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Thing #8 – Twitter

October 24, 2010

WHAT

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: “What’s happening?”

Twitter bird

Twitter is a microblogging service. Essentially, its very much like a blog, in that it’s a service that allows users to publish information; however, the amount of information it will let you publish at one time is tiny—they are text-only and limited to 140 characters. These updates are known as “tweets.”

Twitter is certainly one of the big buzzwords in the media. Time magazine has called it technology that will change the way we live. Iranian dissidents used it as a primary means of communication, both with each other and the outside world, as they protested the outcome of the disputed presidential election. And over five million people for some reason find enjoyment out of following the daily life of Ashton Kutcher.

Twitter Terminology
If you start a tweet with another user’s name, like @StCharlesLib, the message is considered to be a “reply” to that user. The reply that you typed with their name will show up in the user’s replies page on Twitter.

RT stands for retweet. It’s very much like forwarding on an email you’ve received from one of your friends to another group of friends. If you really like a tweet that someone else posted, you can retweet it to your followers by prefacing that same tweet with an RT.

Hashtags are Twitter’s form of tags (tags are Thing #13), and you must include the hashtag for your subject in the tweet. To create a hashtag, you simply preface the word you want to be the tag with, you guessed, it, a #. For example, if I’m tweeting about 23 Things SCPL, I’m going to use the #23scpl hashtag. That way, I will be able to pull up all posts about 23 Things SCPL just by searching for that hashtag.

For more Twitter information, take a look at this Common Craft video:

WHY

Widespread adoption of Twitter is a relatively new, but it has a number of potential uses for the library workplace – many of which are listed at Twitter for Librarians: The Ultimate Guide, Why Twitter? and also at Twitter Explained for Librarians. Bobbi Newman has recently written a great blog post about using Twitter as a library employee.

Twitter’s usefulness will also probably increase as we get more and more always-connected “smart devices.”

If you are worried about your privacy, you can go to the Twitter settings (top right corner) and select “Protect my updates.” This means that only people you have allowed to “follow” you can see your updates.

If someone begins to follow you, you do not have to follow them back. Just take a look at their page, and see if what they’re saying is interesting to you. If it’s not, then just ignore them. There are also spammers on Twitter that just tweet the same thing over and over. These tweeters are completely automated and will do nothing but tweet advertisements. Don’t fall for it! Fortunately, Twitter is getting much better at catching these spammers.

HOW

You have two options.

A.

  1. Read the articles about how Twitter is being used in libraries.
  2. Read Twitter 101 to gain a little more knowledge about how Twitter works.
  3. Find some Twitter users who you are interested in (a lot of celebrities and authors tweet). Try searching for their name to see what they’re tweeting about.

–OR– the more fun option

B.

  1. Sign up for Twitter!
  2. Read Twitter 101 for a little more information about using Twitter.
  3. Follow some people, whether they are other 23 Things SCPL participants or celebrities or friends or whoever.
  4. Post at least 5 tweets. Trust me, it’s more fun the more people you follow and the more you tweet and retweet. Think about using the #23scpl hashtag if you talk about 23 Things SCPL so we can see everyone’s tweets in one place!

SHARE

What are some advantages you can see with using Twitter? How do you think the library could use Twitter better? If you signed up for Twitter, think about sharing your username in this blog entry. If you did sign up for Twitter, do you think you will keep using it? Why or why not? Name this blog post Thing #8.

STRETCH

You must sign up for Twitter to participate in this stretch exercise. As you tweet, try to use an @ reply, RT something you think is interesting, and use some hashtags.

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