Personal Tweets on a Professional Account, Can It Be Done and Still Be Professional?

I read an interesting article this morning, “Strictly business? Personal tweets make profs more “credible” the author, Jacqui Cheng, referred to a study in the March issue of Learning, Media and Technology that “students perceive instructors who make social tweets as more credible than instructors who remain strictly business.”

It seems that the students like to know that their professors are human, and have a life besides their profession. In some way that sharing of personal information increased their perceived credibility to students more so than those who completely did scholarly tweets.

Interesting.  While I consider this a professional blog, I do let my personality seep through often.  Whether it is a story about the realization that  being a librarian is in my DNA when I organized my attic, or quick little references to the 80’s or other pop culture items, I find that these stories or analogies best convey my point or thought to readers.  If it just happens to provide a brief window into my mind, so be it. 

I would say for most people it is ok to mix a little personal stuff in with your professional Twitter, blog or Facebook account.  A funny picture of a cat or an appropriate story, isn’t going to hurt anyone.  But what if I were tweeting, blogging, or managing the Facebook page of my library or another professional site where it is clear that it is an institution not a individual’s account? Credibility is extremembly important for an institution, especially medical. Is it possible to inject some personable or social bit of information on to an organization’s professional site?  What is the “personality” of the library/organization and how do you show it and remain professional?  The organization’s “personality” is made up of more than just the person blogging, tweeting, etc. so this can be even trickier.

Is there a difference between personal social media and organizational/institutional social media regarding credibility?  Can an organization, business, or institution have a social media presence that is professional yet have “social” type tweets or posts?  I think it is very tricky to do well, and that is why you often have some spectacular failures when businesses try to reach out and get personal with their customers.   The fear of an epic #fail probably causes many business to be strictly professional, with little “personality.” Yet, when there is a company that puts some personality into their social presence like, Old Spice, they are highly profiled (there is case study on Old Spice’s success).  Now does that mean that Old Spice is considered more credible than similar brand companies that play it straight?  Kind of hard to compare a men’s shower gel and shaving cream company to the same notion of credibility regarding science and medical institutions.  But what is the harm in showing something like the image of the Bookmas Tree in your library or the nurse at Mass General (article) who made the Cal Stat Rap (YouTube video)?

If you have a personal professional presence, you can certainly infuse a little social personality into it and remain professional, as long as you don’t over share with things that have your readers mimicking  the Hear No Evil, See No Evil monkeys while chanting “TMI!”  If you are responsible for an institutional or organization site, it might be more difficult to interject some personality, but it can be done.

Facebook and Twitter: 2010 social demographics

So if you had any questions as to who is on Facebook and Twitter, this graphic  from (technology company, not actual surgeons) shows some interesting information about Facebook and Twitter users. 

Of the 500 million Facebook users 41% login every day and almost a third of them log in through a mobile device.  Women use it a little bit more than men, and the 18-34 year olds are the biggest users representing 52% of the usage combined.  This interesting and I am starting to notice real world examples supporting the average usage age.  In my personal life I am starting to notice that some in this age group will answer Facebook messages more often than regular email. 

Twitter is a fifth of the size of Facebook with only 106 million users.  A slightlyolder crowd uses Twitter, the 26-44 year olds are the largest group at 57% combined.  Only 27% of the users login every day but of those that login over half (57% update their status).  While only 25% of the users follow a brand on Twitter, that group is extremely loyal, 67% of the followers will purchase that specific brand.  Compare that with the higher number of brand followers on Facebook (40%) who are less loyal and purchasing that specific brand (51%). 

So what does this mean for libraries, medicine, and hospitals?  One look at the age tells you that Facebook and Twitter are not solely the realm of teenagers.  Adults are using it and make up the largest group of users.  So it stands to reason that our library users are on Facebook and Twitter.  Reaching out to them with the right message in the right way is the next step.  This may sound like a far fetched idea, but if users continue to use Facebook more than email, do we need to look at ways to send them overdue notices?  Just one thought.  Medical schools and residency programs already are recruiting people through Facebook.  Medical schools and well endowed hospitals track through Facebook or have Facebook pages to facilitate donations.

Brand loyalty is something that is extremely important to hospitals.  Hospitals are always looking at ways to get new patients, keep the ones they have, and measure patient satisfaction.  For example, not only will good HCAHPS scores mean more physical money to the hospital, but satisfied patients are more likely to return and less likely to go somewhere else for another procedure.  I am not trying to compare Twitter loyalty to HCAHPS scores, I am just saying that brand loyalty is extremely important to hospitals and Twitter is just another example illustrating how some people show their brand loyalty. 

Should you run out and create a library Facebook or Twitter account?  Well not if you don’t have a plan or reason to use it, but you shouldn’t dismiss it either or think of it as something just for people who work with teenagers.

Using Facebook for Professional Reasons

Facebook can be a useful tool or a fun way to waste some time.  Really the same can be said about a lot of tools we use in the work place.  Email, we can’t live without it now (ok I can’t live without it, I don’t know about the rest of you all) but how many of us use our work email to email friends and family?  The same can be said about the phone too, although I have to say I use the phone less than I use email.  So it isn’t surprising that Facebook can serve two purposes for some people.

I have two Facebook accounts.  A public one, The Krafty Librarian, and a personal one. I use the public one specifically to speak about library issues and things of interest to medical librarians, basically it is an extension of my blog.  My personal Facebook site is set up really to just chat with friends and family and do typical Facebook-ish type things like post family pictures and talk about personal things like painting my house.

Most people don’t want or need a public Facebook page, and for those that don’t have one it is important to look at the Facebook settings for a personal account and think about whether putting “friends” in categories.  I have three main friend categories on my personal Facebook page, family, friends, and librarians.  There is some cross over, for example I have some good friends who are librarians so those people are in both lists.  Not only does this allow me to restrict access to certain things like family photos to certain groups of people but equally important it allows me to selectively post things to my wall.  I can post an library related article and have it only be visible to librarians.  Like wise I can post an link to my new favorite TV series The Walking Dead that is only visible to my friends.  That way my friends aren’t inundated with library stuff and librarians aren’t inundated with zombie stories. 

Having a public site and having my personal site’s friend list subdivided has been very helpful for communicating news, stories, and chatting.  But what has been the most helpful is using Facebook’s messaging feature.  When I am out of the office on work trips the best way to stay connected to work email is using my laptop.  That can get quickly tiresome.  So if possible I try and leave my laptop at home for smaller trips.  That means my iPhone is the only way I can get email.  Since I work in a hospital, I cannot sync my iPhone with my work email.  However I can access work’s web mail through it.  This is not the most ideal method for viewing and responding to email.  Most of the time I use it just to respond to time sensitive emails.  Unless I know a person’s email address by heart it is difficult to access my work email’s address book to compose anything. 

Monday night I was in Seattle for a site visit for the 2012 annual meeting.  Since I live on East coat time and I was visiting West coast time, I was up bright and early at 4:00am with thoughts about speakers and other questions.  Despite my best efforts my brain would not turn off and let me go to sleep, it thought it was 7:00am and it wanted me to do something about what was bouncing around in my brain.  I decided I would email various people to try and get some answers and ideas to things dancing in my head.  I realized most of the librarians I needed to email were already friends on my Facebook account.  So instead of logging onto web mail, I launched the Facebook app and messaged the librarians.

Not only can Facebook be a good way to share news and information through a Wall post, but it can also provide an alternative method of personal communication when you can’t access your traditional email system.

Life After Bloglines, Is NetVibes the Answer?

Bloglines will be gone soon and I have used these last few weeks to try and find an adequate replacement.  In the back of mind I knew I could always use Google Reader in a pinch but for some reason I haven’t been a fan of Google Reader (that is why I always stuck with Bloglines) so I wanted to see if there was something that seemed to work better for me. 

First off the reader had to be web based.  I jump on too many computers through out my life to be tied to any installed software or to rely on IE’s feed reader.  I also wanted something that could search for keywords, save that search and automatically update me on any new blog posts, news stories, press releases, etc. that mentioned those keywords.  Not all feed readers do this (Bloglines did) and I found this feature to be crucial in keeping up to date for my blog, librarianship, and my day to day job. In a pinch I could always find specific search engines and create a search and save it as an RSS feed (similar to what people can do in PubMed), but I do like having an integrated search box in my feed reader to actively search things out there not just within my subscribed feeds.  I was also interested in seeing how some feed readers are handling Facebook and Twitter.  As the pundits at TechCrunch stated that those two products seem to have changed the face and flow of information. 

After looking at several products (and already saving my Bloglines feeds in Google Reader just in case I didn’t find anything before they pulled the plug) I found NetVibes.  Registration was a little clunky for me.  I first tried registering using my usual webmail address and for some reason I never got the authentication email from NetVibes.  It wasn’t in my inbox and it wasn’t in my bulk.  NetVibes does allow you to resend the email or change the address (in case you mistyped it).  I checked the email and it was correct but I still never received it, so I tried changing the email to a different one but that didn’t work.  So I ended up completely re-registering using a different login name and email address.  With that change I was able to get the authentication email. 

Netvibes has two frontpage looks to it, the “widgets view’ and the “reader view.”  The widget view is similar to iGoogle.  I am not a big fan of iGoogle nor the widget view, it is too distracting to me.  I like the reader view the best.  Of course this is totally a personal taste issue, so if you like the iGoogle style, you will probably like the widget view.  However for this post, everything I refer to will be as I see things in the reader view. 

Uploading your feeds from Bloglines is very easy.  However be forewarned that when you first upload them, it will treat everything as new feeds.  This means you will have lots of unread items going back to the dawn of time.  I had some crazy number in the thousands of unread items.  So you are going to have to have mark a lot things as read and make sure you click the tab “Show only unread items” or you are going to be met with a lot to sift through.

Unlike Bloglines, Netvibes lets you keep things once you have read them. Google Reader, as well as a lot of feed readers, allow you to keep already read items, but it is worth mentioning because if you are a heavy Bloglines user you are used to things disappearing after you click on them.   I like this save feature but it is going to take some to get used to for me.

Netvibes feed reading is good and while I haven’t explored every nook and cranny of this area, it appears to do what many other feed readers normally do.  What sets NetVibes apart from many feed readers including Google is how it treats sharing feeds via social media.  You can email a feed to somebody (Google allows emailing feeds) and you can click on a feed and share it to your Facebook page, Twitter Account and several other social media platforms liked LinkedIn.   I had problems the first day emailing feeds to people, but I think that is because that was the same day I activated my account.  I have had no problems emailing feeds since.  I had no problems posting feeds on my Facebook personal page.  However I have two pages, my personal page and my fan page.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to get NetVibes to post to my fan page not my personal page.  This is a problem with the Facebook “like” button and Facebook icon on other regular web pages so it doesn’t surprise me that NetVibes has problems knowing that I have two pages.  Most people only have one Facebook page so they wouldn’t have this similar problem.  If you have a library Facebook page, you might want to consider two NetVibes accounts (one with the library information) for easy posting of feeds from the library.  I am still having difficulties sharing feeds via Twitter.  My Twitter account is open, anybody can subscribe to the feed, so it should be able to work.  I can tweet within NetVibes, just not share a feed on Twitter via NetVibes.  This was a feature I was most excited about too. (*see note at bottom, the Twitter share feature is now working.)

So how does it do with the keyword searching?  Pretty good.  Of course nothing is as sophisticated as Medline and you can do some pretty intricate web search strategies within Google Advanced Search.  But all in all it handles basic keyword searches pretty well.  You can also create a keyword search in another program (PubMed, Twitter, MedWorm, etc.) and save it as an RSS feed and upload that feed into NetVibes. 

NetVibes widgets allows you to try and get creative with search feeds.  You can use certain widgets to create your own keyword search.  The widgets I looked at specifically were the blog search widget and the Twitter search widget.  These widgets are supposed to search for information within certain platforms or social media (podcasts, blogs, Twitter, Flickr, etc.).  I don’t like the blog search widget, the search engines they use are too generic for my tastes so I will stick with using things like MedWorm and other blog search engines and saving them as an RSS feed to import into NetVibes.  The Twitter search widget is fairly good, I am comparing it to my TweetDeck searches and it appears that it retrieves the same results in a timely manner. 

Theoretically you can use the widgets to search for Podcasts as well but when I started the process of adding the widget and adding my search terms I noticed that all of the podcast search engines it profiled were no longer available.  So if you like to keep up to date on the latest podcasts, I recommend going to your favorite podcast search engine and grabbing the search and importing it as RSS feed into NetVibes.

While it appears that the widgets in NetVibes have the potential to be a fairly strong components to their service, they are also problematic because there seems to be no authority control like removing of old non-functioning widgets or editing widgets with non-functioning components. 

NetVibes is quirky and I think I like it for now.  It is definitely more beefed up than Bloglines or Google Reader, I like the potential it has for sharing feeds and news items using email and the social network, this is a huge feature for me (if I can ever get the stupid Twitter share thing to work). But if you are looking for a straight feed reader then NetVibes’ bells and whistles, along with a lot of their broken or clunky bells and whistles can be a bit of a pain and it is best to probably stick with Google Reader.  Google Reader already has the email feeds feature, and if it comes out with social sharing then it will hands down my feed reader of choice.  While I don’t like Google Reader’s searching features (for searching for posts, tweets, podcasts, etc.) using keywords, NetVibes inconsistantly faulty widgets is worse. I am going to stick with doing a searches via my specific search engines (Twitter, blog, podcast, etc.) and save the strategies as an RSS feed.  Time consuming to set up but once it is set, I don’t have to touch it that often. 

The social sharing stuff has me liking NetVibes just a little bit more than Google Reader and even old Bloglines, but the overall clunkiness might have me using Google Reader eventually.

**Note: I am now able to share my feeds (or share my articles as NetVibes calls it) via Twitter.  I didn’t do anything different or change anything, in fact I have spent this time searching online for possible bugs, fixes, incorrect settings, etc. for this.  All of a sudden it now works.  I wrote this post on Monday September 27th.  I set up my NetVibes account Thursday September 23rd.  My only guess is that it takes NetVibes some time to get things set up and working all together. 

I stand by the fact that I love the social sharing part to NetVibes, I am less than thrilled by their apparent bugginess and quirks.  If it does take them time to validate email, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever that should be noted in their FAQs.  Like I said if Google Reader starts implementing social sharing, NetVibes better get their buggy act together because I think might switch.

Facebook and Twitter Have Killed Bloglines

I logged on to my Bloglines account over the weekend and was greeted with the message that Bloglines will shut down October 1st.  According to news update from, information is “gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. As Steve Gillmor pointed out in TechCrunch last year, being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow.” continues to state that Bloglines usage has dropped off considerably as RSS feeds have moved from the consumer side of things to more of the backbone/infrastructure resource for other social information products.  While I completely agree with that the rise of Twitter and Facebook have led to more or different methods of information sharing, I still need my RSS feeds.  I have developed quite a list of blogs, news feeds, and Internet search queries that I monitor.  I do pay attention and monitor Twitter and Facebook, and I have noticed that I grab a lot of real time news and information from them but  I have not figured out how to gather topical information to me using something other than my Bloglines feed. 

People have asked me where I have found my information and how do I stay on top of it all.  The simple answer is that I have about 5-10 search strategies that I developed in my feed reader.  These search strategies look throughout the Internet for information, news, blog posts, etc. Whatever it finds is then listed under that feed on my Bloglines and I scroll through it every day like others read the morning newspaper.  I have been able to somewhat duplicate this information retrieval method using TweetDeck (a Twitter application) .  It picks up good but different information from my Bloglines search strategies.  

So what about Facebook?  That is also an interesting method for learning about new information, but it only picks up things that my friends like or post on their walls.  “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  If information is out there and nobody Facebooks it or tweets it, will I hear it?  I relied on my Bloglines feeds to hear it.

Have feed readers started the path to extinction and I am one of the few still hanging on to it?  Are there other tools out there that I am unaware of that will actively retreive and report information without my friends tweeting or posting it on their wall?  Are there add ons or widgets to these social tools that will find things that my friends don’t? 

In the last year or two people have reported that the blog is dead that people are sharing information via Twitter and Facebook.  So far I have clung to the idea that the blog isn’t dead, but it has evolved and is no longer the blog of old.  The blog of old is dead, the new blog that is integrated into a website, posts to Facebook and Twitter, is still around and important.  It doesn’t take more than 140 characters to share or forward information, but people do communicate in more than 140 characters.  However, the closing of Bloglines is definitely a sign of how things have changed. 

I have no idea how Facebook, Twitter, and things yet to be created will shape how we find and share information in the future. One thing I know is that if you still have a blog (personal or professional) and you haven’t integrated it with Facebook and Twitter you better, and if you have a bunch of feeds on Bloglines and still rely upon them you need to move them before October 1st.  Perhaps moving my feeds to Google is a little akin to arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and feed readers will disappear.  Who knows?  But I am definitely going to be looking at other methods to find information that isn’t always tweeted or posted on a wall.