To Tweet or Not To Tweet

Now is the perfect time for me to write a blog post on twitter because last week I had a real “tweet moment” – a twitter success story.

My executive director came into my office and said, “Whatever you just tweeted about Mocking something or another, one of our trustees got in their car and drove over here to get the book.”

The tweet was:

“Just minutes ago… 4 Mockingjays on the Grab N Go.”

In Robert Doyle’s August 20 “News from Illinois Library Association” there was a link to a great slide share presentation entitled “What is Social Media Now.” Here are the related links:

There were some great twitter snippets/statistics from the “What is Social Media Now” presentation:

  • “42% of companies use twitter to find and attract employees.”
  • “27 Million. The average number of “tweets’ per day on Twitter (That’s 8X Last Year’s Volume.)”
  • “7 Hours. The time it took for LeBron James to amass his first 150,000 Twitter followers. It took Bill Gates 8 hours to reach 100,000.”
  • “BP’s official Twitter account: 16,000 followers; Satirical (anonymously-run) BP Twitter account: 180,000 followers.”

In one of the final slides in the “What is Social Now” presentation, white text on the red background simply states: “All Media is Now Social Media.” To me that says it all, that’s there’s really no question of whether or not to be a part of social media.

Regarding twitter and social media, what can libraries do with twitter and what are some tips for using twitter?

First, we can do a lot of things like tweet how many copies of Mockingjay are on the Grab N Go shelf. We can RT (retweet) other community groups who will appreciate us sharing their message to our followers. We can tweet a margarita recipe in the dog days of summer. We can tweet staff picks, job announcements, trustee openings. What all this comes down to is that we can tweet our library’s personality.

If you’re ready to embrace twitter, here’s what you need to get started:

  • Twitter, Visit the site and sign up by creating a user name/handle and password. You want your user name to be as short as possible, because with any luck, people will be retweeting you and characters count in twitter. No more than 140 characters per tweet.
    In addition to, there is also and These are all “URL shorteners.” What these sites do is take your long URL web address and shorten it to about 20 characters. I prefer over the other URL shorteners because shortened links seem to perform better on smart phones, and also, when using twitter, pop-up boxes will show you how many clicks your link received. This is a nice, quick check on what was of most interest to your followers.
  • Twitpic,
    This site lets you upload pictures and also generates a shortened link. In addition to twitpic, http:/ is also very popular. Check out some of the images I’ve uploaded via twitpic for the Barrington Area Library: (Just an aside – if anyone recognizes images from the report “How libraries stack up: 2010” – please feel free to use these images and tweets for your library if you like.)
  • HootSuite,
    HootSuite is a source for automating tweets. It lets you tweet set up tweets to post at times other than the typical 9-5 pm workday. I always try to set up a few tweets to post in the evening when the majority of people are home from work. I forget where I read this nugget of information, but 3 pm is an optimal time to tweet. Office employees generally break about 3:15 pm, and on break, they are likely to check personal email, log into facebook and/or twitter.

Aside from these three sites – hootsuite,, and twitpic – I think the single best advice for getting started on twitter is to start following “tweeps” you like for inspiration.

Here are a few of my favorites:
nypl, mashable, wsj, redeyechicago, ChicagoNow, bookbench, tatteredcover, KirkusReviews, AccessScience, MensHealthMag, WomensHealthMag, wired, fastcompany, brookfield_zoo, msichicago, shedd_aquarium, fieldmuseum (also, SuetheTRex, Field Museum having some fun on twitter), adler_families, artinstitutechi, milwaukeeart, LakeCoMuseum

FYI – twitter has some quirks, but basically you just get in there, set up a user name, make a password and make your first tweet. You’ll be amazed how quickly you amass followers. Some will be “spam,” but a lot will be actual patrons. For targeting and attracting library users to your twitter account, run some links on your website and promo signage inside and outside the library.

One last thing: the language barrier with twitter. I’ve been on twitter for a year now, and I still don’t speak all of the language. If you ever see an acronym or abbreviation on twitter that you don’t know, you can almost always find it on google. To get started with the lingo though, here’s a link that shows some of the commonly used twitter acronyms and abbreviations:

Have fun tweeting. It’s a great way to show ur patrons what ur library is all about.


Barrington Area Library is located in Barrington, Illinois. The Barrington Area Library covers a 72 square mile area, making it the largest geographic library district in Illinois. The library serves approximately 46,500 patrons. The library made its first tweet on April 21, 2009. has 449 followers as of August 30, 2010.


About sharonadoty

Public Information Manager, Barrington Area Library
This entry was posted in Tips and Tools. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to To Tweet or Not To Tweet

  1. Ahaa, its good dialogue regarding this post here at this website, I have
    read all that, so at this time me also commenting here.

  2. illinoislibrariesmatter says:

    Great info, Sharon.

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