Social media in the spotlight

The September 2013 issue of the CILIP Update has not one but two interesting feature articles on Social Media. The second of these two articles is called @NSPCCpro and looks at the challenges faced by the Information Services Team at NSPCC as they set out to create a Twitter account.

The first thing to say is that this Twitter account is seperate from the main NSPCC Twitter account and is designed to published current awareness on child protection. There were a number of reasons why the information services team decided to open a Twitter account, which include the immediacy of Twitter, the potential reach and the opportunity for the information services team to be more interactive and build up a network of followers with similar interests.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article are the lessons that the Information Services Team learnt during the course of their (ongoing) Twitter journey. I've picked out some of these as there are quite a few:

  • If you make a mistake, learn from it, but let it go. The brevity and immediacy of the medium means tweeters forgive and forget quickly
  • Don't stay silent too long - you have to tweet to be seen and an idle account will not attract new followers
  • Sometimes news breaks first on Twitter making this a good place for finding as well as sharing informatio
  • Actively searching for tweets and tweeters who are talking about your topic can help to find new followers and share knowledge
  • Tweet with added value - avoid cutting and pasting a headline and a link, try to make a tweet useful, accurate and interesting

Of these I think the last two points are very useful guidance to anyone considering joining Twitter or anyone who already has a Twitter account. Whilst retweeting is a great way to share content on Twitter, it's almost too easy to do, which means that a lot of content gets retweeted without any value added to it, or any explanation as to what it actually is, which might encourage someone to read it. The latter of these two points is also important and when you've just joined Twitter, searching for tweets and tweeters is a great way to find people to follow. Looking at other tweeters profile may also display other individuals you or your organisation might want to follow.

Overall this is a really interesting article, which is well worth reading if you're thinking about or even have a Twitter account.

The next article written by Megan Roberts looks at her experience of using Social Media from both a personal and professional experience. This reads a bit like a history of social media, but it's very interesting to read what value Megan gets from Twitter and of course there are some lessons learnt.

The first of these is to keep yourself up-to-date. I think this is extremely important to do. As Megan says "you become the a go-to-person and vital to the organisation. You want to be the one they turn to when they have these questions" Ultimately this makes you invaluable to the organisation, or as invaluable as you can be!  The next lesson learnt is an important one and easy one to do and that is to "dip your toe into the world of social media" Yes it can be a bit scary but as Megan says "you messing up on social media is unlikely to end up as catastrophic event" basically there is no reason why you shouldn't give it a go.

One final point from Megan's article that I liked was that you need to be flexible. Megan talks about how she has often done things that wouldn't be considered typical librarian/information roles. But importantly she has acquired skills that have been beneficial later in her career. I think this is a really important point and could apply to anyone within an organisation, not just an information professional.

So two really great articles on social media, which if you're a CILIP member are well worth reading.

[Photo credit - Spotlights from Flickr]