Last week, the director of Miller Library, where I serve as the Technical/Public Services Librarian, asked me to start a Twitter account for the library. My eyes sparkled and I almost became giddy with excitement because I seriously heart Twitter. I adore the connections that I’ve made with various information professionals, moms and bloggers. I also consider myself a bit of a Twittervangelist (I’ve written a tutorial for Twitter as well as a post about the benefits of Twitter) but I’ve never started a Twitter account for an institution before. Should I have let my boss know this before hand?
Goals and Objectives
Even though the director asked me to set up the Twitter account, we still needed to decide why we wanted our library on Twitter and what we hoped our patrons would gain from interacting with us (and what we hoped to accomplish). Then there were the “minor” details:
- Who would be responsible for updating/maintaining the account?
- Would there be rules for following people?
When I use Twitter in my personal life, I use it as a way to connect with others who share my interests or are knowledgeable about something that I’m interested in, I also use it as a way to share information from my blog. But institutional accounts operate a bit differently than personal accounts.
Therefore, our goal, though similar to my personal goal, is to use Twitter to connect with our patrons without being invasive (in other words, we won’t actively seek them out but we’ll encourage them to come to us). We also want to use Twitter to promote new books and movies and highlight services and events that our community members may not know about. One of the cool things about our library is that we act as a branch of the local public library too, so we don’t just serve the college community, we serve the local community as well.
Getting the Name Right
Next, I wanted to get the name right. All institutions have an official name and then they have their AKA (also known as), which is similar to your birth name and then the name that everyone calls you. Our institutional name is Harry K. Miller Library but everyone tends to identify us with our institution, Keystone College. So I did a bit of research to find out how other academic libraries handle the name game and found out that many identify themselves by their institution and then put their actual name in the bio section of their profiles e.g. Weinberg Memorial Library at The University of Scranton. After talking it over with the director, I settled on @KeystoneLibrary for our Twitter handle.
Making It Fancy
After establishing goals and getting the name right, I set about customizing our Twitter page. Some people access Twitter via mobile devices or desktop applications such as TweetDeck and Seesmic but many people still use the website, so I wanted to make sure that our image is inviting as well as representative of who we are. I did a search for free (we’re a library, we heart free) Twitter background and selected one with reference books. For our icon, I used a picture that I took of the library with my handy dandy Droid.
If You Tweet They Will Come
Well, we all know that’s not necessarily true. Connecting with followers requires good marketing skills, a need (on the side of the patron) and a bit of luck. The goal isn’t simply to collect followers, the goal is to connect with library patrons and community members so now it’s all about marketing and promotion.
The marketing/promotion plan is to:
- Put up signage in the library to let people know that we’re on Twitter
- Post a link to our Twitter account on our library’s website
- Announce that we’re on Twitter through the college’s newsletter
- And Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
As I told my director, Twitter is free and if we find that it doesn’t work for us, we can always disable or delete the account. The point is that we are trying something new and, hopefully, finding another way to connect to our patrons.