My public library’s Twitter account has over 1800 followers. 1800! This fall, a handful of us sat down to brainstorm how to get the most out of our amazing following.
In the end, we came up with three big goals. First was to pare down the number of Tweeters we were following back, in order to focus on core users and really zero in on newsworthy happenings in our community. Second, we came up with some key themes or “series” of tweets that we thought would appeal to our network, such as a “new to the collection” series and a “#todayinhistory” series. And third, we set out to curate public Twitter lists that anyone in our community could subscribe to.
Ever since we began curating these lists, I get more and more excited about their potential every day. I love that they’re so community oriented, which I believe really builds goodwill and adds an invaluable service that not many other local organizations are situated to offer. We’re aggregating lists of individuals who have put themselves and their work out there via Twitter, thus leveraging our position in the community to help them be discovered by others who might have an interest in their work. Some of our local lists include Lawrence Arts, Lawrence Techies, Lawrence Businesses, Lawrence Events, Lawrence Athletics, and Lawrence Bloggers.
My favorite of all these lists is Lawrence Bloggers! Where else can you go to find a list of local bloggers?? To curate this list, we combed through all of our local followers and identified those who listed a URL in their bio (seriously, we went through 1800). If the URL linked to a blog, they made the first cut. And if that blog had been updated within the past month, they made the second cut. Finally, if the scope of the blog could appeal a wider audience beyond immediate friends and family, bingo — these tweeters made it to our final list of Lawrence Bloggers. I was pleased by the variety and balance of the list, too — 65 local blogs about books, music, movies, food, fashion, sports, current events, religion, marketing & advertising, journalism, etc. I love it!
So now, in order to feature our list of Lawrence Bloggers, my library has started tweeting about one local blogger per day with hashtag “#lawrenceblogs” (e.g. “A blizzard soundtrack to help you keep warm, via @TheMPM: http://thempm.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/mixtape-en-espanol/ #lawrenceblogs“). Bonus points if the post mentions books, music or movies! These local reviews are invaluable, because a good review written by someone from your community is often much more meaningful than one written by the New York Times Book Review, Billboard, or Roger Ebert. And rather than relying on a lone librarian to carry the burden of reading and watching everything and then cranking out daily reviews, we can instead harness the power of Twitter to point out the amazing content that’s already out there being produced by dedicated local bloggers.
Finally, as I was pondering the logistics of composing these blog-featuring tweets, I thought it could be beneficial to create an RSS feed that includes all the local bloggers so I can skim through their new content daily, rather than digging through their individual Twitter profiles to find their content. But now I’m thinking that I’d like to take this even further by bundling the feed as a public RSS subscription that my library could make freely available via our website. This could be a fantastic way for our library to add value to the community — one that a lot of local residents might be pretty interested in.
Two years ago, I never thought I’d be using Twitter and RSS to create new community resources. For me, it goes to show how attending workshops here and there and keeping an open mind even when you’re not sure you’re learning anything new can really open up possibilities down the road. What about you — what ideas have you been toying with to implement social media in your work life?