Thursday, 3 December 2009

Dipping a toe into Twitter

Communication and building a sense of community are two concepts which lie at the heart of our activities within the Welsh Repository Network. Consequently, getting to grips with, and exploting, those Web 2.0 technologies which enable new forms of communication and community building form a central part of our project plan. In some areas (such as this blog) we are already up and running, but in others we are still very much at the explorer stage. I plan to offer a series of posts here on our blog about our experiences with some of these tools as we start to engage with them. First up, Twitter.

I have been registed in a personal capacity with Twitter for a wee while now but my own use of it has been patchy and my interest has phased in and out over time. I am a terrible lurker and enjoy reading occaisonal tweets from others, but I've never quite found the inspiration (or time!) to share my thoughts and activities with others - always assuming what I was up to was of little interest to the wider world. Then last month I had the opportunity of hearing Brian Kelly of UK Web Focus give a presentation about the use of Web 2.0 in Universities and I picked up all sorts of new ideas about how some of these tools could be used in the workplace. In particular Brian's message that we should all be monitoring our brand through Twitter struck a chord and I headed back to the office with renewed vigour to look at this again.

So, gradually I am coming round to the idea of using Twitter for work purposes. I've started to use TweetDeck on a daily basis. TweetDeck is software which offers users a better way of managing tweets, allowing you to monitor searches, create groups of tweets and store the tweet traffic in a more organised fashion than that offered by the single stream interface you get on the Twitter home page. Then last week we launched the first of our WRN learning object and within minutes of our message hitting the mailing lists we were creating a little buzz in Twitterland with several people tweeting about our new resource! I was able to monitor this 'buzz' in TweetDeck and now have evidence of how widely our message is reaching. This will be very useful when it comes to reporting back to JISC. What struck me was that it was people external to our project who were doing the tweeting about our resources; while this was very welcome shouldn't we have got in there first and included tweeting the resource as part of our communications plan for the launch? Hmm, yes I think so. So we now have a Twitter username - wrnstaff - and plan to include tweeting into our communication strategy for future project deliverables. It is going to take some time and effort to maintain the mindset required to share more information in this way, but as our project starts to deliver more tangible outputs I think it will become easier to include tweeting in our thinking. It will also take time for us to build up the connections and followers required to find our place in the community so please do consider following us if you use Twitter.

Finally, the whole topic of Twitter is generating some interesting discussions within the repository community. There is a useful round up on the UKCoRR blog, while for more detailed information about tweeting repository deposits see the Enlighten blog.

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