This is the second in a six-part series on social media best practices for libraries in 2021. I’m researching the most up-to-date tips for posting on the platforms most frequently used by libraries and sharing new insights every Monday. Learn about Facebook for libraries in 2021 here.

Twitter for libraries

Twitter use exploded during the pandemic. The company says average daily use grew 34 percent between April and June of this year.

And the Tweets haven’t slowed down. On any given day in the world, 186 million people are on the platform and about 500 million Tweets are sent.  

But according to Rival IQ, engagement rates have steadily declined this year. It’s no wonder. With all that content, it’s easy for anything your library posts to get lost in the shuffle.

However, there are two big reasons for libraries to post strategicially on Twitter. According to research by Omnicore, 38 percent of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29. I bet you thought the kids just hung out on Instagram and TikTok!

The second reason to continue to promote your library on Twitter is that 93 percent of Twitter users say they prefer to follow brands who are culturally engaged. That perfectly describes the work of your library.

The Twitter algorithm for 2021

The Twitter algorithm uses four major ranking signals to decide who sees your library’s Tweets.

Timeliness: Priority is given to newer Tweets.

Engagement: Priority is given to posts with retweets, clicks, favorites, and impressions.

Rich Media: Priority is given to Tweets containing images, GIFs, and videos.

Activity: Priority is given to library accounts that post regularly and have active, engaged followers.

Here are four ways to put the algorithm to work for you.

Have a strategy for retweeting.

An interesting piece of data from Linchpin reveals that Tweets asking followers specifically for a retweet get more retweets (go figure!). In fact, if you spell out the word “retweet” in your ask, you may see an increase of engagement of about 23 percent!

So don’t be afraid to ask for followers to retweet, especially when you are posting about changes or additions to library service. You might also try this tactic when you post inspiring or motivational tweets.

Likewise, get into the habit of retweeting from your library’s accounts. Check the Twitter accounts of partner organizations in your area, like schools, museums, and literacy organizations. Retweeting their content shows your followers that you are a generous, and supportive organization.

The Okotoks Library retweeted a post from the Town of Okotoks about a new Arts & Learning Campus in their community.

Give your followers some personal attention.

When a follower tags you or replies or comments on a Tweet, respond quickly and publicly. Doing so will encourage other followers to engage in Twitter conversations with you and act on your Tweets.

Talk about how your library can help students.

Next to politics, the most popular topic of conversation on Twitter continues to be education. Tweets and conversations around education increased by 108 percent this year, according to Social Media Today.

The pandemic is likely to affect students of all ages in 2021. Libraries can capitalize on this by offering help to students, parents, and educators. Focus a good portion of your Tweets this year on promoting your education-based services.

And ask your followers to Tweet you back with stories about how they have used the library to help them with remote learning in a time of COVID. Your followers will be inspired by the success of other community members.

Start doing some social listening.

Social listening is kind of like eavesdropping. It’s paying attention to conversations happening on Twitter that provide insights into your community and followers. You can use Twitter’s advanced search tool to find out what people are saying.

Some of the topics you should pay attention to include: Your library’s name, industry hashtags, like #LibrariesTransform, #WinterReading, #LibrariesofTwitter, buzzwords, and relevant trending topics.

Tweet from the Cincinnati Library about the day someone left a pork loin in one of their branches.

How often and when to post on Twitter

Data suggest that engagement for brands on Twitter jumps on the weekend, when most brands are not sending out Tweets. So, try scheduling more Tweets on weekends.

You can post as often as you like on Twitter. However, the latest data from Linchpin suggest that engagement goes down when libraries send more than four Tweets a day. You’ll want to experiment to see how many Tweets you can send without suffering lower engagement.

One great thing about Twitter is that you can repeat content. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I usually create two distinctive Tweets to promote each blog post. For the first week after a blog publishes, I post a promotional Tweet once a day in different time segments. After that, I choose different days of the week randomly scattered throughout the following months.

Twitter’s algorithm gives priority to newly published Tweets. So, re-posting Tweets on different days and at different times of the day will boost your content repeatedly.

Experiment to see when your Tweets get the best engagement. It’s okay to Tweet in the middle of the night. Twitter is a 24-hour-a-day platform, and you may find you get engagement at 2 a.m.!

How much text should be in a Twitter post?

Keep your text to 100 characters or less if possible. This allows your followers enough space to retweet and add their own comments.

And be sure to include a hashtag, but not more than two hashtags. Tweets with hashtags receive twice the engagement but engagement goes down if you use more than two hashtags. Make one hashtag specific to your library, community, or marketing campaign and the other can be something that will get wide appeal for your tweet.

Twitter image best practices

 Tweets with images have an engagement rate that’s twice those without images. In addition, GIFs appear to be the best kind of image to include in your Tweet!

The recommended upload size for a static image on Twitter is 1024 x 513 pixels. If you work in aspect ratios, Twitter recommends your feed images be 16:9

Measuring success on Twitter 

To see your data, log in to your Twitter account and go to analytics.twitter.com

Twitter supplies a 28-day summary of your profile and show you how it has performed in terms of profile visits, follower growth, tweet impressions, and mentions. It also gives you an analysis of the impressions your tweets are getting, as well as details on retweets, mentions, favorites, and clicks.

Clicking on the bar chart icon of any of your tweets will show a complete breakdown of the engagement on the tweet, including clicks on URLs, clicks on your username, clicks on images, and expanded details. 

You can export all the data. 

You may also like these posts

The 2021 Guide to Social Media for Libraries: Facebook

What to Do When Someone Tells Your Library to CALM DOWN on Social Media!

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