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Connecting with Public Health Librarians: We’re aTwitter about Social Networking Melissa L. Rethlefsen 1  and Emily Vardel...
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Connecting with Public Health Librarians: We're aTwitter about Social Networking


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Connecting with Public Health Librarians: We're aTwitter about Social Networking

  1. 1. Connecting with Public Health Librarians: We’re aTwitter about Social Networking Melissa L. Rethlefsen 1 and Emily Vardell 2 1 Mayo Clinic Libraries, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; 2 Department of Health Informatics, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL PH/HA members vary widely in their preferred methods of PH/HA communication.  All methods have their audience, from the mailing list to the blog to Facebook to Twitter.  Syncing the official communication between these methods so that all PH/HA members receive the same information, no matter their preferred way of receiving it, will be a future goal. Conclusions though 25% (n=13) of posts pointed to PH/HA blog articles, 19% (n=10) were posted to Twitter from the Facebook page, and 4% (2) contained material taken from the PH/HA mailing list.  By April 2010, 53 people were following PH/HA on Twitter.  No PH/HA tweets were retweeted, though statistics show that the links posted are being utilized.  12 links were followed 138 times over a seven-month span (nearly all links were followed within a week of being posted to Twitter).  The Facebook page was "liked" by 26 individuals by the end of April 2010, and it was visited an average of 40 times per week in same month. 38 individuals completed the survey assessing the use of and attitudes toward the PH/HA blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.  7 respondents used the Facebook page, 8 used the Twitter feed, and 16 read the PH/HA blog.  Only 3 respondents used all methods of PH/HA communication.  Though 14 respondents used neither Twitter nor the blog, amongst the remainder, an equal number of respondents preferred each Results This Twitter account was linked to a new Facebook fan page for the section in October 2009. Both Twitter and Facebook enabled section leaders to communicate up to the minute news to members with very little effort. The effectiveness of these three methods of connecting and communicating with members was evaluated using a brief survey, which was promoted through the PH/HA mailing list, Twitter, and Facebook (both the official page and the unofficial group). Twitter and Facebook page usage and reach were evaluated using Facebook Pages Insights and statistics for shared link use. Methods To evaluate the use and effectiveness of the section's blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter account as a replacement for a traditional newsletter. Objectives In response to the results of a member survey, in June 2008, the section launched a new blog designed to replace the former quarterly portable document format (PDF) newsletter. The blog included similar content to the former newsletter, including reports, announcements, and descriptions of new resources. In a first for an MLA section, in June 2009, a Twitter account was created as a new informational venue for members and others interested in public health librarianship. Since the PH/HA Twitter feed began in June 2009, the PH/HA blog editor has published 54 tweets.  Tweets covered section business (19, 36%), APHA news (6, 11%), Twitter (10, 19%), and other content relevant to PH/HA members (18, 34%).  The majority of tweets were posted directly to the Twitter account without posting via another communication method, of those communication methods; 5 preferred Twitter, and 5 preferred the blog. When asked to rate the usefulness of the Facebook page and Twitter feed, only 1 respondent rated the Facebook page as helpful or very helpful, whereas 4 respondents found the Twitter feed helpful or very helpful.  Comments suggested the need for better promotion of these tools as well as better training on how to use them effectively. Fig. 1. Wordle from survey comments Fig. 2. Content of Twitter Posts by Type (n, %) Fig. 3. Venn diagram showing number of survey respondents using each communication method. 18 respondents used none of the PH/HA social networking tools. May 2007 – Cool Web Things Task Force begins Dec. 2007 – Task Force creates PH/HA Facebook Group Feb. 2008 – PH/HA membership surveyed Mar. 2008 – PH/HA News converted to blog format Jun. 2008 – First blog post May 2009 – Task Force presents about blog at MLA 2009, merges into Web Committee Jun. 2009 – PH/HA creates Twitter account Oct. 2009 – Web Committee creates PH/HA Facebook Page; Blog automatically added to Facebook Notes, connection to Twitter account established Nov. 2009 – Twitter feed added to PH/HA home page Apr. 2010 – Facebook Page has 26 fans, Twitter feed has 53 followers Time Line