Using social media to build your brand – what we can glean from an academic’s perspective

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a session by Massey University’s Dr Cat Pause on using social media to promote your research.  I follow Cat on several social media platforms, and as someone who talks to academics about social media, I was interested to see what a real live academic  had to say to her peers on the subject. Is my advice on the right track?  I’ve now tweaked my report on her session to give some insights into how practising librarians and those involved in library research may use social media to build their personal brand.

Studying librarianship or interested in evidence based practice? Sign up to This is a bit like LinkedIn but specifically designed for the academic community.  Here you can set yourself up with a profile, add your research papers, and search for other researchers. will also alert you if anyone has come to your page on their search via a Google search. (She did also acknowledge other sites such as Researchgate but didn’t go into those in any detail, so it seems like is her choice here).

Next up was blogging. If you want to blog, Cat made the point that it is important to think about what purpose your blog will serve, and how often you plan to update it. Cat publishes something on the 5th of every month – so she makes a commitment to just blog once a month. She doesn’t subscribe to the view that if you aren’t blogging everyday you are doing it wrong.

Are you engaged in library research? Cat does most of her writing on social media first and this helps her develop her thoughts for her academic output. She does recommend researchers  “keep the good stuff” for their journal articles.

Tumblr was next. I’ve dabbled in this site myself but it doesn’t consistently hold my interest. Cat describes it as a “multimedia twitter” and apparently it is where the cool kids hang out 😉 If you have access to Library Life (is that still restricted to members only?) then check out Donna Robertson’s feature on Tumblr in the 13th August issue. I loved the quote that Tumblr is the “best baby that Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they had” – so great for those who want to do more than tweet, but who don’t want to commit to producing lengthy blog posts. Check out for an example of Tumblr being used by an academic. I know one New Zealand Library uses Tumblr, but are any librarians using it for their library related stuff?

And then of course there is Twitter. Cat talked about how it allows you to participate in conferences that you aren’t at – and plenty of library folk do just that as well. If you are presenting at a conference, you can use set up and synch tweets to go out as you do your presentation. I have to say this is a god send if you are at a conference – being able to retweet the speaker’s tweets is an incredibly handy shortcut. Cat says she probably uses Twitter more for communicating with other academics she doesn’t know, rather than using email – something about it being less threatening I think. She did say it was highly effective for doing something that academics don’t talk about much – and that is “building your brand”. I don’t think this is a thing librarians talk about much either! In the academic world, Inger Mewburn , who is the  @thesiswhispherer  on Twitter is one of the show stopper examples of someone who has done built a personal brand.

There was a brief mention of Facebook – and how you can set up a profile page rather than a personal page to allow people to like you. Check out Linda Bacon’s Facebook page an example in an academic setting.

Cat also has a Youtube channel where she can showcase her media appearances.

Cat’s final advice was that it is important to link your social media sites – so people can find you on different platforms. If you are interested in developing a personal brand on social media, think about whether you should focus on one area – for instance she focuses her on fat issues, rather than her other interests. This avoids diluting your brand.

Is personal brand building important to you as a Librarian? I’d be interested in your comments!

Ned Potter’s new library marketing blog!

Ned Potter has a fabulous new marketing blog – The Library Marketing Toolkit. It is designed to be a website to support Ned’s upcoming book of the same name, as well as being a standalone resource for all things to do with library marketing. You can check out more about the blog here – and there is a link on that page to download a free chapter of Ned’s upcoming book 🙂

Ned’s book includes a small case study from yours truly – my involvement was very much a tribute to the power of networking on Twitter! Basically Ned called for volunteers to write case studies for the book, and eventually contacted me about writing one on email marketing. I’m absolutely thrilled he has included a link to this blog on his new website!


Tips for using Facebook insights

As a Facebook page administrator I must confess I still haven’t got my head around what the Facebook insights feature has to offer. I see one of my favourite social media bloggers (and fellow kiwi) Simone McCallum has written this post on exactly that subject.

If you are looking for interesting people to follow on Twitter I’d recommend Simone – her Twitter name is @simonemccallum

Twitter as a conversation – another great presentation by Ned Potter

Yet again Ned Potter is right on the money with this presentation. It’s just like a real life network really – it’s all about finding the right people and sharing stuff. And just like real life that can actually take a little while, but I think once you get started and find those folk on Twitter, then you can quickly build a really useful network. Anyway enough from me, check out this presentation if you haven’t already!

Twitter (yes again) – how Christchurch City Libraries are getting it right

A link to a recent article on the Stuff website was posted to the NZ-libs discussion list in what I felt was a bit of a “cautionary tale” type warning. The post prompted an interesting response from the team at Christchurch City Libraries. Marion Ogier, Content Manager,  Digital Library Web Team, replied with a description of how they trialled Twitter, got it approved and went on to use it as part of their social media strategy. I thought it was such a good outline of what good practice can look like I asked permission to reproduce it here:

Christchurch City Libraries is using Twitter and we haven’t found any pitfalls yet. The process went – play, learn, trial, learn, corporate approval. Team members played with Twitter as private individuals and explored its potential. A plan was then drawn up to describe how we could use Twitter to communicate with the community about the library. Library management and then the wider council management approved a three month trial. After the initial trial, we recorded what had been happening and made a case for continuing permanently. Approval was granted and its been full steam ahead. All six members of the web team contribute tweets on a daily basis, and we use our initials and faces so people know who said what. Tweeting happens seven days a week. We schedule tweets across a month or a week if we promoting a particular resource e.g heritage photos with a summer theme, interesting clubs in our Community Information site and so on. We promote new content and resources and point  to things people may not realise we have. A great example recently was our guide to Christchurch street and place names which ended up being referenced on TV 1’s breakfast show thanks to some Twitter conversation. We also respond to people’s comments and queries, join in conversations, and are proactive in following Christchurch people. The results have been very positive and we have had great feedback.

 Some of that positive feedback also came via the NZ-Libs list. Clearly their policy of going the extra mile and promoting community groups via Twitter is winning them fans and supporters. The response below is again reproduced with permission of the author, Richard Mahoney:

To add to the feedback … I’m a co-founder of Hounds 4 Homes, a  charity rehoming retired racing greyhounds. Last week I was telephoned and emailed by one of the Christchurch Library Web Team. It was time  for the annual check and update of our details in the CINCH (Community INformation CHristchurch) database. This year, though, was slightly different. Having adjusted our details the web team was planning  — with our permission — to schedule a tweet, sending out into the aether a few details about what we are up to and giving a link to our site. Naturally I was pleased that the Library was going to such trouble and making such a constructive use of web resources. But they did more than this. They were so well organised that I even had the chance to review the copy of the tweet. If ever anyone tries to convince local rate payers that they are not getting value for money or that decent, informed library staff are somehow superfluous … 😉

Well done Christchurch City Libraries!

Trial by Twitter

Seems to me most people still think of Twitter as a phenomenal waste of time, inhabited either by attention crazed celebs or nobodies updating the twitterverse on the latest trivia in their lives. And of course there are plenty of those out there on Twitter (I indulge in the latter from time to time, especially on my personal Twitter account). Even my own attempts to articulate the value that you can get from Twitter sound unconvincing (although there may be other issues that hamper me there).

But still I think I have to keep plugging away with the message that even if you don’t engage with Twitter, you have to understand how people are using it. So to add to the scholarly communication mix, here is an article that describes how academic papers are being critiqued on Twitter:

Peer review: Trial by Twitter

Blogs and tweets are ripping papers apart within days of publication, leaving researchers unsure how to react

Business using social media to connect with customers

Another article on businesses using social media  was published in The Dominion Post today (you should be able to click on the image below to read the whole thing in the Library Press Display viewer). Some interesting bits: 

  • Telecom’s Twitter account has been live for 2 years and now has more than 6000 followers – “it is not a controlled marketing stream” but features tweets from a team of technology enthusiasts. It has however been used to deal with customer queries during the XT outages
  • Telecom: “From a business point of view, there’s a brand benefit, better communication with customers”.
  • Pro-Twitter Telecom staffers did face cynicism from those in the company who “didn’t get it” – but they have had an “oops, sorry” response when the benefits of Twitter as a way to connect with customers became obvious
  • Air New Zealand sees social media as a “channel to gain valuable customer feedback and as a channel to share brand messages”
  • Air NZ have dedicated staff working on their social media accounts including @flyairnz and @airpointsfairy
  • Air NZ see the biggest benefit of social media as the speed of customer feedback. It will be a massive growth area in the next 2 years for them “especially in the way we do customer surveys and gather insights”

It appears that Air NZ at least isn’t nervous about making quick decisions about utilising social media and getting on with it – the @airpointsfairy account was “set up after an idea from the internal team that went live the same day”. Quick work! 


The Dominion Post
16 Apr 2010

Winning hearts and minds …

… or how a “big green budgie of love” has been a bit of a hit on youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

This post has nothing to do with libraries, but everything to do with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation capitalising on the interest generated by a Youtube clip, gaining followers on sites such as Facebook and Twitter and turning one kakapo into an online phenomenon. (With an increase in interest in the conservation of the whole species – which is no bad thing!)

Read all about it at

And the video that started it all: