Twitter as a professional development tool, q&a

A few hours ago, we hosted a webinar on Using Twitter for Professional Development–right up to the moment when the interwebs decided to shut down. Happily, Infopeople’s planful staff had been collecting accruing questions over the previous 52 minutes and Adobe did not erase them when it made like a newspaper and folded. So, here’s a belated series of responses, an expression of thanks for your patience, and a really truly unintended extra plug to consider the webinar’s encouragement to go Twitter.

Sarah asked: What if you don’t have a smartphone? How easy is it to use?

Francisca: In fact, one of Twitter’s strengths for those who really want to access it any time anywhere is that it works just fine on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. It is platform agnostic. Some Twitter apps, including TweetDeck, provide nice shortcuts, but any accessing and communicating on Twitter via any internet-connecting equipment with a screen is serviceable and simple.

Sarah:  Do you check Twitter like you might check Facebook throughout the day?

Francisca: This comes under the topics of both time budgeting and responsible professional behavior. As with any social media venue (including Facebook), how often you’re accessing it at work can dilute the time you are assigned to spend doing other duties. A good rule of thumb for many professionals is to align your Twitter catch up time with your email or phone message time: when you start your day, perhaps at lunch, last thing before calling the workday over. This can be tweeked, of course, if you have planned with coworkers to participate in a live-Tweeted event (such as an author interview, a conference program you are attending virtually, etc.) at a specific time…just as you might have scheduled your real time attendance at this afternoon’s webinar.

Darlene: Do you have your staff create twitter accounts using their work information so it can be used for professional development?

Francisca: Great question for Twitter, Darlene, and hope you put it out there and report on your findings! We are responsible for keeping up on professional development, and our workplaces should be supportive–as noted in Tenet 8 of the ALA Code of Ethics.  You as an individual should not expect that all professional development will come to you via your employer–and your employer does have reason to make your accessvto professional development opportunities possible. Of course, if you are expected to use Twitter to speqk there on behalf of your organization, then the account used should be workplace information based.

Sarah: What are the negative implications of just having one Twitter account and not one private and one public?

Francisca: We touched on this just as the big webinar ending crash arrived. Quick recap: if you are really a confirmed Twitter user in your social/family life, you probably want to be careful to keep your professional Twitteratti from overlistening to the exchange you might be having that is, well, personal….asking your son to report in since it’s now 2 am and he was expected home with your car at midnight, etc. Of course, judicious use of direct messaging can address this matter, too, and there are lots of Twitter authorities who swear it’s better to have just one Twitter account and keep your singular persona scrubbed and professional-enough.

Sandra: Is @infotweets in Spanish?

Francisca: I would love such a volunteer to identify him/herself!

Tracey: Do you have a preference for URL shortener? Does one create shorter URLs than another?

Francisca: I go back and forth between bit.ly and tinyURL…for no inarguable reason. Many sites will present you with pre-shrunk URLs ready-made for tweeting. A word of caution on shrinking what you want people to open: if the original URL isn’t 50 yards long, by tweeting it in full you give your audience the welcome opportunity to see the provenance of the link before clicking on it. Good hygiene reduces viruses, we all know.

Angela: Is there any library that uses Twitter to communicate among its staff to keep them current on library info?

Francisca: Here’s another question to take to Twitter and ask broadly. I’d like to hear, too, Angela, what kind of info you have in mind that would best be transmitted by the library to its own staff via this method?

And here’s that URL shrinker post I promised: 5 URL Shorteners, which also discusses why shortening may not be exactly what you want to do all the time.



Categories: Cool Tools, Evaluating information, Keeping Up, Training, twitter

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