Associations Using Twitter: CILIP’s “Epic FAIL” & Playing Nice

Do not miss this intriguing discussion that really speaks to the sea change were in.

Star here, with this post from Bob McKee, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP): (emphasis in bold mine)

There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites.

The simple answer, of course, is no. In terms of “official” activity, cyber life is just like real like – if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it’s official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else’s space, it isn’t.

But there’s a deeper question to address. As everybody networks with everybody else in an increasingly informal and always-on way, how do organisations maintain a culture of inclusion and, at the same time, retain a methodical approach to work planning, managing, and decision-making? This is a critical issue for organisations like professional bodies or indeed academic institutions – any organisation where a rational approach to management is potentially conflicted by the emotional affiliation of members to their peer group: academics to their field of study rather than to their university; LIS specialists to their field of specialism rather than to their professional institute.

Then, head to Phil Bradley’s blog:—epic-fail.html

… I like Bob – he’s a nice chap and very personable, but I can’t articulate enough how wrong he is on this issue, though I’ll try. He says ‘There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites. Sorry Bob, but we were discussing this on Twitter two weeks ago. The boat has long since left on this one and we’ve moved onto other things related to CILIP now. This in itself is worrying – if you’d actually looked at Twitter you would have known this, so clearly you’re being briefed and are blogging about it without any real understanding. That’s fair enough in a way, because no-one can be on top of everything, though if it’s important enough for you to blog, surely it’s important enough to research a little yourself.

The more important issue isn’t that, it’s the delay in a response. Two weeks is not only unacceptable, it’s insane. We don’t live in a world where people have the leisure to take their time crafting a response; we did back in the day when websites were the way to get a message out, but then we moved into a response time of hours with blogs, and now we’re at minutes with Twitter. As a rule of thumb, I’m finding that a mention of an organization or company on Twitter is getting me a response within a couple of hours now. And these are companies, both large and small, who feel that it’s important to respond to comments from individuals, both good and bad. Less than this is sending out a very poor message indeed. Now, I know that the answer here is going to be referred to lack of staff, limited facilities and so on, and that’s simply a cop out. An effective use of resources, monitoring blogs etc can be automated, take very little effort to set up or use and information can then be disseminated through the organization quickly. In my courses I teach librarians how to do this, and in most cases it’s just pointing them towards the right tools. If they can do it on a personal level, surely we can expect the professional body to do the same thing?

Phil’s points are golden – especially about monitoring the conversation and the automated options that make it doable. Frankly, there will is no “sanctioned space” any more for organizations or associations. If you believe that – there’s a problem. the conversation will go on long after everyone has decided to ignore your sacred, sanctioned space. That’s what the “Hyperlinked Library” is all about – transparency, listening, responding.

Into the mix come Jenny Levine, and her take on ALA’s use of Twitter:

And wow did Twitter play a big part. Kenley Neufeld sums it up pretty well, and even notes how fun the experience was. If you had asked me, I wouldn’t have predicted that four councilors would tweet from the floor during council sessions, thereby providing an effective, real-time transcript of what was happening. Even beyond that, though, I got to participate in meetings I wasn’t physically at (from within other meetings), as did people who weren’t even in Denver. And good things came from all of it (including a helpful guide for what *not* to do).

So when we got back, I decided to do a presentation at the February ITTS Update meeting about Twitter on ALA. Not ALA on Twitter, but Twitter’s effect on the Association and the story of Midwinter that Twitter produced. Luckily, many of the people who tweet about us have a sense of humor, so there were some good laughs in the screenshots, especially about our content management system (Collage). So thank you to everyone who publicly tweeted about us in January, especially at Midwinter, because you helped me illustrate a moment in time when something changed forALA. I definitely think communication and conferences will never be the same for our organization, and I’m fascinated to see where this all leads.


As I was getting ready to hit the “publish” button, I saw Phil Bradley’s post about CILIP and Twitter (or lack thereof). It made me realize how far ALA has come, and how lucky I am to work in an environment where I’m allowed to experiment in these spaces and help integrate them into the Association. I live in a really special place right now, both professionally and personally, and I don’t take that for granted.

And Jenny linked to Peter Bromberg’s post about Twitter etiquette. Peter is one of my favorite bloggers. I appreciate his take:

  1. Twittering the real-time decisions of your committee: GOOD  
  2. Twittering snide, insulting, remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak: NOT GOOD  
  3. Twittering snide, insulting remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak and marking it with #ala09 hash tag to ensure that the widest possible audience sees your comment: REALLY VERY NOT GOOD


We actually talked about this in class last night. With folks so connected and the opportunity to contribute to back channel chatter so easy these days, we should remind ourselves of the this simple rule: Play Nice. I’ve been disappointed of late seeing some of the snarky chatter and lack of respect for speakers and conference attendees at some events. Folks pay money for conferences and should have a civil, engaging experience free of in-jokes and snark. Constructive criticism is good if it contributes. As Peter points out, snark is NOT GOOD.

So..this rambling post leads to these points for all:

  • Use Twitter and other tools in your library or organization in ways that makes sense and serve the mission/vision of what you are doing: to save time, to smooth a process, to communicate, to respond.
  • Don’t dismiss the power of conversations happening OUTSIDE your space. They are probably just as important if not more.
  • Play nice via the social tools. Respect people’s viewpoints and engage with them. Snark is cheap. Snark is easy.  Put yourself in the shoes of someone just discovering the Biblio-social-network-sphere or attending a conference for the first time on hard-earned money. What experience should they take away?