashtags difficult to get my head around. It was just a case of practising using It though and it was quite simple.

I’ll finish off with some great examples of excellent twitter usage. Librarians have a reputation for being resourceful and there’s no exception here, I’ve seen libraries using Twitter to admirable effect. You should certainly check out Orkney Library’s twitter feed if you haven’t already (click here) They post hilarious tweets and have developed so much awareness through this alone. They’ve used Twitter so successfully that they now speak at conferences about their success. Here’s another link to an article about the man behind it all and how.

Ned Potter, an academic liaison librarian at York University, and trainer has posted some really useful things about social media being harnessed as a promotion tool for libraries. I’ve inserted a link to one of Ned’s slideshows which is useful if you’re new to using twitter.

An introduction to Twitter (for academic research).


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