23 Research Things – Thing 22

We’ve reached our penultimate post, which is going to be about altmetrics – tracking the reach of your research through non-traditional channels. I’ve chosen to focus on the tools that analyse the reach of Twitter accounts, rather than publications, because although I do have published articles, the bulk of my work involves training, support, and communication, so I feel Twitter is a more useful medium on which to focus.

For today’s exercise I used both Twitter’s own analytics tool, and the external tool Twitter Reach Report. What I found through both did not surprise me much – my personal Twitter account is a textbook example of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. I’m a bit of a Twitter lurker, and when I do tweet, it tends to be short, broadcast-like announcements of blog posts and the like, rather than any active engagement with my followers, the people I follow, or the wider scholarly and librarian community. The only exception is conferences and workshops, when I livetweet furiously and get into lengthy conversations, and I suspect if I’d taken stats shortly after a conference, my analytics would look very different. As it stands, my tweets of the past twenty-eight days do not have much reach, have inspired little engagement, and only occasionally got retweeted or liked. As I say, this doesn’t surprise me, although I know that I take a very different approach to Twitter when using my library’s (rather than my own) Twitter account, replying to, and getting involved with, other tweets and conversations, and generally sparking a much greater level of engagement. I guess these uninspiring analytics figures demonstrate my ambivalence about using social media in a personal/professional hybrid: namely, representing myself alone, but in a professional context. I’m much more comfortable using tools like Twitter when they are solely professional (i.e. my library’s official account), or solely personal (i.e. an account in which I talk about hobbies, my personal life, politics and so on, among a group of followers who are friends from outside my professional sphere). When faced with a confluence of the personal and professional, my response seems to be to refrain from posting at all. And as a result, outside of conference livetweeting, my Twitter analytics are pretty poor.

I’m not sure I necessarily want to change things, however. This 23 Research Things programme has certainly caused me to reflect a lot on my own habits and practices, but in many cases it’s reaffirmed my sense that I’m using resources in a way that makes sense to me, even if it’s not necessarily the way that will make the biggest splash or generate the most recognition. In many ways, I’m content to be a quiet lurker, and let my work speak for me.


About thelibrarianerrant

I'm a senior library assistant in one of the faculty libraries of the University of Cambridge. My posts here are in a personal capacity, and are on any topics relating to library and information services.
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