Monday, 11 June 2012

Come on in the water’s lovely...

I must confess I have never understood the appeal of twitter... I can text my friends about what I had for breakfast if I want to, while Facebook lets me see what people are up to in a bit more detail and helps me keep in touch with friends who live a fair distance away.  I hear about the misguided tweets of politicians and celebrities on the radio and have decided that I’m not interested. However, I had never approached Twitter from a professional standpoint. Again, leading on from the personal branding exercise of Thing 3, it’s all about taking control of the content I choose to release to the world: I can keep my choice of cereal or the fact that I like chocolate spread on toast every now and again firmly to myself! So this week, armed with my new personal brand -induced confidence, I jumped in...

And it was ok! Through the initial recommendations from Twitter I reconnected with an old friend from Uni which got me off to a good start. She said I should think about it as being in a cafe: it’s ok to listen to other people’s conversations and even join in too. 

Taking this advice to heart, I chose a few Libraryland names to follow including my local academic library’s reader services desk (Newcastle University:  @nulibrs) so that I could see what the practical applications are when using Twitter to promote a library. It’s an active account, with retweets of topics of interest in the city and prompts to users about the Library such that day’s opening times  - I think I’d have found that really useful as an undergraduate.

I also picked out Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) who is another active user. This week he tweeted about an article by Brian Proffit  (“Millennials aren’t so tech savvy”) that challenges conventional wisdom about the technology skills of young adults. Imagining that I was talking to Ned at a sophisticated cocktail party (rather than at home in my kitchen in the middle of the washing up), I sent a tweet to ask if this rang true with his experience in an academic library. He very kindly ignored the state of my yellow rubber gloves and replied while also forwarding the question to a colleague. Armed with new knowledge, I was able to follow up the conversation with some of my own research into the process of engaging students in information literacy training through problem based learning. 

What a result! I would never have made such swift progress through the sea of blogs and info available if I hadn’t accessed that professional network via Twitter.  I can definitely see the usefulness of this approach and I’ll be trying it again soon.

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