I joined Twitter in 2008, roughly 2 years after it was created. To be honest, I first joined it after becoming frustrated with the clogged news feed on Facebook. However, shortly after joining I realized it could be used for much more than connecting with friends with less distraction. The ability to connect with individuals and organizations that I would not otherwise have been able to connect with is immensely useful and entertaining. It can also help streamline my online experience. One of my favorite uses of Twitter is to follow news sources and blogs I enjoy, similar to using an RSS feed. I also like that I can connect with my favorite authors.
Twitter can be useful to libraries in that they can get the word out about their collections and services to patrons who generally wouldn’t take the time to check the library website or pamphlets. Libraries can also connect more easily to patrons and potential patrons and do so in real time. Twitter is more about having a conversation – talking with your patrons rather than talking at them.
However, Twitter does have a few downsides. Due to its informal nature, individuals and organizations sometimes do not carefully consider what they post. This list of Twitter scandals shows what can happen when someone tweets without considering the response. It’s also easy to either overuse or underuse Twitter. Having an account and posting too many times a day is just as bad as never posting. A good balance is important, as is a balance in what is posted.
Twitter is a great medium for both individuals and libraries to gain and spread information, as long as consideration is given to it’s use.
At my last (non-library) job, we were actually beginning to implement social media more, so I did have a bit of a chance to work on a social media policy, albeit an unofficial one. Many of those guidelines could translate to a library, as well.
Identify yourself as a library employee. We want to be candid about who is posting from and to our accounts. If you are using a library related social media account or you are using your personal account to comment on our profile or blog, be open about the fact that you are employed by the library.
When posting as a library employee, avoid using the account as a platform for your own agenda. Your personal political, religious, and social views are not necessarily those of the library or its users, therefore it is inappropriate to use the library account to espouse those. Please reserve that kind of posting for your personal, non-library account and use the library account for library-related posting only.
Keep your library posting and personal posting separate. If you do identify yourself as a library employee on your personal account, include a disclaimer stating that you are not posting on behalf of the library and that your views are your own.
Maintain a professional attitude when posting. Be polite when responding to commenters, even if those commenters are not polite to you. Avoid engaging in any online fights. Be respectful of the library users and your coworkers. Remember that you are representing the library.
Don’t disclose any sensitive information. If something isn’t supposed to be public knowledge, do not share it on the library’s accounts or your personal accounts.
Make sure what you post is accurate. Any information you post should be double-checked to ensure that it is factual and/or contains the correct scheduling information if needed.
Use common sense when posting. Remember that nothing on the internet is every truly private, nor can it ever truly be deleted. If you are unsure whether you should post something, check with your superior before doing so.
I chose to look at the online presence for the clothing store Urban Outfitters, because I was aware they had recently received some criticism for their clothing and certain practices. I started by searching for the company in the Google. I found several negative articles and blog posts including “Urban Outfitters Under Fire over ‘Holocaust T-Shirt’,” “How Urban Outfitters Peddles Ironic Conservatism, Hipster Racism and Other Terrible Values,” “18 Reasons Why Urban Outfitters Is The Worst,” and “9 Urban Outfitters controversies.” The feminist entertainment blog Jezebel.com seems to be one of the leaders in Urban Outfitters criticism, with thousands of results returning from it.
A brief scan of those negative posts and others show’s that Urban Outfitters does occasionally respond to the criticisms, however they do so only sporadically. These responses tend to be in official statements released by the PR department in response to a request from a news outlet. In the instances that it was a clothing item that is found to be the center of the criticism, Urban Outfitters has pulled the item from the website or stores, but this isn’t always the case.
I then searched for the company name using Tweet Scan, but it was only returning results from several years ago. Instead, I moved on the Social Mention. The Twitter mentions on there seemed to be primarily positive and consisting of mentions such as “Urban Outfitters still has free shipping. Life is good.” and “When I went to Urban Outfitters today I felt like I was heaven, oh my ffffffff.” Any negative mentions seemed to be focused on the prices of the items for sale.
Finally, I searched Yelp for the Urban Outfitters in several different locations across the country. The locations tended to have a mid-level rating with negative comments consisting of complaints about the price and quality of the items and the customer service. The company has not responded to the complaints on Yelp.
To see how Urban Outfitters interacts with its customer base, I looked at its website, Facebook, and Twitter presence. Its Facebook and Twitter posts were identical. They primarily consisted of sales and item advertisements, but included the occasional social post such as a picture of one of its buyers’ apartment and a playlist to beat the Monday blues. The website included a blog in addition to the items for sale. The blog seems to be the area where the company tries the most to connect with its customers. It includes snapshots into the life of company employees, music, art, jokes, videos, interview and contests. If not for the posts mentioning their products, it would be easy to mistake this for an entertainment blog.
From my observations, I determined that, though often the subject of controversy, Urban Outfitters has a loyal customer base. It therefore seems to feel little incentive to respond to the criticisms, but instead focuses on connecting with its current customers.
My name is Kim Woolery. I just recently moved back to Missouri after spending 4 years living in San Diego. I already miss it! I received my BA in English and Writing from Drury University in 2006 and I’m in my 8th semester at SLIS. I spent the last few years working for a respite care agency, but now I’m looking for new work. I would ultimately like to work in youth services.
Last semester I took the Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies class where we addressed Learning 2.0. That class (and I suspect this one, as well) was an eye-opening experience for me, but not in the way I expected. I was in high school when blogging, Myspace, and personal websites began to become popular and college when Facebook, Youtube, and Wikipedia began. I, and those around me, integrated the idea of the read/write web into our lives fairly easily and I often have a difficult time remembering the time before it. Therefore, I often forget that this isn’t necessarily the case for many people involved in the library and information fields or many of the library users. Learning about the issues surrounding Web 2.0, defining it, and figuring out how to incorporate it into the field has helped me not only better understand Web 2.0, but also the experiences of those whose background is different from mine.
This is partially why I found the Partridge article so interesting. It was fascinating to read the various responses concerning “Librarian 2.0.” Seeing how professionals in the field defined it and viewed their participation in it prompted me to think about several things I hadn’t before. I could discuss the entire article easily, but for the sake of space I wanted to touch on a few items from it that really struck me.
The first was the section that stated “One participant commented on the fact that we do not insist that all librarians like to read, so why than [sic] should we insist that all librarians have a Web 2.0 presence?” (Partridge, 2011, p. 258). This is an interesting point and I both agree and disagree with it. I don’t think it’s necessary that every librarian have a large Web 2.0 presence. Though the field is evolving, Web 2.0 is certainly only one aspect. However, that’s greatly simplifying the situation. A lack of love of reading won’t necessarily negatively affect a librarian’s ability to do is or her job. For example the ability to sit down and enjoy a novel isn’t necessary to provide good reference service. Focusing solely on Web 2.0 would be to the detriment of the field, especially since a large part of the user population doesn’t need or isn’t able to access that type of service. However, the lack of willingness to adapt to Web 2.0 could negatively affect a librarian’s ability to do his or her job as we move towards a more digital culture. It’s not necessary to be an expert, but an attempt to understand is definitely a benefit not only to the patron, but to the librarian. After all “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” (General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army).
A second section that struck me was the idea that “Participants unanimously agreed that the 2.0 librarian should possess a complex array of personality traits. One participant even declared that personality traits were more important than skills” (Partridge, 2011, p. 260). While I certainly don’t agree that personality traits are more important than skills, the idea that Librarian 2.0 should be flexible, adaptable, and willing to try new things is something I agree with. In fact, the idea that the library and information field is one that is changing, and in many cases changing rapidly, is part of why I’m so excited to be a part of it. It’s one of the few fields where we have the ability to experiment with new platforms and different subjects, while still working with the users to best serve them.
Partridge, H. (2011). Librarian 2.0: It’s All in the Attitude! Proceedings of the 2011 ACRL Conference.