Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tweet Week - final thoughts

By the end of Tweet Week I had fairly mixed feelings. It was pretty obvious that, as suspected, it is impossible to check Twitter and comment every 20-30 minutes and still get a lot of work done. And while comments left on earlier Tweet Week blog posts suggest that quick visits to Twitter between sessions of productivity could be the way forward, I still found that just being conscious that I was logged in to it could be enough of a distraction at some points to keep me from focusing on the job in hand - hence my grand total of 4 tweets yesterday!

However, it also proved very useful for certain things and I did get more value from my increased involvement than I had expected.

Here are the complete stats from the final day of Tweet Week:
No. of tweets: 4
No. of replies: 4 (a balance is found in the Twitterverse at last)
No. of retweets: 0
No. new (genuine) followers: 1
No. new spammers (now blocked): 0
No. new followers who are probably spammers but not offensive so I haven't blocked them (yet):3
No. of complaints: 0
No. useful and productive conversations: 1

Thursday was extremely helpful and I will certainly use Twitter again when looking for examples and opinions from other librarians. Twitter allows networking much more easily than Facebook does, probably because Twitter doesn't hold so much personal information so people are less concerned about who is following them, where as Facebook can make it all a bit too personal and scary. You can of course either have a separate professional account or you can very carefully filter the content with privacy settings, either of which can be a lot of hassle (and who wants to risk a load of librarians seeing those drunken photos of you at your cousins wedding??).

There are now also listings of librarians in Twitter directories, such as Twellow, WeFollow and JustTweetIt which can be useful and there lots of advice easily available on how to use Twitter as a professional tool, via twitter services such as Twitter_Tips and various library bloggers such as Phil Bradley. Twitter is growing as a well-known networking forum for librarians, and with good reason.

I've also joined FriendFeed recently and am trying that out as another option, but it seems that my Friendfeed is so far full of people I already contact via Facebook and Twitter, and when those people post to both Facebook and Twitter the Friendfeed simply feeds the multiple entries they have made elsewhere into one place. I'm not sure what added value it gives.

So what's next?
Well, you might see more of me on Twitter from now on, but I'll be sure not to be quite as annoying as I was at the start of this week.

I'm also going to have another look at Friendfeed and see if I am missing something there or if it really is just regurgitated Twitter and Facebook feeds.

I'm going to revisit a few Twitter directories and spend some time selecting new people to follow. I might also stop following a few of the people I currently do, and I'm going to clear up the spam from my followers, whether I find it offensive or not.

I think the key to successful use of Twitter will be finding and following the most appropriate people and encouraging the most appropriate people to find and follow me. Once I found the network I can offer most to, and gain most from, I wont have to worry about annoying people with my own content, or being annoyed by theirs (the people who talk about non-work stuff and update me on every aspect of their day are still a bit of a headache).

Hopefully this will mean that initiating new discussions, asking for advice and joining in with conversations already in progress wont feel so awkward and I will be able to focus on having meaningful exchanges with like-minded professionals. All at appropriate times of course - not to the detriment of my actual working day - no matter how intriguing I feel the contents of someone elses sandwich might be ;-)


Aarontay said...

In fact the number of replies you get are impressive, given you just started, most people on twitter take months if not years to get close to the percentage of replies you are getting for generic questions.

I think it's a lot easier for librarians to start on twitter, cos there are so many librarians already on, which solves one of the major problems other people face when starting on twitter.

Chances are many librarians will follow you back (particularly if you have a blog and say interesting things), so you can quickly get a network going.

The potential to create a very *focused* network is very high, pretty much every one of my followers are librarians, so I can ask questions on librarianship and expect to get answers. Links you tweet on librarianship will also be often retweeted because your followers have pretty much the same interests etc.

My sister tried to get into Twitter and she is having problems getting something similar going, which I believe is the typical experience for most people on twitter.

Katharine said...

Thanks very much for your thoughts - it's interesting that librarians have taken to twitter so well when perhaps other professions haven't. Do you think other professionals are using other platforms, or do you think perhaps librarians are just more engaged with Web 2 in general?

If you don't mind me asking - is you sister using twitter for professional networking? and if so, what area does your sister work in? Is there a lack of professionals online generally in her line of work?

Aarontay said...

I'm sure you read/heard about that crack someone made that Twitter is pretty much just for librarians. Yes , I do think that librarians (or at least a particular subset of them) are more engaged in web 2.0 then other professions.

My sister is a pharmacist, I have no idea if they are on another social network, my guess is if they are , it will be the typical mainstream ones, Facebook ,linkedin etc.

I've also looked at users from my university on Twitter, a high percentage of the most active users are from the Computer science related disciplines or the Communication and New Media streams which makes sense when you think about it.

My sister ended up following medical librarians like laikas who according to her produces useful streams of medical related information.

Which when you come to think about it is a win for librarians.