Saturday, May 9, 2009

Library twitter league - official library twitter accounts compared

Recently, I was pondering about the need to set targets or KPI (key performance indicators) for Libraries carrying out Social media activities. Take Libraries with Twitter accounts for example, what would be a suitable target?

The first thing that comes to mind is number of followers, which would be a measure of how many people you are reaching, but what would be a creditable target? One very inaccurate and rough way would be to look at the followers that other libraries have achieved (while taking into account relevant differences such as size of population served etc).

Rather than creating a static list I used the TwitterLeague service , and populated it with entries from here and here.

I had a suspicion that the lists above were biased towards successful, established accounts, as such I further supplemented them by adding additional accounts. I searched for the word Library using Twitter's find people service and added the accounts I found there. The results are available here . I have also embedded the results at the very bottom of this post.

You can also download a xml version of the list, and view it in Excel etc.

A rough calculation (this will change as I add more twitter accounts) shows that the median number of followers is 147, while the average number of followers is 260.

Not surprisingly, Library of Congress is way ahead in the follower account, more than 4 times of the next highest library account.

Of the top 20 library accounts, Public and National libraries dominate compared to Academic libraries with only the 3 including second placed Open University Library from the UK (a distance learning university), Yale Library accounts (6th and 7h place) and College of DuPAGE library (8th place) breaking the top 20.

It will probably be interesting to revisit the statistics say 6 months later to see if there are any major changes.

Of course, follower counts alone probably don't tell everything. Some accounts are just starting out, others follow a large number of accounts, which typically follow back etc. Other Twitter analytic services such as Twitter Grader , Twinfluence , Twitterholic, Twitalyzer, Tweetstats provide more sophisticated measures of influence, by taking into account follower/following ratios, % of retwits etc. The JCPR Twitter index is probably the most advanced metric available used to measure online influence.

Hopefully, TwitterLeague will add more statistics, please help vote for additional features here.

Given that libraries are using twitter for different purposes, I can see possible value in studying statistics such as rate of updates, signal to noise ratio (percentage of twits with links or hash tags) of accounts, Name pointing (percentage of times @ is sent to account) and more. For example, a twitter acccount used mainly for pushing service announcements would probably have a different tweeting profile compared to one that was used for reference service.

I also created a new Twitter account leaguelibrary and populated it with the twitter accounts from the library league twitter list (using Twitterator to quickly add multiple accounts).

I was hoping to find a way to export all the twits from this account and then carry out text analysis, using Many eyes's to create Word Trees, Wordle , Tag Cloud and Phrase Net.

Unfortunately while I found many ways to export my own public timeline of tweets, there doesn't seem to be a way to export my tweets PLUS tweets of accounts I'm following? Does anyone know a way to do this? I did manage to get a RSS feed of what I wanted though, and I might use this for analysis.

For now, I use My Twitterflock to generate a word cloud from the bios of the library accounts I'm following.




As well as a word cloud of what they are posting about





Updated to state that there are 3 Academic libraries (4 accounts) in top 20, plus plans to revisit the statistics 6 months later.
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