So, you and your library are not on Twitter. Big deal, right? Professional sporting events, political debates, award shows and cable news are pre-hashtagged, but what does it mean for you? If you’re feeling left out, and want to get into Twitter, I’m going to propose a two and half pronged attack:

The Institutional Account

The odds that you’re already producing the stuff you need to populate an institutional Twitter account are high: new LibGuides, new acquisitions, changes to your regular hours, programs, Ask A Lib services, etc. Twitter is just a free way to publicize what you already do. Before you sign up, consider:

  • Setting some policies about who will tweet, how often, and in what style to give your account consistency, and legitimacy
  • Setting a few more policies about how and when to respond to retweets, favorites, and mentions, favorable and unfavorable
  • How to incorporate your Twitter background page, icon and shortened links into the greater branding of your institution (if you’re not a stand alone kind of place, i.e. law schools that are part of larger universities)
  • Will this be fun for you? If no one on staff is going to enjoy tweeting, the product won’t show your best side. Twitter is a great way to humanize an institution, show that it’s made of individual voices that make one–but if you’re not feeling it, your Twitter voice will show it.

The Personal Professional Account

Networking, attending conferences, attending conferences that you’re not even in the same time zone as: let Twitter solve it for you! If you’ve ever felt like you’re missing out on what’s going on in the library world, or like your professional development budget is $5, Twitter can be a great way to get out there, without getting out there. In my own life, I call it “using the Internet to trick people into thinking I’m important.” And I have to say, reader, you’re here, aren’t you? For your personal professional account:

  • Consider making the icon an actual picture of you, or at least cartoon you. This is your brand!
  • Keep your tweets related to your professional life. This is your chance to promote your work, your institution, your ideas, but not your cat, or your dinner, or your shoes. Ok, a little bit of that from time to time is nice to show you’re not a library robot, but keep it pro.
  • Use your personal professional account to follow the hashtags of conferences you’re not at (because who can afford them all), but also conferences you are at. It makes the entire experience richer.
  • A little shameless self promotion won’t hurt you. Did you write a new Lib Guide for your library? Get it out there! It’s good for you, it’s good for your institution, and it’s good for someone who maybe wouldn’t have found the information without Twitter.
  • Above all, don’t make your Twitter feed a moment by moment account of your day, because it’s boring. Take this advice from Garance and ask yourself whether your tweet is relevant before you post it.

The Solely Personal Account

It can be a little fragmenting, I suppose, but so many things in life are more fun with Twitter. Find your friends at baseball games, follow food trucks, rave (or rant with caution) about new restaurants, share pictures of your animals. Don’t forget:

  • Be careful about turning locations on–I hear there are bad people on the interwebz.
  • If you’re taking a picture of, say, a playbook in your lap, be sure you’re wearing pants (I’m looking at you Chris Cooley, former Redskin).
  • Don’t forget your #natitude

#natitude by Meg & the rest of Natstown

If you’ve skimmed all this and still don’t think Twitter is for you, don’t forget that you can read people’s open pages without actually joining. Let’s do this again for Facebook a little later on!