@pollyalida aka Polly-Alida Farrington
Sometimes people really do tweet about what they had for lunch and that’s ok.
"A simple grilled cheese, onion & spinach sandwich became elevated by the addition of sriracha."
"And who says nobody cares about food-related tweets! I, for one, love 'em. I DO care about what you had for lunch!"
This recent food-related Twitter exchange with my library/foodie friend, @jenniferwaller, brought home an important point: it doesn't matter what you tweet about, as long as you're sharing with a community that cares about that content. And finding a community that cares is pretty easy. Search for your favorite topic and scan the tweets that turn up. Start following people who say interesting things and share great information. Check out who they follow and who follows them to expand your network.
Hashtags, those keywords with the # in front of them that people add to their tweets, can also help you find people, ideas and resources. If you work in a school library, searching for #tlchat will lead to a world of resources. Can’t make it to a conference in person? Follow tweets to hear what’s happening. #rsq12 was the hashtag for the Risk and Reward Conference in Telluride CO in September. I wasn’t there, but was able to follow lots of the “big ideas” via twitter. If you’re going to the NYLA 2012 conference in November, find out the hashtag and share some updates from the sessions you attend.
Why bother? Maybe you already have a great network that includes colleagues in your workplace, people you've met at conferences, served on committees with and so on. Or maybe you don't! Either way, with tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., we all have the opportunity to gain new perspectives, share ideas, challenge our assumptions, and make connections with people from all over the globe and right next door as well.
Can’t keep up? Once you've started following a bunch of people, you might feel it's too much to keep up with. You're right, it is! To help manage this, use Twitter's list feature to create groups of people based on the topics, connections, location or whatever makes sense to you. Visiting a list gives you just the tweets from the people on that list. I have lists for gardening, travel, libraries, good friends, WordPress and so on.
Other tools to help you get the best content out of Twitter include: Paper.li (web), Flipboard (iPad, iPhone, Android) and TweetedTimes (web & iPad, iPhone). These free tools extract the stories and resources shared via Twitter and turn them into easy-to-read magazine-like pages that you can dip into whenever you have time. For example: http://paper.li/tag/tlchat can keep you up to date on all the great resources shared via the #tlchat hashtag.
Lurk: Not comfortable tweeting? You really don't have to! There are plenty of people who simply read tweets and learn from the resources and ideas shared. It's a simple and very smart thing to do. Use the tools listed above to lurk efficiently.
Share: If you’re ready to “de-lurk”, it's easy to get started by sharing articles, news items, blog posts, etc. Most web sites make it simple to click a 'tweet it' button to post automatically to your account. If you want to share something someone else has tweeted, hit the 'retweet' button. The person you retweeted will see that you appreciated and shared their content. They might even start following you. Don't be afraid to say hello and thank them for sharing great content.
Connect: Once you've started growing a community of colleagues, you'll find you have a terrific resource for asking for help when you need it. Sometimes you might have to ask several times and ask for others to retweet (or RT) your question to get better coverage, but all that helps grow your network. Watch who follows you and follow them back if you like what they’re sharing.
Connections pay off: Is it worth the time? Oh yes! Some examples:
• Several friends of mine have been head-hunted for fabulous jobs, one while she was still in library school. Networking and sharing ideas on twitter brought her to the attention of someone who decided she'd be a great hire.
• Because I often tweet about WordPress tips & tricks, I was offered an opportunity to co-author a book by a fellow library geek. We’ve published two books now, having only met once in person.
• While traveling, I’ve met wonderfully generous librarians from around the world who are now friends and are people I can share ideas with and learn from. Thanks to twitter and other social media connections I have stronger connections with local colleagues and an expanded community that spans the globe.
Twitter is all about sharing ideas, learning from others, helping solve problems, connecting with others and creating communities, the same things that libraries are all about. Give it at try (or another try), my bet is that you’ll find it useful.
• Twitter: http://twitter.com
• Twitter Basics: https://support.twitter.com/groups/31-twitter-basics
• Hashtags for information professionals. http://www.infotoday.eu/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=80310
• Twitter is Stupid (until you realize….) http://crowdshifter.com/2012/09/07/twitter-is-stupid-until-you-realize/
• Tweets at start of article: https://twitter.com/jenniferwaller/status/234711266252447744 https://twitter.com/jenniferwaller/status/234750420889780224