Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thing 48. Twitter: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

You’ve heard about Twitter, you’ve seen Twitter, and you’re either on the Twitter bandwagon or you’ve dismissed it. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to those who love and hate Twitter, but since 23 Things on a Stick and More Things on a Stick, Twitter use has exploded. Professionals and businesses are tweeting, news is updated instantly on Twitter, celebrities connect with fans via Twitter, and almost any interest you have can be nourished with a variety of Twitter feeds. 

Twitter can be a great professional development tool for you, so if you’re one of the people who dismissed Twitter because you heard it’s about people telling you what they had for breakfast, open your eyes to some of the ways Twitter is being used:

Library professionals are on Twitter

Twitter can be a social platform, but it can also be a professional one. Librarians are tweeting about programming, articles, books, events, lesson plans, and a host of other library-related topics. For lists of professionals to follow, check out: Libraries on Twitter, Librarians Twitter Directory, 100 Best Twitter Feeds for Librarians of the Future, and the list of librarians in the 23 Things on a Stick Ning who are in Twitter.

Follow businesses of interest
If you frequent certain businesses, chances are they have a Twitter feed. Do you use Ning social networks? Follow Ning to get status updates. Whole Foods tweets about happenings in their stores. Southwest tweets about flight updates and deals. If you use a lot of Google tools, follow them for update information. Or maybe it’s local businesses you want to follow, so get great coupons by following Punch Pizza in the Twin Cities. Use the Twitter account search to your advantage and find businesses of interest to you.

Get news updates
News is updated instantly on Twitter as you may have heard about during the Iranian elections. During the elections individuals in Twitter were posting news updates, but there are also news organizations doing the same thing, like Minnesota Public Radio, The New York Times, and American Libraries. Other organizations like The Huffington Post, ESPN, People Magazine, and The Onion have Twitter accounts, too. Check out this list of 100 Best Twitter Feeds for All Your News and Know How.

Follow government feeds
You may have heard about members of congress tweeting, some even getting in a little bit of trouble for what they tweet, and even a candidate running for Minnesota state senate had some problems, but there are some good government feeds to follow. The White House Twitter feed put together a list of different government agencies tweeting, like The Library of Congress, the Department of Education, and NASA. You can even follow certain NASA astronauts, like T.J. Creamer who recently posted the first tweet from space. 

There are government feeds about certain things, too, like the Food and Drug Administration feed for food recalls or’s feed highlighting flu information. And, if you are interested in following members of congress, here’s a list of tweeting members, including our own Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison.

Local and state governments use Twitter, too. In the Twin Cities, St. Paul Public Works updates its Twitter feed with snow emergency information. Other jurisdictions also use Twitter, so check with your local government. Weather woes lately make following MNDot a good idea!

Find book-related information
We librarians are book lovers, so find out more about books through Twitter. Follow publishers, like Random House, Dark Horse Comics, Milkweed Editions, and Graywolf Press. Follow those writing about the book industry, like Publishers Weekly or The Library Journal. Maybe you need more book reviews, so try New York Times Books, LA Times Books, Just One More Book, and local reviewers like Minnesota Reads. Authors post interesting tweets, too, like Neil Gaiman, Meg Cabot, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kate Jacobs. Even book characters tweet! For more book-related tweets, look at the Directory of Book Trade People on Twitter and 100 Best Authors on Twitter.

Take time for some laughs, too
We do want you to think about using Twitter for professional development, but you should also take some time to laugh, right? These are some of our favorite, funny Twitter feeds: the whale on the ceiling of the Natural History Museum in New York City tweets; Fake AP Stylebook is priceless for any librarian who helps students with citations; Ben Franklin is tweeting through a 13-year-old Minnesota Historical Society volunteer; even Laura Ingalls Wilder is tweeting.

We could go on and on and tell you about all the great people and organizations you can follow in Twitter, but why don’t you try searching for that which interests you. Just login to Twitter and click on the “Find People” link at the top and search for someone or something. Check out who your favorite Twitterers are following to get even more ideas for useful feeds. You might be pleasantly surprised at who or what you find. After all, even the Pope is promoting Twitter.

Do you follow anyone we should follow? Let us know in the comments.

By LeAnn Suchy, Metronet


Suzanne Hilgert said...

I would encourage those wanting to learn more about new technologies to visit Mashable ( sign up to follow them on Twitter also. Lots of help and interesting discussions.

Roasted Marshmallow said...

I think this is great that the things on a stick are still going forward.
I started a twitter account for the library last March and it has been pretty successful, I would say. I post our library events, retweet library related articles/information, communicate with some of our patrons, and we've even had a few twitter contests. In my opinion, Twitter has turned out to be a great marketing tool to reach yet another audience that we may have missed out on by not taking this step.
We also have facebook and myspace accounts. Facebook has really taken off, but mySpace... not so much.
Follow us on Twitter: @RochPubLibrary