Twitter Hashtags: The Rules


Last week I was creating a slide for a workshop aimed at academic staff and research Postgrads, entitled Twitter for Improvers. On the slide I was attempting to explain what worked with hashtags, and what didn't - for example putting in punctuation causes the hashtag to break.

Then I thought, it would be better to actually do these as tweets (show don't tell!) - I did so just with the idea of print-screening them and deleting them, but lots of people joined in with replies and RTs and I added some ranty opinions on hashtag use as well as the factual and logistical stuff...

So here, in Storify form, is what works and what doesn't: The Laws of Hashtags!

(If you can think of any more leave me a comment.)

Creative Commons header image by GeoBlogs.

The Student Guide to Social Media is now fully reusable!


This actually happened at the end of last year but I didn't get around to blogging about it at the time. It's about the Student Guide to Social media - there's background info below and in a previous blogpost written when it first arrived.

Click this image to open the Student Guide to Social Media in a new window

Click this image to open the Student Guide to Social Media in a new window

It was always Creative Commons so anyone can use it, but now we've taken the ND (Non-Derivative) part off, so it's just CC-BY-NC. In other words you can take it and do whatever you want with it, including repurposing it, remixing it, taking only certain bits of it and not others, and generally reusing it in a flexible way.

It was made in Articulate, and the Articulate source file is available via JORUM. So if you want to use it to make something new, please go for it.

Whenever we talk about or use this in York the students are really responsive - it often gets rated as 'the most useful aspect' of infolit sessions. There's a growing awareness among undergraduates that social media can play a professional and academic role in their lives, but they often don't know where to start - so this overview is something they find helpful.

There's a bit more info about the Student Guide to Social Media on JISC's Digitial Student pages, too.

Do you do conference talks and library events in work time?


As of this week I've gone part time! Only a little bit part-time - I still do 90% of full time at York. That leaves me 1 day off in 10 to do freelance work. So now the vast majority of my public speaking happens outside of work-time, but it wasn't always that way, so I feel like I can objectively write a post about the thorny issue of doing talks and workshops in work time.

I've only ever worked for two libraries. One didn't allow me to do much in the way of CPD things on work time (I took annual leave to do a lot of talks, prior to 2011) and my current employer does allow me to. The first employer's argument was basically, what do we get out of it if you're off doing a talk? My current employer's argument is, we want people out there representing the University, talking about what they're doing. I can see both sides of the argument.

For me there are several reasons why libraries allowing employees to speak at events in work time is a good idea. It helped my professional development a lot - I learnt about areas of librarianship in more detail by virture of having to do enough research to present on them, and it boosted my confidence. I also got to hear a lot of other presentations at the events I was speaking at, so my knowledge and understanding grew. And I've talked a lot about what we do at York, and that's led others to talk about what we're doing here too. It's also made me a happier employee. I'm more contented knowing we're encouraged to get out there and do stuff, rather than frustrated about having to use holiday to speak at conferences.

There's another side to this too, which is that people who present at events are constantly keeping their hand in, and learning, about presenting and teaching. There's nothing like doing something regularly to make you feel more comfortable with it, and you don't get that 'I need a few sessions to get back in the groove with this' thing when October comes and all the teaching starts. Several things I've developed as part of my wider workshops I now incorparate into my information literacy courses at York. So the external and the internal feed each other and both develop.

Ultimately allowing people to talk at events can make them not just happier in their roles but better at their jobs, so I hope that in the unlikely event I ever get into some sort of management position, I'll let people out of the building so they can spread their wings...

I'd be interested to hear from staff and managers for their perspectives on this.


Two More Twitter Changes: Group DMs and In-Tweet Analytics

Following on from my post on the excellent new Twitter video, there's a couple of other things Twitter have introduced in the last couple of weeks.

The first is group Direct Messaging, where you can set up a group of people (up to 20) and privately message them collectively. The conversations can include pictures and be about specific tweets. This is potentially very useful for taking a problematic conversation or dispute out of the public eye but staying within the platform. From the point of view of libraries, that's great. From the point of view of librarianship, I'm not so sure.

The second feature is and tweet-by-tweet analytics within the mobile app. I mentioned in my previous post about Twitter's new Analytics how what the stats really show you is how few of your followers see each tweet (it's around 11%, and that's assuming it's not part of a conversation or at a weird time of day in which case it's much less, or if it's RT'd in which case it's a bit more). The ability to click on each tweet in the mobile and app and see the stats right away just reinforces this - here's a tweet linking to my last post, which got ReTweeted 21 times, and was still only seen by a number of people which amounts to just over half the total number of followers I have.


I'm not totally convinced the link clicks figure is accurate though - not just because it seems really low! But because it doesn't correspond with my website's own statistics or Google Analytics, which attributes a lot more click-throughs to this particular tweet.

But the total number of impressions I do trust. So what do we take from this as libraries? If something's important, you have to tweet it more than once! And it's also worth tweeting at the peak times for when your followers are online - this is usually around 11am and 3pm, but you can find out more specifically using Tweriod, which I'd recommend you do.

[Edit: Since I wrote that I checked Tweriod and it seems to have gone to a paid-only service, which is a real shame - FollowerWonk should tell you when your followers are most active though, so use that instead.)

Twitter Video is here! And it's going to be great for libraries


NB If you're reading this and can't find Twitter video on the app, don't panic, it's being rolled out across all accounts but not everyone has it yet!

I resolutely refuse to include things in my training just because they're fashionable, and for that reason I still don't talk about Vine in any of the sessions I do. I think Vine can be great (some of the 'Vine-magic' stuff is awesome), but I'm yet to see an absolutely essential use for Libraries or in HE, so it gets left out. [Edit: I've finally seen a good example of a Library Vine account! Check out Newcastle Lib's here.]

Part of the problem is that 6 seconds is just too short for the kinds of ideas I have of how to use what you might call 'social video', as opposed to the more permanent videos you find on Vimeo and YouTube. I feel like I've been waiting for something like Vine, but less trendy...

Happily last week Twitter launched an alternative to Vine (which it also owns, by the way) which I do think we can get some proper use out of. You can now take 30 second videos and upload them to Twitter, where they'll play within the tweet without people needing to leave the site or the app. (At the moment you can't use video already on your camera roll.) The videos can be combinations of several shorter clips like Vine, but it won't automatically loop, and it won't play without someone hitting the 'play' button.

If Vine is the short-attention-span but bang on-trend toddler of internet video, Twitter video is its more considered older sibling. Less cool, but maybe with more meaningful things to say.

Here's how it works (email subscribers, click the title of this post to be taken to the web version if the pictures aren't appearing):

Image taken from Twitter's blog - click to be taken through to the relevant post

Image taken from Twitter's blog - click to be taken through to the relevant post

Like Vine it records as long as you hold the button, and you can quickly stitch together multiple clips - as many as you can fit into 30 seconds, in fact.

Note the third screen-shot there - you can delete, and drag to re-arrange the order. So it may be worth recording the most important parts (the start and end) first so you know how much time you have left for the rest, then re-arrange the order - rather than meticulously creating something with 20 clips, only to not have enough time for the ending and having to redo the whole thing.

So how can libraries use it? Before we get onto specific themes, the most essential thing is to think mobile. The whole point of this feature is people watch short videos, where they are, within the app. Twitter offered promoted videos to paying sponsors before this was rolled out to all of us, and apparently 90% of them were watched on mobile devices. So, hit the ground running (1 second intro, max!); shoot from the chest up if you've got people in there so they can clearly be seen on a small screen; if you're speaking make sure you're close to your phone so it's not too quiet; if you use words make the font LARGE; and if possible make the video in such a way as to not need sound to make sense.

I'd love some more ideas in the comments, but here's a few video ideas to start things off:

Customer Service: answering questions with video. If you use Twitter for customer service or a channel for enquiries, you'll know that often when one person answers a question it's worth ensuring everyone can see the answer (hence the twitter dot!) as many will find it useful. There could be even more impact to answering a question with video. So for example, a basic query like 'how do I locate a DVD' gets much more interesting if the answer is a video...

Transient videos. By which I mean, something where a video is appropriate or useful or funny or tapping into some sort of meme, but which you don't neccessarily want a 'permanent record' of on your YouTube channel. It's not that Twitter videos aren't permanent of course - they are - but just that your YouTube vids form a sort of canon which needs to be left alone, so the most important videos don't drown under lesser inconsequential ones. But Twitter video would be a way of getting something out there - news about an event, say - without that feeling of permanence.

If you do need to keep them though, you have the option to embed like I did above, meaning a Twitter video can be seen by and used by those not on Twitter, via the Library website, blog, or LibGuides.

Lightning Tours. Everyone loves a virtual tour! And you need a longer video to tour an entire library, but what about a new building, or new collection? 30 seconds should be doable.

Quick-fire 'Screen Capture'. Narrate a video which tells your users how to do something useful  and then tweet it as a twitter video. So that opens up instant guides to using equipment, finding stuff, getting the most out of databases etc. Here's an example of that, explaining how to make Billboards in Photofunia. (You could even have a #30SecondsOn... series.)

Ask A Librarian. For the brave and camera-confident, get a Twitter Q&A going, and answer the best questions with a to-camera answer from someone who knows what they're talking about.

Previews. Preview a larger video (a full virtual tour, say, or an infolit guide) with a movie-style trailer on Twitter video.

That's all I can think of for now but people are bound to come up with more creative ideas, and I'd love to hear them.

There's more on Twitter Video here. How are you going to use Twitter video in your library?