The right balance of personality and information

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker has a nice, brief post today about the impersonality of Twitter and the nice fit that makes for using it as a teaching tool.

This has been something I’ve been thinking about since I started using social media for my work a few years ago. Getting into the social for “business” purposes is tricky, and the potential to become creepy, unwanted intruder is high. This is especially true in FB, where it can feel like you’re wandering univited into a party or someone’s bedroom.

I like Jones’ view that Twitter seems ultra-personal – and has been used in a confessional mode by more than one user (hello @CourtneyLove), but its brevity and simplicity allows for a friendly but professional distance. There are no personal pictures or expectations of a closed “friends only” setting – just the feeds and 140 characters at a time. That isn’t to say libraries shouldn’t be on FB and other social spaces, but navigating those areas is much trickier, especially with undergrads.

My library still has no social media presence (slap my wrist…I’m working on it!) but when I used Twitter (and FB status) to push information in the past, I tried to maintain a friendly-yet-impersonal tone, the same one I’d use for in-person encounters with the students who asked for help. I’m wondering how or if that barrier can be slightly pushed to really maximize student engagement.

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