Writing for the Web: Tip o’the Week – Twitter

Twitter logoEverybody’s tweeting these days! Libraries, university departments, local mom-and-pop businesses, mega-corporations, even actual human beings. Twitter can be a great tool for libraries to communicate with their patrons, but it can be (and often is) done very badly, doing more harm than good to the library’s public image.

I found a very good, brief slide presentation from The Library Marketing Toolkit: How Not To Tweet. The slides show some example tweets from a fictional library account and explain what’s wrong with them – for example, the fictional account is not making good use of the “bio” field, and some of their tweets are full of jargon. This quick 23-slide presentation is on-target and makes some excellent suggestions.

Minnesota librarian Emily Lloyd put together a useful and engaging “dos and don’ts” list for public libraries using Twitter – well worth reading for academic libraries too: Some Notes on Tweeting for Public Libraries. For example (and this is a mistake I’ve seen many, many times):

Importing a Facebook status, with no re-editing to make it work for Twitter, often results in ellipses followed by a link–and often what’s preceded the ellipses gives no real indication of what you’ll find by clicking the link (so why would you take time to do so?). Sometimes the ellipses come at a particularly awkward or embarrassing point, too, like the one I saw about an author visit that started out slowly describing the speaker: Name of Writer is from blah blah blah, where he was a son of a…[link] Sonofagun.

For those who are new to Twitter, this basic introduction from Mashable will explain some of the basic concepts and terminology: The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.

Do you follow @iulibraries – or any other library accounts – on Twitter? (If you’re still looking for tweeters to follow, check out my Twitter list of library, tech, and UX folks.) What seems to work best? What gets your attention? Even when you have only 140 characters to work with, it’s still writing – and a little strategy goes a long way!

 

Author- Anne Haines

Web Content Specialist in the Discovery & User Experience Department, IU Libraries. I've spoken at events including edUi, Confab Central, Confab Higher Ed, IOLUG, ILF, the IU Libraries' Digital Library Brown Bag series, and the Libraries' In-House Institute. You can find me hanging out at the intersection of content strategy and librarianship, singing a doo-wop song under the streetlight. Follow me on Twitter: @annehaines