Twitter 101 for Libraries, Museums, and More

With just 280 characters (140 at the start), Twitter has shifted the way information spreads. Since it was founded in 2006, the social media platform has risen to become a significant branding and broadcasting tool. But for cultural and educational organizations tasked with establishing a social media presence, questions about how to wield that tool for larger institutional goals loom large.

For example, what steps should libraries and museums take in order to build a social media following that fosters their respective communities and reflects their mission statements in meaningful ways?

A new book, Using Twitter to Build Communities: A Primer for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, offers a step-by-step guide. It was co-written by Professor Valerie Forrestal, web services librarian at the College of Staten Island, and Tinamarie Vella, library manager at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

Forrestal and Vella take readers through all the steps necessary to establish an account, build a following, curate content, and analyze engagement with tools like TweetStats and Tweet Reach. They even include detailed instructions for drafting a social media policy, which includes defining your audience. “The mission statement is key to understanding how to serve your community,” they write.

According to the authors, it’s far more critical to look at Twitter as a means to community building rather than as one more communications channel. Doing so “increase[s] your entire organization’s value to its constituency, and you plant roots that make it easier to curate impactful, relevant, and engaging content.”

The ultimate thing to keep in mind is the ever-shifting nature of social media as well as the community it serves. “Always be open to change, and be willing to learn from your community,” they advise.

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Valerie Forrestal (Assistant Professor / Web Services Librarian) | Profile 1
Tinamarie Vella (Library Manager) | Profile 1