Update: Cynthia Gregory, who works at MSJ Library, added some helpful info – check out the comments! Basically, they locked the account when they initially set it up, and I saw it during the set-up process … and apparently Twitter suggests followers for new users (I don’t think it did that when I signed up). So I’m glad – MSJ Library seems to be on the way to a great Twitter account. Again – not picking on them, and I think there’s some good stuff to ponder in my post (’cause I HAVE seen other organizational Twitter accounts that are locked). As always, your mileage may vary!
Every once in awhile, a library follows me on Twitter. When they do, I usually check out their Twitter feed (but rarely follow them). And every once in awhile, I see something like this.
This isn’t “Pick on MSJLibrary Day” – I’m sure they’re a fine library, and I commend them for jumping into Twitter to figure it out. But maybe this post will help other libraries as they work on figuring out social media sites like Twitter.
What are they doing right?
- Named themselves with a form of their library’s name. They’re the library at the College of Mount St. Joseph.
- Added a picture of their library
- Added a web link to their library website
- Their bio is great: “Helping You Research, Learn & Connect”
What are they doing wrong?
- Updates are locked/protected. This means that no one gets to see their updates unless they follow MSJLibrary … and MSJLibrary has to approve all follows. This is bad. Most Twitter users want to see someone’s tweets before they start following that user, so it’s an added hassle to send a follow request/wait for the request to be approved/then check out the tweets. I’d rather not bother with it. But more importantly – they have, in essence, locked their front door. I’m guessing they don’t do that at the physical building … so why do it here?
- Following the wrong people. Look at their following list – They are following other libraries, CNN, ALA, me, National Geographic, etc. Only about 3 of the 35 tweeps they’re following are in any way related to Cincinnati. But a quick search shows LOTS of Cincinnati-related twitter accounts. And a search in something like TwitDir or a “near:cincinnati within:15mi” search in Twitter Search finds LOTS of Twitter users int he Cincinnati area. It makes more sense to me for a Cincinnati-based academic library to follow other people/organizations located in Cincinnati. Extra credit if they follow MSJ students or other MSJ-related accounts (which they’re not).
- I said their bio was great … but since they’re locked, it doesn’t make much sense – they can’t help you connect if you CAN”T connect!
And I should say this – there’s nothing wrong with following me, CNN, ALA, or the National Geographic. In fact, following others is a great way to start figuring out how to use Twitter. But when you test out a new service using your organization’s name (ie., MSJLibrary), the organization ends up looking a bit less than professional. Start off learning … but use a personal account to do it (and for the record, I’ve killed more than one service at my library for that very reason).
Before you create an organizational account, do some planning and goal setting. Answer these questions:
- What do you want to get out of it?
- Why are you setting it up?
- Who’s going to maintain the account?
- Who’s going to answer tweets?
- Who do you plan to connect with?
Answer these (then stick with the plan for awhile), and you’ll be well on your way to organization twitter success.