Twitter Tactics for Libraries

Since joining in April 2009, University of Texas Libraries has published 5,658 tweets and garnered a following of 1,903 twitter users. Cal State Northridge Oviatt Library has earned 2,556 likes on Facebook and uploaded 39 YouTube videos. Eighteen hours ago The University of Kansas Libraries posted a link to a throwback Thursday blog post featuring the Easter Bunny from the 1953 relay parade.

In 2013, evaluated 422 college and university library social media accounts and published an article of the 100 Most Social Media Friendly College & University Libraries.  UT, Cal State Northridge, and the University of Kansas ranked first, second, and third respectively. In the grand scheme of the twitter-verse where a Kardashian selfie is worth 651K+ likes these numbers are a microscopic blip amidst the 500 million tweets sent out daily.

Burclaff and Johnson (2014) suggest that in order for a library to gain success upon adopting social media the library must remain dedicated to representing both its culture and value under a unified voice.

 “To personify your library’s brand, consider what your library, if it was a person, would look like, talk about, wear, etc. This exercise may help you articulate your library’s culture, values, and purpose in a way that can be translated on social media.” (p. 368)

Kardashian and her ilk (and their well-compensated publicists) are experts at crafting luxury one Mercedes G-class Instagram at a time (MSRP @ $115,000+ – or a two-year salary for a full time librarian). Although libraries are pushing paperbacks instead of Prada, what additional steps can libraries take to ensure social media success while simultaneously establishing brand identity?

According to Potter’s Ten Golden Rules it is important to tweet multimedia (pictures, videos, slideshows), use hashtags— but don’t go overboard, and broadcast your twitter handle everywhere. These are only three of the ten suggestions, the rest of which can be read hereShulman (2015) notes that it is important to analyze followers in order to tailor tweets — “an analysis of an account’s followers can provide valuable insight into the accounts that receive library information.” (p.179)

Further, Gunton and Davis (2012) suggest using twitter beyond the usual marketing tactics. Considering librarianship is a service oriented profession they propose that the spirit of customer service should extend beyond the reference desk. Would you ever consider tweeting a reference question to your library’s twitter account?

At the present moment Wayne State Library (@waynestatelib) has 662 twitter followers and 688 total tweets — nearly one tweet per follower! Sadly they did not make the Top 100 list mentioned earlier but nevertheless WSU can tweak their twitter to make the 2015 cut. What have been your experiences with libraries on twitter and other social media? Are you following WSU or your local public library?


Burclaff, N., & Johnson, C. (2014). Developing a social media strategy. College & Research Libraries News, 75(7), 366-369.

Gunton, L., Davis, K., (2012) “Beyond broadcasting: Customer service, community and information experience in the Twittersphere”, Reference Services Review, Vol. 40 Iss: 2, pp.224 – 227

Kardashian, K. (2015, March 31). Retrieved from

Potter, N. (2013, August 27). 10 Golden Rules To Take Your Library’s Twitter Account to the Next Level. Retrieved from

Shulman, J. j., Yep, J., & Tomé, D. (2015). Leveraging the Power of a Twitter Network for Library Promotion. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 41(2), 178-185.

Yep, J. j., & Shulman, J. j. (2014). Analyzing the library’s Twitter network. College & Research Libraries News, 75(4), 177-186.


One thought on “Twitter Tactics for Libraries

  1. Great post! I think Twitter is a very good social media network for libraries to utilize because it gives them the opportunity to get outside of their comfort zone and change the perspective of libraries as just a place with books. Libraries are dramatically changing the way they provide information to patrons and digital resources has almost seemed to overtake print books. Seeing as how digitization has taken over libraries, it only makes sense that they move into the social media sphere and connect with those patrons who heavily rely on digital resources to get information. Multimedia, like you mentioned is a great way to engage readers and get their attention easily.

    More and more libraries in all sectors are now engaging with users online and having a presence on twitter is becoming increasingly important for library services as a means for showcasing both online and offline resources (Facebook and social networking, 2015). I do follow a few libraries on Twitter and unfortunately, they don’t tweet as much as they should. I’m not following WSU libraries on Twitter, but I will be after reading this post. I think Facebook is more of a priority for a lot of libraries than Twitter, but using both social media tools can greatly help connect them with more people. There are a lot of people who may be on Twitter that are not on Facebook and vice versa, so it is important that libraries utilize all digital resources to ensure that their patrons stay up to date on what they are doing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s