Archive for October, 2012

This event made me aware of how experienced I am compared to many others in the library world, but also how much I still have to learn. In the lift up on the way to the event I started chatting to someone who had come along because they were considering entering the social media world, starting with the more sedate LinkedIn before launching in to the craziness that is Twitter. In the networking opportunity afterwards I was approached by many asking how experienced was I with Twitter, and on hearing that I was on there, asked me all number of questions from what is a TweetDeck to what kind of twitter name they should choose.

When I reported back to my work colleagues the next day, it turned out that only one of them had a LinkedIn profile, and she had admitted that after setting it up initially she has never gone back to it. However Twitter is used in our Library as a tool for current awareness, though not in a big way within the firm in general.

Being of the generation that grew up with the Internet and various social media, and as a new professional, I am still surprised by how many are not utilising social media to their full advantage – whether as individuals or businesses. The law sector has a reputation for being traditional, old fashioned and resisting change, but it is slowly embracing social media as a marketing tool to clients and as a way of exchanging information between colleagues. Laura Woods mentioned that at her law firm there is a social media strategy in place that actively encourages lawyers to tweet snippets of expertise in order to raise profiles and profile of firm overall. What I thought was particularly brilliant was that in order to support the lawyers braving the world of Twitter, the firm created an inter-departmental panel of expert or experienced tweeters to provide advice on the art of condensing information into a tweet, help the lawyers find key experts to follow and feed them breaking news to tweet to their followers. I think social media pervading the workplace is only going to increase, and it is the information professional’s role to consider how the Library could, or should, get involved. As a current awareness tool, it seems obvious that is the Library’s responsibility to scan the news and communicate it to their users, but it seems to fall in to Marketing when the news is for the purpose of retweeting to followers who may be potential clients.

With the digital native generation coming through, law firms must appeal to clients of the younger ‘Google’ age, and social media will surely play a massive part in this. For example, as mentioned in my previous post Google prioritises platforms with regularly updated content. So if a client googles ’employment solicitors’, the results that will be ranked highest will be social media platforms over static websites. The challenge is to find how social media can utilised to benefit you and your library, and then to persuade the others in your organisation to these benefits.

Do you have any stories of success, or indeed failure, of how social media has been used in your personal experience or in a professional capacity?


Read Full Post »


For librarians and information professionals, Twitter seems to be champion of social media outlets. The speakers spoke of the various uses they put Twitter to, such as following conferences through attendees live tweeting (I have tried live tweeting from the SLA conference, but I don’t seem to have the happy talent of being able to tweet and follow what the speaker is saying at the same time!). Twitter can also be used for professional development and building a broad and appropriate network of professionals. One of the reasons I first started using Twitter was to follow what other professionals were saying and what stories they were re-tweeting for my own development, rather than actively tweeting myself. If there is a library related news story I hear about at work and want to look in to, the first place I look for it is in my Twitter feed, as I know someone I am following is bound to have tweeted about it.

Meghan Jones did note that Twitter is not the greatest medium for debating topics due to the restricted length of tweets, and this is certainly true. However, tweets on a controversial subject can direct you to blogs where there are some very lengthy debates going on, and Twitter’s utility as a discussion tool can be seen by the success of UKLibChat, which are monthly discussions that you can follow through the hashtag #UKLibChat.

Also, Laura Woods made the very important point that there is no other way to build a comparable and as effective a network as on Twitter. For example, Laura follows 800 people on Twitter, information professionals and non-information professionals alike and from all over the world. In reality it is not really possible to meet 800 of the best or most interesting professionals all around the world and maintain relations with them all. Twitter provides a way to build up a broad and appropriate professional network, which as a new professional I have found extremely useful by having professionals I can ask advice from despite having never met them before, keeping updated on news, and simply getting to know the professionals out there.

What I took away most from the Twitter discussions were the signs of how to detect whether someone is comfortable using Twitter, as this made me evaluate my own use of Twitter and whether I am as truly comfortable using it as I think I am.  According to the speakers, you can tell when someone is an experienced Tweeter, or indeed a novice by reversing it, if they blend the professional and personal in their tweets. These are the most interesting tweeters, and they show that they are real people rather than automated RSS feeds. As a tweeter, I am more of a listener. I do not tweet very often, but I do tweet both professional and personal content (the latter being mainly baking related!). However, I am not entirely comfortable with tweeting explicitly about work, although I am happy tweeting about professional activities outside of work, such as SLA or CILIP events such as this one. This is mainly to do with not having access to Twitter while at work, but I feel I should try and make more of an effort to tweet more.

Read Full Post »

This SLA Europe event consisted of Laura Woods @WoodsieGirl, Meghan Jones @barbaragordonand Neil Infield speaking about their experiences of using social media both at work and at home. Unsurprisingly, Twitter seemed to be the primary social media outlet that was used, with the potential impact of successful blogs also demonstrated.

I thought it would be most useful to summarise the notes I took with my own personal reflections and organise them by social media application rather than speaker, so you can skip to what is interesting to you.


Facebook was passed over fairly quickly by the speakers in usefulness for professional development or networking. It was noted that with Facebook there is a culture that you only ‘friend’ people who you actually know, and this is in direct contrast to the openness of Twitter where it is deemed OK to follow and have conversations with complete strangers. This is certainly true, however as time goes on I have noted that there are more and more businesses, and indeed libraries, which are creating presences on Facebook and are successfully using profiles and groups to communicate information and market themselves to users. My use of Facebook is primarily personal for keeping up to date with friends and family, as I think is the use by most members of Facebook. However, I am also a member of what could be thought of as professional development groups on Facebook, such as the SLA Europe Facebook group, and this could increase in the future although I doubt it will ever overtake my personal use of it.


Although a form of social media, I feel the form of the blog is a more permanent and sustainable form of social media as it is not tied to an all-powerful and single dominate platform like Facebook and Twitter. It is also expressive of the very essence of Web 2.0; being primarily a way to not only present information to the world, but to receive responses and respond to those in turn, potentially facilitating lengthy debates simply not possible through Twitter and its character-restricted tweets. Furthermore these blogs or debates are available to anyone on the World Wide Web to read and many blog platforms do not require you to sign up or even provide a name to submit a response to a blog post; providing users with complete anonymity and the freedom to express themselves without fear of repercussion.Blog

The speakers emphasised the utility of blogs as a means to start a conversation, rather than simply as a means to broadcast information one way, which I think many including myself can easily fall in to the trap of. Examples were given of how projects had been initiated through simple comments on blog posts. Blogging also provides a mutually beneficial learning network, and its main advantage is its ability to raise one’s own profile. Neil Infield’s very successful blog In through the outfield directs 25% of traffic to the BL’s Business and IP Centre’s website, which is an absolutely astonishing statistic. Blogs may not be as successful as Twitter and Facebook in terms of user numbers, but arguably they can have a much bigger impact. Google prioritises websites with frequently updated content such as blogs in search results over static websites. This entails a far wider readership of blog posts on topics through Google search results. Consequently, a tip Neil Infield offered was to write a blog post at least once a week in order to stay in Google’s search ranking good books, as well as to increase your profile and keep content up to date.

A problem that can be encountered with blog writing is an uncertainty as to what to write. This can create a number of concerns, particularly if you may be representing an institution, company or employer. Do you speak with a formal and official voice for the body you represent? Or do you let your personal views and personality come through? The advice given by the speakers, which I think was the most important I took away from the session, was that a happy medium between the two is the best, and this applies to any social media outlet. It is reassuring for readers to know that the blog writer, tweeter, etc. is a real person and not an automated RSS feed or anonymous company voice. By blending the personal with the official it is easier to build a trust with the readers, which is extremely important whether speaking on your own behalf or that of an institution or company.

Read Full Post »