Tweeting for Public Figures & Public Servants

I’ve been watching a celeb adopt Twitter as a way to chat with fans. LeVar Burton — known variously as Kunte Kinte (Roots), Geordi (Star Trek The Next Generation), and host of Reading Rainbow — began twittering just after Christmas and quickly built up a huge following. I popped in as follower #8000 a few days ago and he’s over 10,500 now. Not bad for only three weeks online!

"Speak Up" is the new "Shhh.."He seems to be enjoying it, too. It makes sense: It’s an easy, efficient way to share thoughts, appearances, interact, and show that he’s a real person. (Not that there was any doubt.) He may influence others. A recent tweet from him said that “a long conversation today with Brent Spiner [Star Trek’s Data]… began with ‘Tell me about Twitter.'”

It’s great to see public figures trying out social web tools. Musicians (or their agents) have been involved for quite a while. Some athletes have taken spins, too. I’d love to see many more public figures AND public servants (including community leaders and librarians) jumping in. Staff should get involved. Several collaborating staff members, in fact, could share the tweeting duties on an “official” Twitter account. Come on, people! Share the news, the concerns, and the daily routine. Build relationships. Be there. Be available.

4 Responses to Tweeting for Public Figures & Public Servants

  1. I’m a librarian and an ordained disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh helping with his U.S. Teaching Tour this year, I have been twittering for him at – I think it best to be up front about who is doing the talking, but it is in honor of our Teacher.

  2. Alex says:

    Twittering seems to be a good way of getting things out, especially if one doesn’t have the time to do fuller blog posts, or the subject of the thing isn’t really up to a full-length piece. Plus, Twitter’s API is great at being useful anywhere – on mobile devices and the rest. Although, one wonders what the institutional Twitter feed would be like. “XYZ library is open and full of lots of people?”

    …and now I’m thinking about strange things like Twitter reference. Stop us before we suggest that as the next big service.

  3. Steve Campion says:

    I think an institutional Twitter feed can be extremely useful. I’m following several libraries who Twitter now, including @LibraryOfCongress.

    I recently began @PierceCoLibrary on Twitter and in the first week made a wry comment about Groundhog’s Day, mentioned a handful of library events, and suggested several titles — one timed to a movie opening — with links to the catalog.

    Tweets must be short, so reading them need not be burdensome. If longer thoughts are warranted, a link is always possible, but I’d hate to have a library’s Twitter feed devolve into endless press releases (things relevant to you); it should have a nice mix of things relevant to the patrons.

    Blend informality, humor, and usefulness. Show signs that you live in the same neighborhood and culture. Inform, entertain, and be relevant. You want your patrons to want to follow you after all!

  4. Alex says:

    Definitely on the want-followers bit. Hopefully, something like this will be a bit more successful than some experiments. Makes me wonder what magic combination of elements and people generates a successful social-web interaction between users and their libraries.

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