This is the final part of a series on social media best practices for libraries in 2023. These posts include best practices for the following platforms:
Twitter for Libraries
Well, this is the most difficult section of the 2023 social media guide to write. The platform was thrown into turmoil in October when the sale of Twitter to Elon Musk was finalized.
I wondered whether libraries were planning to change their use of Twitter in 2023. So, I conducted a survey on LinkedIn.
- 35 percent said their library planned to Tweet the same amount or more often.
- 19 percent said they would Tweet less.
- 10 percent said their library planned to stop using Twitter.
- 37 percent of respondents said their library wasn’t using Twitter, even before the sale.
Personally, I have not changed my Twitter behavior. My staff at NoveList also continues to use Twitter in the same manner as before the sale.
If your library plans to keep Tweeting, here are some statistics to consider from Demandsage.com.
- Twitter is the 15th most popular social media platform in the world, as measured by active monthly users.
- The United States has the most Twitter users.
- Most Twitter users are between the ages of 25-34 years.
- 56 percent of Twitter users are male.
- The average user spends ten minutes a day on the app. That’s a 100 percent increase from 2021.
- More than half of Twitter users say they come to the platform to get news.
- 82 percent of Twitter users come to the platform for entertainment.
The Twitter algorithm for 2023
Twitter users can view two timelines: Home and Latest Tweets. The Latest Tweets feed is self-explanatory: users see Tweets in real-time. The Home feed is subject to Twitter’s algorithm.
Twitter uses the following ranking signals to determine what is shown in the Home feed:
- Past user activity: Twitter tries to predict which Tweets users will care about by looking at which accounts the user interacts with frequently. So, if your Twitter followers like and share your Tweets, they’ll see more of them.
- Relevance: Twitter will show your Tweets to non-followers if they think that the user is interested in the topic you are Tweeting about. Location is a key element in this factor, as are hashtags.
- Recency: Twitter will prioritize Tweets about topics that are popular now. But timing is key. Twitter is looking to push emerging conversations rather than topics that have been popular for a while. That can make it hard for libraries to keep up.
- Popularity: The more likes, shares, and replies your Tweets get, the more they’ll be shown in the Home feed.
- Rich media: Twitter prioritizes Tweets that include images, videos, GIFs, and polls.
Here are four ways to boost the reach of your library’s Twitter account in 2023.
Use Twitter to share library news and build brand awareness.
Your library Twitter followers are looking for news on the platform. So, use your Twitter account to share news about your branches, like renovations, changes in service, new resources added to your website, additions to your staff, and appearances at outreach events or community meetings.
And when you don’t have news to share on Twitter, your library can use the platform to build brand awareness and affinity. Here are four ideas for content to post on Twitter that will help your library build a lasting relationship with your community.
Use Twitter to build your library’s email subscriber list
Your library has a unique opportunity to turn the messiness and toxicity of Twitter into something positive, for you and your followers. Let your library Twitter followers know that they can sign up to receive emails that are full of positive, joyful, helpful content from your library.
- Use your Twitter cover photo to promote your email lists.
- Schedule regular promotions on Twitter for your email lists.
- Share a portion of your emails to entice Twitter followers to join your email list.
- Highlight your opt-in page, where people can choose from all your lists.
Create a focused hashtag strategy.
Hashtags increase the visibility of your library’s Tweets. But it’s very hard to narrow down the hashtags that will work for your library. And different library staff members may use hashtags in vastly different ways, making it difficult for your followers to recognize your Tweets and difficult for the algorithm to figure out where to show your content.
Create a list of hashtags your library will use on Twitter in 2023. Share them with any staff member who has access to the account. Explain that this focused list will save your staff time by eliminating the urge to turn every word in a Tweet into a hashtag. It will build your brand identity on Twitter and boost your organic reach more effectively over time.
Here’s a simple list to help you select your Twitter hashtags.
- Location: Hashtags that identify where your branch is located or your wider geographic service area, like #Cincinnati or #PriceHill.
- Library-specific hashtags: Branded hashtags that communicate your library’s tagline or mission, vision, and values, like #BrowseBorrowBloom or #ForMindsOfAllKinds
- Service: Hashtags that identify a service or feature of your library, like #Makerspace, #HomeworkHelp, or #BabyStorytime.
- Seasons: Hashtags that are used during different times of the year, such as #WinterReadingChallenge or #SummerAtTheLibrary.
- Holidays and notable days: Hashtags used to identify holidays, including literary holidays like #ReadAnEbookDay and #FourthOfJuly.
- Local events: Hashtags that are used when your library is participating in outreach events, like #HamptonBookFestival or #AthensFoodFair.
Don’t use all the hashtags from your list in every Tweet. Choose one or two that apply most to whatever you are Tweeting.
And remember to use camel case in your hashtags, to ensure they are accessible to all followers.
Always Tweet “completely” with a caption and rich media.
I see a lot of libraries that share Tweets that consist of a graphic or photo and a link, but that don’t include a caption or hashtag. I know it takes extra time and creativity to do what I’m referring to as a “complete Tweet” but Twitter is watching. And they will penalize your library for skipping this step.
Your caption doesn’t have to be long (see the section below on ideal Tweet length). But always include at least one sentence, a hashtag, and a photo, video, or GIF in each Tweet.
Twitter allows your library to add up to four photos or videos and one GIF to Tweets. You can even mix and match your rich media within a Tweet. Experiment and see what your audience responds to.
How often and when to post on Twitter
Your library should post at least 1-2 times every day. But the good news is that the latest data shows you should not post more than 5 times a day!
Experts say the best time to post is 11 a.m. on weekdays. I have tested this with my own account, and that advice has been on point.
How much text should be in a Twitter post?
Most experts advise your library not to use the entire 280-character limit on Twitter. Give people the room to quote Tweet your library.
Be sure to include hashtags. Twitter data shows that Tweets with hashtags get ten percent more views that Tweets without them.
One note: On December 12, 2022, Twitter announced that they are working on features that would enable users to post longer videos and more text, perhaps as much as 4,000 characters. Keep an eye on this. If the change becomes reality, you’ll want to experiment to see if your audience responds to longer videos and text from your library’s Twitter account.
Twitter image best practices
The recommended upload size for a static post image on Twitter is 1200 x 675 pixels. If you work in aspect ratios, that’s 16:9. You can Tweet up to four images in each post.
Measuring success on Twitter
If you don’t have a third-party social media schedule, you can see your Twitter data by logging in to your Twitter account and going to analytics.twitter.com.
Twitter supplies a month-by-month summary of your profile. The analytics will show you how your library’s Twitter account 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 “Tweets” buttons will give you a complete breakdown of the engagement on each Tweet. There’s also a separate section with analytics for videos.
You can export all the data.
Bonus tip: don’t worry about losing library Twitter followers.
Many Twitter users are exiting the platform in the wake of Musk’s purchase. Musk has also been open about his desire to remove fake or “bot” accounts from the platform.
It’s perfectly normal to gain and lose Twitter followers, especially when the platform’s future is uncertain. I don’t do a lot of predictions, but I do believe follower counts will continue to drop in 2023, as people migrate to other platforms or curtail their social media use altogether, especially in the United States.
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