Thing 1 : Twitter

What is Twitter? What’s the difference between using @, # and D? We are pleased to have Aaron (SG) from NUS Libraries to share his insights with us. Make sure you click all tabs (Discover, Explore, and Activities) to get to the end of the lesson.


Like many, when I first started using Twitter in 2009, I didn’t see the point of it.

I hated the 140 characters limit of each tweet. It just seemed like a poorer version of Facebook and few people I knew were on Twitter.

But today, I would say without Twitter, I would be totally lost. It serves as my compass, map, and radar. It keeps me updated on the latest news and clues me in on what some of the smartest people in the profession worldwide are reading, thinking and saying. It has become for me the ultimate source of professional development–like a think tank and a microphone. Have something you don’t quite understand? Need a second option? Trying asking on Twitter. It’s quite amazing how you can get connected just to the right person when helpful people help broadcast your question by retweeting.


What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social network similar to Facebook except you are limited to 140 characters. A major difference between Twitter and Facebook is that, while in general relationships in Facebook are usually meant to be symmetrical (friends on Facebook can see each others’ update), in Twitter, this is not always the case.

If you want to see the updates made on Twitter by an account, say Justin Bieber’s account (which happens to be @justinbieber), you are supposed to follow him or to put it another way you are to be a follower of his.

The interesting thing about Twitter is that, there is no requirement for someone you follow to follow you back. So in the case of Justin Bieber’s Twitter account, he is followed by 48 million Twitter accounts (so all 48 million will see updates he posts), but he himself follows far fewer accounts.

So don’t be disappointed or offended if some celebrity or even normal person you follow on Twitter doesn’t follow you back.

The whole beauty of Twitter is you try to ‘curate’ interesting people to follow, finding people who tend to produce interesting updates, be it thoughts or sharing of articles. So for example you might following noted library automation expert Marshall Breeding (@mbreeding) for library tech news or try following Barbara Fister (@bfister) for issues like information literacy and broader intellectual freedom issues as they pertain to library and academia.


Some people I am following on Twitter

Most Twitter accounts are public and the updates can be seen by anyone on the web. Also note that with a public Twitter account, other users can follow you automatically without your explicit approval, so don’t tweet anything you don’t want your loved ones or employer to see. 🙂

Private accounts are possible, where your updates cannot be seen except by those you allow to follow you. But I think this defeats the purpose of Twitter.

Some other terminology you need:

What is a Tweet?

How do I use @ ?

@ – Use this to direct a tweet to a specific user-account.

For example, if you tweet


The Twitter account @aarontay (me!) will get a notification a tweet was directed at me. This is also known as a Twitter mention. Do note, that anyone can send a tweet to you this way, even accounts not following you.

You may notice I added #23mthingsPhSG to the tweet, that’s a hash tag which I will explain later.

What is DM?

DM – This stands for direct message. Tweets sent with @username are still public and anyone can see them (though the user mentioned will get a notification). If you want a message that can be seen only by a specific person, use DM.

For example, if you tweet:

D aarontay Hi this is a private message

Only the Twitter user @aarontay will see the message. The catch here is, you can send DMs only to your followers.

What are hash tags and how are they used?

As a librarian or library staff, you must be familiar with the idea and purpose of subject headings or tags. Hash tags are similar, they can be used to organize tweets of the same topic together. If you attend conferences, a conference hashtag will be advertised to be used. So, if a person wanted to collate all the tweets from that conference, you could search for that hashtag.

We will be using the hash tag #23mthingsPhSG for our Twitter chat on 18th January, 10:30am.

What other terms are used on Twitter?

Definitely check out the definition of a Retweet as well as the Twitter glossary here.


Who should I start following on Twitter?

When you create an account on Twitter, you may be given suggestions on who to follow. But if you still need ideas on who to follow you can start up with the people on this Twitter listLibrary Singapore Peeps a list of librarians in Singapore who are active on Twitter maintained by myself. Here’s another list of Philippines Libraries and Librarians collated by Karryl.

Or for a more global list just google for lists of ‘best’ librarians to follow on Twitter (there are many such lists).

You can also look for library vendors and organizations to follow. For example, libraries that have Twitter accounts include @Rizal_library, @PublicLibrarySG , @NUSlibraries, @NTUlibraries, @LORA_DLSULib, etc. You can also get the latest news from Library publishers, vendors such as @Ebsco, @Jstor , @springshare etc. Have a vendor in mind? Just Google for their Twitter account.

Feel free to experiment and unfollow accounts that you find are posting tweets that turn out to be not interesting to you.

What should I tweet? How should I increase the number of followers I have?

Initially, you probably won’t have many followers. That’s okay. Twitter works fine, even if you have few followers as long as you get value out of the stream of updates you get. You will find many tweets will be of links to articles or videos that might be of great interest to you.

If you find any of the content tweeted interesting, you can retweet it to pass it on to your followers who might not see that tweet because they follow different accounts.

Twitter is a tool used for conversation, so as you gain followers, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or add comments to articles you read.

If you constantly post interesting and unique content or retweet useful information, you will find your followers increasing as people come to rely on you as a source of interesting and valuable news.

Have a professional blog post? Tweet it! See some new development or breaking news, that you don’t see anyone else tweeting? Tweet it! See someone tweeting a question you can answer? Answer it! See a question you can’t answer? Retweet the question to amplify the tweet!

What are some interesting Twitter-related projects by libraries?

These are only some ideas of course, you can find many more.


    1. Create a personal account on Twitter.
    2. Upload a profile picture for your Twitter account.
    3. Besides using Twitter on a web browser, you can try logging on using a Twitter client such as Tweetdeck on your desktop. You can also try tweeting from your smartphone or tablet using a Twitter client. The official Twitter client for most major mobile operating systems are good to start off with.
    4. Start following people of interest, perhaps from lists of librarians in SG or PH, or from a global list.
    5. Join us for our Twitter chat on 18th January 2014, Saturday, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.
    6. Tweet your answers to the following
      • Introduce yourself and tell us how you will describe yourself using a book title.
      • Do you use Twitter for work or professional development? How? If not, why not?
      • Do you separate your social media identity for work and personal? Why?
    7. Important : Remember to tag all your tweets with the hashtag #23MThingsPHSG so that we can find each other. Periodically, do a search on Twitter for the hashtag #23MThingsPHSG to see what other people in the Twitter chat are saying and considering responding or replying to them.



I believe this covers the basics of using Twitter, even though there is still more you can learn about it. My advice is to give Twitter a go by using it daily for a month or two, as it takes some time to get into it.

Good luck!


Remix from the original 23 Mobile things :
23 Mobile Things – Thing 1
ANZ 23 Mobile things – Thing 1

Thing 1’s Guest Blogger:

Aaron Tay Aaron Tay is a Senior Librarian at the National University of Singapore Libraries. He serves as e-services facilitator, overseeing various library functions, including chat reference, social media, mobile and discovery services. He maintains a blog on librarianship at and is an active user of Twitter (@aarontay)

6 thoughts on “Thing 1 : Twitter

  1. This is a very good lesson not only to all librarians but also to those who are new into Twitter. I just only started to use twitter last year. I still have lots of things to learn.

    Cheers for this project! 🙂

    1. Totally agreed! This is a great place to get to know other librarians and learn and share with one another!! I am excited to be part of the community.

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