From the floor: Did you deliberately set out to gain a large (for NZ public libraries) number of Twitter followers?

by tosca on Monday, September 17, 2012

I received quite a few emails after my last post, all with queries about how or why I do things how I do them on our work tweetstream. I've responded to them all individually (I'm three steps away from marrying the copy and paste function, seriously). I thought I'd post some of the questions here, and my answers. Maybe this will be useful to some of you. (And, as ever, maybe not). The first question for this (strange and unprecedented - for me, anyway) type of post is: Did you deliberately set out to gain a large (for NZ public libraries) number of Twitter followers? I want to make something clear right from the start: I'm not an 'expert.' I'd be wary of anybody who said they were. At heart, I'm just a nerdy girl with a laptop, access to the interwebs, and an inappropriate love of Jensen Ackles. (Sometimes, the three go hand in hand and then I win at life).

Query: Did you deliberately set out to gain a large (for NZ public libraries) number of Twitter followers?
Quick answer: No. Absolutely not.

More thoughtful answer: Nation-wide domination by Twitter is not a strategy. Not ever. Where is the substance? Where is the quality? What integrity is there in that? (I'm hoping we (wider libraries) want to be about quality more than quantity. Feel free to correct me if you believe otherwise).

Who has more followers is, in my mind, irrelevant. For the simple reason that anybody can amass numbers. The numbers are nice. They are not everything. They don't really tell you whether or not anybody's listening. They don't indicate whether or not people are looking at your content. They don't let you know what works and what sucked. They don't show you whether or not you're relevant. More importantly, they don't truly reflect how many of your followers you're meaningfully interacting with. What I want, more than anything, is for our followers to tell us what part of our service works well, and most especially what doesn't. I want them to feel that they can safely - free of judgement - do so. What I want from that is to then take that feedback to management and have them assess whether or not those comments have merit, and ask the hard questions, such as, "Does this one aspect of our service take us further away from our customers? In what way? How do we bring it back? Does it mean an overhaul of the service altogether? Or a tidying up?" Like that. So, sure, keep an eye on the numbers, but keep in mind that it can't all be about that.

Twitter's not a competition. Libraries are not in competition. If we think of it like that, then I think we've lost sight of what we are and why we do what we do. I feel that we should all be helping each other. We can do that by sharing what works, what doesn't, how and why we tweaked certain strategies, what initiatives we want to try and when. For the most part, I try my hardest to live up to this. I'm hoping this series of posts will go some part toward that.

2 comments

I should have clarified: when I say 'numbers' I mean only 'followers.' Not 'stats.' Having said that, though, it's an amalgam of things that I look at, not just a set of numbers (i.e. increase/decrease in followers) or stats (e.g. how many links ppl clicked on).

by tosca on September 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM. #

We engage with the public in their own spaces (I like to think!). Whether that space is digital or physical makes no difference.

Face to face, telephone, posters, websites, enewsletters, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, History Pin etc etc etc.

We collect stats:- footfall via door counters for example (I see Twitter followers as this equivalent of this).

Just because someone enters the library, doesn't mean that they have engaged with us for traditional library usage. They may wander round and back out again. Or visit the CAB.

A Twitter follower may not engage with the Library's Twitter account. It may just "lurke", never opening links but enjoying watching other people's communication.

So footfall, or "followers" are just another set of stats we may collect.

The other stats are ref desk enquiries - or those who click our links/visit our website as a result of following on Twitter.

That's how I think of it. Does this make sense?

Cheers Tosca SEONAID

by Seonaid Harvey Lewis on September 18, 2012 at 2:02 PM. #

Leave your comment

Kia ora! Have a comment or suggestion to make? Then speak now or forever hold your peace.