I got a Twitter account several years ago and found that I rarely used it – perhaps because I found it difficult to condense what I wanted to say into 140 characters. And it also seemed to me that not only did you need to condense what you wanted to say into 140 characters, but you then had to try and be witty at the same time. So, my account languished. I also predicted that Twitter really wouldn’t catch on- so why start using something that probably didn’t have lasting power anyways?
Well, my aptitude at making predictions about technology obviously isn’t very accurate, since Twitter has grown in popularity and is obviously going to be around for a very long time. In December the library launched a Twitter feed @wpglibrary (we’d love it if you followed us!) and I seem to have become a Twitter convert. Twitter is much more than celebrity tweets by people like Ashton Kutcher (who, incidentally, has more people following him than there are on a small continent) although I do have to confess to following a celebrity or two. No matter where your interests lie, you can find lots of individuals or organizations to follow. As a librarian who is interested in film, music and technology, I’ve found lots of interesting people to follow who keep me up-to-date on the things I like. Interested in hockey? You can follow your favorite team (the Jets) or your favorite player (connect with Evander Kane). Interested in cooking? You could follow Jamie Oliver, the Food Network or Bon Appetit magazine. There are Twitter feeds for job hunters, and Twitter feeds for vampire hunters. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s something for you.
What if you’re interested in the idea of tweeting, but perplexed by some of the Twitter jargon such as hashtags? If you need more information about Twitter and how it works, the library can help you out. Twitter for Dummies will teach you everything you need to know to get started with Twitter, as will Twitter: Tips, Tricks and Tweets. And it’s never too late to learn how to tweet- Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies will have you tweeting in no time.
If you own a business, you might want to consider using Twitter for promotional purposes. Twitter allows you to market your product to your followers but also allows you to tap into what tweeters are saying about your business. Positive comments can be retweeted for extra publicity while negative tweets can be addressed by responding directly to the person. Often, someone will tweet about a business and the company will respond to the person fairly quickly via Twitter. If you want to use Twitter for business promotion, the library has several books that would be useful to consult. Get Rich with Twitter: Harness the Power of the Twitterverse and Reach More Customes Than Ever Before might help entrepreneurs attract a larger customer base. Twitter Marketing for Dummies provides good basic information on how to successfully market and promote your product or organization using Twitter.
There are also books that deal with altruistic uses of Twitter. Social Media for Social Good is a guide for non-profits on how to make use of Twitter. Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time is a well-reviewed book which outlines ways in which Twitter can be used to further causes and campaigns, and clearly get a message out. Recently, I’ve read several news stories about a homeless woman in the United States who started a Twitter account at her local library, and began tweeting as a way to deal with her mental illness and to chronicle what it’s like to be homeless. This woman has now received assistance from people she met through Twitter and she’s no longer living on the streets.
Some days, though, I’m just in need of a good laugh and Twitter often provides me with that. The day that Wikipedia was down in protest of SOPA, the hashtag #factswithoutWikipedia was born. Some of the gems I found were: “Bacon is good for you” (wish that one was really true!), “97% of the earth’s surface is covered by Beefaroni” and, lastly, my colleague’s favorite, “Pasta lovers can now plant a spaghetti tree in order to reduce their carbonara footprint.”