Every year, the new trainees take over this blog from the previous cohort. Many of us have used the blog to research the Traineeship, the Bodleian Libraries, and the college libraries whilst applying and before our interviews. However, a lot of the Trainees first heard about library opportunities through Twitter. Following a social media training session in late October, we realised we were in a key position to expand our reach and engage with a wider audience by setting up a Trainee Twitter account. This post tells the story of how we went about planning, pitching and launching a brand new Oxford Libraries Trainees Twitter account @OxLibTrainees.
Our motivation: a Twitter account would have the advantage of being more inclusive for the trainees to make short-format posts, it would be more responsive to upcoming events, and would allow us to introduce the traineeship to a wider audience who may not necessarily come across the blog.
Pitching the Account
Two of us pitched our idea to Emma Sullivan, the Staff Development Librarian. She was positive about it, but we needed to have the approval of the Bodleian Social Media Team. The Bodleian Social Media Team needed to sign off on the decisions for a number of reasons, which included confirming our commitment to actively running the account.
There are 100+ existing social media accounts representing the Bodleian Libraries – many more than an institution of its size usually should have. Many of these are neglected or abandoned. To keep the Bodleian’s external presence professional, valuable and easy to navigate for external audiences, it was important that we could answer:
- was there a genuine need for the account?
- does it reach a specific audience?
- can we build this audience from scratch?
- do we have the resources to consistently post and keep followers engaged?
- do we have a strong measure for success?
This all seemed a bit daunting, and we had a very detailed proposal form to complete. However, this proved beneficial as it made us fully consider the account’s purpose, how prepared we had to be to maintain it, and allowed us to fully comprehend the Bodleian’s strategic aims. Thankfully, we gained approval to begin, with the caveat that the account will be reviewed after six months (to ensure it was meeting the agreed-upon goals).
Twitter Team Assemble!
With this initial go ahead, our next task was to create a Trainee Twitter Team. We put out feelers to the rest of the trainees and — luckily — other trainees were interested! With so much to discuss and so many decisions to make, we realised that a weekly teams meeting would be required to get the account running. We decided on a Monday morning slot and got to work.
Deciding on our aims
We knew that our target audience would be potential trainees and young people interested in, or considering, librarianship and archives. From here, we focussed on what would make our account unique, and came up with 3 key aims:
‘Opening doors’ — through placing an emphasis on sharing knowledge, we hope to unlock information for potential library trainees and other interested individuals. We recognise that libraries are meant to be the tool for which we achieve wider engagement with society, which we believe a Twitter account will ensure, as it allows for discussion and is more accessible for our target audience. We hope the stress on openness will drive up engagement, create an encouraging and supportive environment online and make librarianship more approachable as a career.
- Reaching a unique audience — As the trainees work at a variety of Bodleian and college libraries, the Twitter account would allow us to bridge the gap between different Oxford libraries and allow external interested parties an insight into the internal workings of an academic library, particularly at an entry-level position. This stress on beginner roles within the library sector is something unique to our account, which would allow us to reach our target audience and fill a specific need as an account.
- Promoting diversity in librarianship — A huge aim for our Twitter account is to promote diversity within librarianship through making library collections, traineeship knowledge and our experiences “more readily visible”. To encourage diversity and “attract new and underrepresented audiences”, we believe you need to diversify access to information, which can be done by expanding our web presence and creating a platform that is more discoverable and approachable to potential applicants and interested parties. As a bonus, being able to advertise the trainee posts on Twitter will increase our reach and potentially attract a more diverse range of candidates – something we consider extremely important.
Deciding on our name, handle, and bio
After a long discussion, supported by the use of a shared document to develop our ideas, we settled on the name, handle, and bio for the new account.
We wanted our name, handle, and bio to reflect our aims, and make our account’s purpose clear to users. The name Oxford Libraries Trainees was chosen because it works across the Bodleian Libraries but is also inclusive of the college libraries (who are not part of the Bodleian Libraries) and leaves scope to include Library Apprentices and potentially the Digital Archives Trainees too.
For the bio, we wanted to include the ‘opening doors’ phrase, as it emphasised our aims of supporting outreach, diversifying audiences, and breaking down barriers.
Deciding on graphics and branding
For the branding, it was important to have a logo that reflected our aims and what our account will offer, whilst also following the Bodleian Libraries’ branding and style. We were drawn to the visceral imagery of ‘opening doors’ as a way to emphasise our goals, and it seemed perfect to use an image of the Bodleian Library’s Great Gate to remain on the theme. We opted for a line drawing, similar to the Bodleian Libraries image, to promote unity. The font was influenced by the Bodleian style guide, though we were keen to stick to modern fonts for inclusivity purposes. After making the first version, we sent it across to the Bodleian design team who helped to refine the design and approved the final format.
They also helped us to create a ‘header’ for the Twitter page. Here, we felt it was important to explicitly state our core purpose: ‘opening doors for a new generation of librarians’.
Deciding on content and #hashtags
With our aims and general ‘look’ established, we next needed to decide what content we would be posting. Like our branding, we wanted our content to be unique and provide insight into early career librarianship. With this, we outlined key types of tweets that we wanted to produce (often with corresponding hashtags):
- #LibraryOpportunities: highlighting job opportunities and vacancies which are suitable for those interested in early-career librarianship
- #LibraryFinds: interesting things that pop up across individual libraries. The trainee cohort is unique in that it spans a range of Bodleian and College Libraries. Having a shared online platform means we can highlight these different quirks across each of our home libraries.
- #MyDayInLibraries: Mini ‘A Day In the Life’ content, or an update on interesting things that have happened to us during our day at work, that go beyond a unique find.
- #LibraryJargonBusting: explaining library terminology. Entering a new career can be intimidating, especially when it feels like everyone is speaking in a secret language you have not yet learned. We wanted to create a regular series which breaks down these terms and makes library language more accessible.
- Libraries as inclusive spaces: aiming to highlight areas of our libraries – and librarianship in general – which celebrate diversity. We felt that ‘opening doors’ includes giving space to more marginalised voices, and we hope to work on this through our Twitter content.
- Training session updates: giving insight into our weekly sessions as a cohort. A unique part of being a trainee is – you guessed it – the training itself! We have been lucky enough to experience a wide variety of training sessions, from ‘An Introduction to Early Printing’, to visiting the Weston Library, to exploring the Bodleian’s Offsite Storage Facility. Library career paths can be incredibly varied and we wanted to showcase this!
- Blog links: sharing our blog content more widely. We may be a little biased, but our blog holds a lot of valuable content about library life in Oxford. However, the internet is a big place and, if you do not know how to find it, our blog can be a little tricky to find. We noticed our blog’s views accelerated when the Bodleian Libraries Twitter began sharing links, and we wanted to take this further.
- Photos: images of our different libraries. Oxford is certainly not without beautiful reading rooms and library buildings, and we are fortunate enough to be placed across them with opportunities for brilliant snaps.
The inclusion of hashtags was important to us for two principal reasons:
- It organises our regular and key tweets as a series (e.g., #LibraryJargonBusting)
- It makes important tweets more findable. For example, #LibraryOpportunities can be useful for those not familiar with our account to find library jobs.
Once we had agreed on some ideas for content, we then discussed a realistic and maintainable number of tweets that we could consistently put out (bearing in mind that all of us are busy with full-time jobs). We decided to aim for two or three original tweets a week, as well as sharing blog posts and career opportunities as and when they appear.
Deciding on an editorial approach
With a clear idea of the type of content we would like to produce, the next decision meant answering the following two questions: how should our content be communicated? Who is responsible for editing and publishing tweets?
Here, we agreed on some editorial policies:
- Tweets must be anonymised — as we will be posting to the public about our places of work, it is important to protect trainees’ identities. So, no use of names, personal information or personal photos.
- ‘We’ should be used where possible — this was decided to create a cohesive voice, though it is flexible to allow for content about individual libraries (done through tagging referenced libraries).
- Tweets must be accessible — it is important for us that the account can be useful for everyone. We will do this with alt text, capitalised hashtags, measured use of emojis, etc. This means that our content will be readable on different devices, or with adaptive software
In order to ensure a consistency of approach, we decided to create the following documents:
- A content guide – this would help to maintain the required tone and content type, as we would be getting ideas and proposals submitted from across the trainee cohort.
- A rotating schedule for Lead Editor – this would spread the workload between the Twitter team, to allow for a consistent tone each week and to organise the workload around our jobs.
Deciding on measurable metrics and realistic engagement levels
As part of the feedback from our initial proposal, we were advised to think about how we would measure our success. It is important that the account is active and demonstrates that it is fulfilling the specific need we had discussed. We decided to measure our success through targets for follower numbers and the overall engagement rate.
Based on our research of similar accounts, we decided that an expected target would be to reach 100 followers for the first few months. We felt confident in making this target, as we had planned a schedule filled with original content, started to contact relevant individuals we had met through training sessions and within our own libraries to promote our account, and devised a plan to follow library-themed accounts for wider sector engagement. The list of accounts we had created to follow within the first week included accounts within the Bodleian Libraries, the college Libraries, wider library organisations (including other Higher Education libraries), and librarianship-centric accounts (like CILIP). This would boost our numbers initially, to give us a good platform to launch content, before we could start to grow followers organically.
In terms of engagement, we would use internal metric measurements to aim for a standard rate of 3%, which we would consult regularly to ensure that the content we produced was relevant to our aims and shaped to aid discussion.
Deciding to review the account
We decided that we would do reviews after 1 month, 3 months and 6 months (which would, sadly, be at the end of our traineeship).
1 month: launch period
- We would use this time to grow and develop a base following, establish a steady content plan, and settle into the management of the account.
3 months: the mid-way point
- A review after 3 months will allow us to judge organic growth and make tweaks to ensure we were achieving our aims and maintaining a consistently good level of engagement.
6 months: the final review
- After 6 months, we would collate important data to see if we had reached our targets and met our aims, and so the account can be passed to the next trainee cohort, so they could make informed decisions in the next academic year.
Presenting Our Plans to the Bodleian Social Media Team
Having discussed, planned, and designed the future Twitter account, it was now time to present our plans to Rob on the Bodleian Social Media Team. We needed to demonstrate our commitment to the project and a comprehensive plan for the account. We created a detailed presentation based on the information discussed previously, taking turns to present on different areas of interest. This was followed by a brief Q&A session, where certain points were examined in more detail. Thankfully, Emma and Rob were impressed with our presentation and gave us the go-ahead for launch! Woo-hoo!
The Launch! Follow us @OxlibTrainees!
We know that our growth in followers and engagement will be boosted when the Bodleian Graduate Library Trainee Programme applications are open (from November to January), as that is when people will be actively seeking information. However some of the college trainee places are advertised later, and interviews were taking place in March and April, so we thought that the sooner we launched, the better. In addition, at the end of Hillary term, the trainee sessions would end for the vacation, making original content harder to source.
We launched the account on 1 March 2022. We started with a ‘soft opening’ to start building our followers before the content launch on the following Monday.
You can see our launch post, announcing who we are and what we will offer to our followers. This was posted simultaneously with an announcement on the Trainee blog to push blog viewers to follow the Twitter account.
As we started following other accounts and we sent off our emails to our contact list, our followers grew. A bonus announcement from Richard Ovenden in the Bodleian newsletter meant that it was not long before we had smashed our goal of 100 followers!
We re-evaluated our goals in our 1-month review, and continue to make small changes to ensure that we are on track to meet our aims and achieve consistent engagement. We think it is going really well so far!
The Future of the Account
In conclusion, we hope to pass on a successful and exciting account to the new trainees next academic year. We have made this blog post to help the future Trainee Twitter teams, so they can read about our process and our aims when setting up the account – and so they can follow on from what we started. However, we also hope this post will prove useful for anyone who wants to set up a social media account for their own organisation, with some insight into the processes required to turn this idea into a reality!
— Courtesy of the 2021/22 Trainee Twitter Team