Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to make and maintain a Library Twitter account : get your content out there!

It's a few weeks now since I  have launched the cmbUMCG twitter account (in Dutch). The reasons for this were:
  • to start to focus more in Dutch on our target groups,
  • to find out if they are out there tweeting too, and why
  • to keep up with tweets about UMCG: staff, students, patients, and news flashes published by third parties
  • to explore how to get parts of our content and services in there, without having to invest a lot of extra staff time for maintenance and updating
  • to show that the library is using this channel too, to show ourselves and the UMCG.
Creation of the account is pretty simple of course via Twitter. Be sure to find a nice logo and background. There are several sites that offer simple free templates for twitter backgrounds (i.e., or you create your own.

To get relevant content into your Twitter Library account you need:
  • active library staff that tweet about news on any aspect of library services and resources. You can can also include news about your organisation.

    Sending tweets can be done from the basic Twitter-site or from one of the many Twitter apps that are available. The most complete overview of twitter apps can be found at The Twitter Fan Wiki. My personal favourite is Tweetdeck. This allows me to scan many subjects by ways of searchstrategies. Tweetdeck can handle many twitteraccounts at the same time and has great exchange options with Facebook and MySpace.

  • a great set of RSS feeds from your Library services and resources.
 I used Twitterfeed to get RSS-feeds into the cmbUMCG Library Twitter account. Twitterfeeds works as a mash-up for RSS-feeds and Twitter. It merges several feeds into one Twitter account with nice options to add and finetune the published tweet i.g. with pre-fixes to show the origin of the source. (As far as I know Twitterfeed is the only tool to merge feeds into a Twitter account. Please tell me if I am wrong.)
The first 3 feeds in this list are pretty straight forward RSS-feeds coming from our own website and systems. The Pubmed feed is a saved search for all possible address variations of the UMCG, turned into RSS by Pubmed..

For the last three resources (UMCG News & Events & Polsslag) there was NO RSS-feed available, simply because the UMCG website does not support it.
I used the free version of Feedity to "scrape" the content of the relevant pages in that UMCG-site. Feedity lets you turn max 10 pages into rss-feeds. The pages you want turn into a feed need to be build-up in a structured way of course, to let the tool discover new content items. Feedity offers an easy way of refining the rss output by defining the parameters for title and description extraction in html/xml. (Read more about Feedscrapers in a previous post on Feedscrapers.)

After creating the feeds, I run the feeds throught Feedburner to :
  • be abled to track clickthroughs and subscribers
  • to optimize them for maximum compatibility
  • to add some options for interactivity into each content item for subscribers, like Send to Email, Delicious, Share in Facebook.
These Feedburner feeds are entered into Twitterfeed. After that it runs itself :-)
To ensure coverage in our other social media, I made sure that our Library Facebook Fan Page ánd the Group Page are connected to the Twitterfeed. We also push the Twitterfeed to the UMCG & CMB Linkedin Groups and our Hyves. And finally the cmbUMCG Twitterfeed gets published as a great widget in the Conduit Library Toolbars, QuickSearchCMB and CMB Student
Next thing we need to do is get more followers. Tweetdeck shows us- based on a saved search -constantly all tweets mentioning the UMCG. The principle of following anybody that seems to have any relation with the UMCG, as patient, student, staff or otherwise, has resulted in 78 Followers so far, but it is growing steadily. People follow back most of the time.
To get more followers: get your account listed in twitter directories  and to the relatively new Listorious "The Directory of awesome Twitter lists".

Scanning the tweets on UMCG resulted in being aware of new press releases béfore they were announced on the UMCG website. In these cases we publish/retweet this on the Library cmbUMCG account and as a consequense also on all social media connected.

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Guus van den Brekel said...

Check out this SlideShare Presentation : Twitter101 for Librarians Phil Bradley #online2009

Anonymous said...

Nice Post
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