Thing 4: (1) The joys of Twitter

Thing 4 is enormous, and I have something to say about all three components so I’m giving each its own entry. First, Twitter. I’ve looked at a few Thing 4 posts and Twitter is not universally appreciated. If it’s not for you, fair enough, but please don’t dismiss it as silly. If you think that, then you haven’t yet learned to use it properly. It can be trivial, but remember its tagline is “Join the conversation”. I talk seriously to my real life friends sometimes, and at other times I talk a load of rubbish. Twitter is just the same, but virtual. If you don’t like one conversation, drop in to another, or start your own. It can feel at first as if you are talking to yourself, but eventually people will respond and what you make of it then is up to you. Here’s what Twitter’s done for me.

I’m a veteran user of nearly three years. I have my own, personal account @AnabelMarsh and I look after the library account @JordanhillLib. I find HootSuite really useful because it allows me to run both accounts at once, retweet from one to the other and schedule tweets, which is particularly handy for work. Even if you only have one account, it is worth using it, or a similar service such as Tweetdeck, because you can organise everything into columns rather than having to jump between screens as in Twitter’s own pages.

I try to make the work feed interesting and useful, and not just a rehash of information available elsewhere, such as the library web pages. In the beginning, I tried to cover all subjects that we teach, but it has become very much biased towards the Education students because a) I am effectively their subject librarian so I know more about their interests (and although I ask, other staff hardly ever suggest things I could tweet) and b) those students have engaged with Twitter far more than other groups. A few got really keen and set up a CPD session for their peers at which I spoke about @JordanhillLib and prepared a webpage, Twitter for Teachers. A couple of lecturers have also been very supportive and the overall result is that I have got to know them and the students much better and have put the library at the forefront of their professional development. For example, in anti-bullying week the students ran a CPD session for which I provided a reading list and I also targeted all my tweets that week to relevant topics. I got a letter of thanks from the Course Director at the end and the library’s profile was raised considerably. The immediacy and ease of use of Twitter has also been invaluable in emergencies, such as bad weather closures, when I can keep students updated from wherever I am and, because the feed is embedded there, visitors to the library’s home page will see the messages too.

I don’t have any problems with using my full name for my own feed, and I don’t regard it as being specifically professional. I do follow lots of librarians and organisations connected with my work, but I also follow local people to share restaurant tips and so on,  and other accounts which reflect my personal interests. Sometimes quite random connections can be made when you just happen to be tweeting about the same thing at the same time as someone else and one of you picks it up through a hashtag or search. I must say, I certainly get a lot more out of Twitter than I put in, collecting great links for my own use as well as to pass on to students via the library account. My cpd23 resolution is therefore to try to put more value in myself.

So what have I learnt from this part of Thing 4? As I said above, I should try to share more on my own account. I’ve shared lots for work, but the future of @JordanhillLib after the campus closes is still under discussion and it won’t be my responsibility any more. However, I could offer the experience I’ve gained running it to other organisations I am involved with which have yet to try Twitter, or have only done so in a small way. Finally – I have learned how to embed tweets in my posts. Not sure when I will need to do that again, but, hey, I’m showing it off now!

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Anabel Marsh

I'm a proud Glaswegian who loves to go gallivanting both at home and abroad. Join me in my travels, both historic and current. Credit where credit's due: photography mostly by my more talented other half, John.

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