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Twitter at the Office - by Lisa Carlucci Thomas


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How can we extend the benefits and strengths of Twitter by using it in the workplace for internal communication?

Thomas, Lisa Carlucci. "Twitter at the Office." Social Eyes. Journal of Web Librarianship 4.1 (2010): 79-82. <http: />

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Twitter at the Office - by Lisa Carlucci Thomas

  1. 1. Twitter at the Office<br />Lisa Carlucci Thomas<br />Digital Services Librarian<br />Southern Connecticut State University<br />New communication norms are emerging due to the enormous popularity of Twitter. Originally conceived as a means of sharing brief, personal updates, Twitter’s role and content has matured from impulsive chatter to substantive, informative bulletins, making it an important resource for information professionals. How can we extend these benefits by using Twitter in the workplace, and maximize its strengths for internal communication? What are the risks and considerations? Libraries and businesses are already harnessing the momentum of Twitter by creating institutional accounts for marketing, customer service, and other external communications. In this column, we’ll look at how organizations can use Twitter to support internal communications by developing a de-facto internal network of individual employee accounts and creating a strategy for Twitter at the office.<br />Twitter’s openness, ease of use, and mainstream adoption have rocketed it far beyond its peers, positioning Twitter as the microblogging leader. This article will focus on Twitter alone, however, it is important to keep in mind that Twitter is one of several microblogging sites available to choose from, including enterprise microblogs specifically designed for the unique needs of business communication such as Yammer (, SocialCast (, and ( When selecting a microblogging option for the workplace, you should explore all options and be sure they can comply with the communication, privacy, and security policies of your institution. <br />Why choose Twitter?<br />Twitter provides a quick, easy, and customizable experience, allowing communications to be exchanged, received, and delivered in real-time, across multiple platforms, determined by the individual preference of the user. It is compatible with multiple interfaces; one can post, read, and respond to tweets through the web, SMS, mobile, Facebook, widgets, gadgets, desktop clients and beyond (see Twitter’s flexibility is its core strength: it minimizes the technical training curve, promotes intuitive use, and allows for easy integration of Twitter into the user’s existing information stream.<br />What does Twitter offer information professionals?<br />In May 2009, I spoke at LITA Camp about how important professional networks and associations are to our abilities to remain current, adapt skills, and provide leadership through participation and awareness. In that talk, I emphasized the centrality of communication, contribution, and collaboration to our work as information professionals, and encouraged audience members to seek opportunities to share ideas, get networked, and get involved. Twitter fosters these opportunities and more; it connects us to the powerful knowledge base of our professional community with swift convenience of mobile technology. <br />By being present and active on Twitter, it's possible to create a customized, interactive, information stream with updates from experts in the field, peers and colleagues across disciplines, leading journals and news agencies, and numerous other relevant authors and publishers. There is an expectation on Twitter that those who post are interested and available to interact with you; therefore, it's an excellent forum for engaging in continued dialogue about important and timely issues. Twitter's utility grows as one's network grows; and one's network grows the more they interact with others. Additionally, Twitter's SMS-enabled correspondence facilitates real-time interactions, and Twitter's new Lists feature offers instant access to a list of peer-endorsed professionals - strengthening one's ability to communicate, contribute, and collaborate with people who share like interests and professional directions.<br />Strategic use of Twitter at the office can enhance productivity, foster professional awareness, promote interaction, and create communications efficiencies in your workplace in the same way. How can we maximize these opportunities within a specific institution or working group? Let’s explore that next.<br />A Model for Twitter at the Office<br />Twitter can be employed as an office tool to expedite communication, build community, promote employee interaction, and expand the reach of the institutional intranet. The first step is to design a strategy for employee communication via Twitter. The strategy should include a statement of purpose, clear and specific policies detailing types of communications that are permitted and/or prohibited, procedures for how and when to Twitter, and a training plan for employees. Most importantly, the strategy must be developed in accordance with institutional communications and security guidelines, and it should be reviewed and approved by the administration before implementation. Additional considerations and recommendations are included in each section of the strategy template below:<br />I. Statement of Purpose<br />Describe the role and value of Twitter as a communication tool within your organization, and how it will enhance and support the mission and values of your institution. <br />II. Policies for Organizational Use of Twitter<br />Consider the guidelines that will govern the use of Twitter within the organization. First, decide whether the Twitter activity should be public or private. If private, all employees must have “locked” Twitter accounts—thus, employees should create a dedicated Twitter account for office use. If public, employees may choose to use their own pre-existing Twitter accounts or create separate accounts. Outline the types of content expected among office Twitter users: should content be only news, updates, events, and announcements related to the institution? Are any and all tweets about work activity welcome? Should employees twitter about daily projects, interact casually, and re-tweet news and events from Twitter users outside the organization? If so, provide guidance about appropriateness and type of content welcome. Also, be clear about when and how employees should respond to each other’s tweets. Make suggestions about when direct, private, messages should be used instead of public @-replies, which can be viewed by any followers. A statement about politeness and courtesy expectations should exist in the policy statement, including a description of content or language that is expressly not welcome or permitted. Lastly, decide whether or not office Twitter activity will be archived. If so, a policy statement about archiving office tweets should be included. Details about how and when to archive Twitter activity should be outlined in the procedures and management sections of the strategy document.<br />III. Procedures for Organizational Use of Twitter<br />In what ways will Twitter enhance existing office communications, and how should staff participate? Procedures for using Twitter should be designed in support of the policies above. For example, if the organization’s Twitter account will be private, and staff are required to create a separate Twitter account from their personal accounts, describe how the second account should be created and used, and include details about programs that can help them manage multiple Twitter accounts (such as TweetDeck, Describe how and when hashtags can be used for internal communications, and provide suggestions about how hashtags can be used for projects, subjects, departments, or events. Procedures should be specific enough to meet the needs of the organization, yet flexible enough to allow for growth as staff become more adept using Twitter for office communication. <br /> IV. Training Plan & Management of Twitter at the Office<br />Determine who the local contact person(s) will be for implementing and moderating Twitter activity. This person should be named the local expert and charged with building and maintaining Twitter expertise, notifying employees (via Twitter) about new staff they should be following and approving as followers, contributing content on a regular basis (either from internal or external communication streams, according to the institutional policy guidelines), and generally monitoring and facilitating office Twitter communications. This person should also be responsible for providing training for staff, writing and distributing related documentation to staff (by posting online and distributing links via Twitter), and following up on any activity observed among office Twitter users that demonstrates a need for additional training. These suggestions are start, but only a start; consider the specific needs of your organization when determining how Twitter communications will be managed and staff training delivered. <br />To Twitter or Not to Twitter (at the Office)<br />Twitter communication is exceptionally dynamic. When fully engaged, Twitter users reap the rewards of an interactive, real-time communication experience. Still, Twitter itself is still new to all of us and may seem experimental or awkward for beginners using it in the workplace. A documented strategy and effective training and management of Twitter at the office can help support and promote the successful integration of Twitter into our suite of everyday business communication tools. <br />____________________________________________________________________________<br />Lisa Carlucci Thomas<br /><br /><br />Discuss Social Eyes: Twitter at the Office on Twitter!<br />Cite author @lisacarlucci or use hashtag #twitteratoffice<br />For general comments & feedback about the Social Eyes column, or to suggest future topics:<br />Contact @lisacarlucci on Twitter or use hashtag #socialeyes<br />The Journal of Web Librarianship is available online at:<br />