Thursday, November 10, 2011

working with Twitter

The decision to go with Twitter (verses Facebook or Google+) for the Instructional Resource Center was not quick or easy.  A consistent web presence exists; the IRC web site was one of the first things I developed when starting as a curriculum librarian at AU and in recent months I have been rebuilding it in Drupal. I've used a blog for the IRC since 2005; it features news, information, and new book updates for the IRC and juvenile collections. We've been lucky to have LibGuides for several years, and resources for Education students and general IRC pages are part of the collection.Taking steps to add another resource required careful consideration:
  • How will the proposed addition work with existing resources?
  • The library has a Facebook page, is it necessary to have two?
  • Do students want the IRC on Facebook?
  • Students have AU Gmail accounts, but are they using Google+?
  • Are students willing to use Google+?
  • How popular is Twitter with college students?
  • Will Twitter character constraints help or hinder use?

A final question, one of significance, how much time am I willing /able to expend on maintaining the project?  Regardless of the social media choice, time and effort will be needed to make the resource viable.  Periodic discussions with my student workers and students using the IRC helped me with the decide to use Twitter for the IRC. Why Twitter? It's will provide opportunity for quick, simple, short, and timely updates that will supplement the web site, blog, and LibGuides. 

I posted the first IRC tweet on Tuesday morning @ircaulibrary

It took time to research and determine who the IRC should follow, I selected a mix of children's literature, education, AU accounts, and educational technology to start. Using a library background and university colors allowed me to brand the page. To publicize, I've created Twitter widgets for the IRC blog, requested a link be placed on the main IRC page sidebar with the blog feed, posted to the IRC blog, and utilized the library's digital signage to scan the account rotate the five most recent tweets.

I have a short list of subjects to tweet for the next several weeks.  At this point, the only drawback has been ...

I usually tweet using my iPhone app, and was surprised to see the little "over capacity" whale shortly after making the account live. In the last three days, I've been subject to "over capacity" while posting tweets - and - when showing students the account.  I'm hoping the little whale, cute as he is, does not become problematic (though several of my students indicate he's a regular occurrence).

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