Sunday, April 13, 2014

Playing with and Analyzing Twitter

Because I am already a Twitter user, albeit a fairly new one, I decided to focus my "play" more on analysis of how the technology is being utilized by libraries than how to use it. A brief synopsis of Twitter is that it is a social media cite where users can post status updates (called tweets) or photos to their followers. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be tweeted directly to other users, using the @ symbol and their twitter handle. Another popular feature of twitter is the hashtag, which is used to follow the tweets on a particular topic.

I wanted to learn more about the UW Madison Libraries account, so I started looking into Twitter apps that would help me analyze its activity. One of the sites I used was Tweetdeck, which the librarian I interviewed had mentioned. Tweetdeck organizes your Twitter account into columns, making it a little simpler to manage. I made use of its capability to follow a particular hashtag; all I had to do was set up a column following #UWBookMadness and everything that was tweeted using the hashtag was available for me to see. I could see how this would be a very useful resource for an institution, especially if they are starting a hashtag and want to see how popular it is. The other Twitter app that I used was called Twitonomy. Twitonomy advertised itself as a way to analyze competitors' Twitter accounts, so I was curious to see what kind of information would be available on it. As it turns, out almost everything! They have information ranging from what hashtags the account uses most, to what time of day they most often tweet, to stats about how many times the account tweets per day and how often they get re-tweeted. Twitonomy gave me a lot of insight into how a UW Madison library uses their social media

After looking over some of the statistical data, I did do my own experiments with the Twitter accounts. Although I had tweeted to friends and my followers in general, I had never tweeted to people or institutions I didn't know. I decided to try tweeting at the UW Madison Library account, to see what and when they would respond. I tweeted "How do you plan to celebrate #NationalPoetryMonth?" to the Libraries at 6:00pm on Wednesday night. By 9:00 the next morning, they had responded to my tweet.  with "By submitting haikus about the library". I thought that they had a very good response time  to my question and their tone fit with the more "playful" voice that the library account uses. I also sent out a tweet to Representative Paul Ryan about a political issue, which he has not (as of now) responded to. 

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