Trying to figure out why libraries should or shouldn’t care about Twitter

I’m spending some time with Twitter today, trying to figure out how a public library might use it effectively for the benefit of its customers.

Here’s what I’m getting out of my research.  Boiling everything down, it seems like people use Twitter because a) they are looking for a shared community of interest to learn from and communicate with, b) they are trying to develop a reputation in a specific community (part of the reason I write this blog) or, c) they are “information gatherers” – the person who just loves to share and collect miscellaneous tidbits of information.

If you look at that in the context of a public library, where does that lead you?  I’m beginning to think the way libraries might use Twitter effectively would be to develop “niche Twitters” instead of a generalized library Twitter.  Library Twitters tend to be brief burst of information about events at a specific library.  Unless I happen to live in that community, I don’t usually care.

However, if I followed a Twitter that is based on a specific area of interest, I’ll follow that Twitter even if I don’t live in that community.  So, how about a Twitter from your local library that focus on local history lit?  Or a genealogy Twitter from your library?  Or a Twitter about Maine mystery writers? Or a Brunswick community Twitter provided by your library?  Seems like those might be more valuable to someone who uses Twitter to build a personal online community.

When I started a Curtis Library Twitter I found that almost everyone who followed me was another library.  I guess we were all trying to figure out how to use Twitter in a powerful way for our libraries.  I’m thinkin’ we missed the boat the first time around.  This might be the new path and it seems a little counter-intuitive to me as a marketer – talk about the subject first and THEN the library.  We will see how this works.

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