Social Media and #Medlibs

Last Thursday the #medlibs group met on Twitter to discuss social media and medical libraries.  As usual it was a fun and interesting discussion.  We primarily discussed three areas of social media and medical libraries.  The transcript can be found here.

Vendor Communication 

It should come as no surprise that companies monitor what is said about them on social media.  What used to be a word of mouth activity, “Did you read that blog that blasted that company” has now become quite automated and much easier to find even brief mentions.  Twitter is a perfect example.  Personally, I have TweetDeck and HootSuite set up to look throughout the Twittersphere to find any tweets that say krafty.    I want to know if anybody is asking a question, has an issue, or just how my re-tweets are represented.  I also have those two programs looking for any tweets that mention the terms medlib, medlibs, or mlanet.  The reason I have the term medlib or medlibs is because medical librarians often send out a tweet about medical library stuff by using the hashtag #medlibs.  We are all human and we sometimes mistype it as medlib and there are always new people who don’t remember to use the hashtag, so my search filter catches those as well.  You can do this for any number of words, people, hashtags, etc.  It may sound complicated but it is extremely simple to do using either of those two Twitter programs. 

So if I am doing it for my own personal reasons, you can bet your bottom dollar that library companies are doing it.   It honestly is easier set Twitter to catch all of the tweets on a company’s name than it is to monitor Medlib-l for a company’s name.  The reason, TweetDeck and Hootsuite automate it, and to my knowledge there is no automated way to monitor the listserv.  As a result, a company like SpringShare is notified as soon as somebody tweets their name.  If I mentioned SpringShare on MEDLIB-l either a company rep has to read the post or somebody has to forward it to them. 

Here is what I am talking about:

TweetDeck Search

TweetDeck searches for all instances of #medlibs and puts them into a seperate column for me to look at.

So companies like SpringShare can do something very similar to what I do (depending on their Twitter software) and instantly become aware of anybody talking about them. This results in fairly quick communication between twitterer and the vendor.  For me it is often faster than when I have posted in MEDLIB-l

Don’t get me wrong, MEDLIB-l definitely has a purpose and Twitter can’t replace the longer discussions that happen there.  However, if you are looking to state a quick question or comment such as “What is going on with Ovid Medline? @WKHealthOvid” or “Having problems with stats @SpringShare LibGuides, anybody else?” Twitter is an excellent way to get quick answers.

As with all companies, there are ones who “get it” and ones who don’t.  Regardless of the method of communication; email, MEDLIB-l post, Twitter, Facebook, etc. there are companies that have poor communication skills or take every critique as an attack.  As I mentioned, in my post “Embrace Your Critics,” there are some companies who don’t see criticism as an opportunity for growth and improvement.  Yet there are other companies that are open to hearing from their customers.  For the most part the same companies that I have encountered as open to hearing from people (good and bad about their product) on MEDLIB-l are also the same on Twitter.

Companies that have responded in positive ways to tweets directed at them:

I follow A LOT of other companies, the above list are just ones I have had very good conversations with via Twitter regarding their product, services, etc.  Note, I didn’t always lavish praise either.  There were a few times where I complained about something not working correctly or suggested an improvement and still they responded in a very positive manner.  
 

Patron Communication

Some librarians monitor their own library feeds and respond to patrons questions or provide information.  Many on the list mentioned that their hospitals or institutions had people in marketing or PR who were monitoring the institution’s name.  This area of discussion wasn’t explored as much as I think it could have been.   Perhaps it is because this sub-topic often seems to creep into other #medlib discussions.  I know @CarolinaFan1982 does a lot with Twitter and his School of Nursing users.

Professional/Personal Information Bleed

Finally the group ended with a discussion on whether there was a need to keep professional/personal divide when tweeting.  I think it depends a lot on who is following you, what you primarily tweet on, and your institution.  More and more institutions have social media policies so it is best to read through those and adhere to them. 

For me, I let some of my personal life bleed into my professional life.  So far it seems to be ok.  If I decide to make the official split I can always have two accounts. One personal and one professional.  I know several librarians who have two Twitter accounts. 

I think it is also important how you respond to tweets.  For example if I tweet:

@EagleDawg Great to see you on #medlibs chat

Only people who follow both me AND @EagleDawg will see that conversation.

BUT if you put an character, even a period at the beginning of the tweet then everyone can see that tweet.

Example:

.@EagleDawg How was the mocha milkshake?

or

#medlibs @EagleDawg How as the mocha milkshake?

Those two tweets can be seen by everyone.  The #medlibs just ensures that the tweet can be seen by people following the #medlibs discussion.  Knowing this information might be helpful regarding personal and professional tone within Twitter. 

Overall

It was a very interesting and fun chat last Thursday.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving, so there will be no #medlibs chat.  We always welcome new people to the group, so feel free to join us November 29th.  Twitter isn’t just wasting time, it can be used for professional communication and we who chat on Thursdays are the perfect example.

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