By now, many of you have probably already heard the story the Twitterverse has dubbed #amazonfail – the revelation that Amazon.com has stripped sales rankings and searchability from titles it deems “adult.” Consider it the safesearch of the online shopping world. This might be a mere annoyance–most of us prefer to determine for ourselves the parameters of our searches–but many authors and bloggers contend that the stripped titles are overwhelmingly those that cover sexuality, feminism, and LGBTQ themes, with or without content that could be considered “explicit.”
[You can read more about the stripped titles, and why we should even care about rankings and searchability, all over the internets–but you might want to start with Mark R. Probst, Meta Writer, and Jezebel. Oh, and you can watch #amazonfail unfold by following that hashtag in action–if you hop on over to Twitter Search, you’ll see that #amazonfail and #amazon are among the top trends at the moment.]
There are very real consequences here for us as young adult librarians–many of the titles being deemed “adult” are actually YA or children’s titles, like Rainbow Boys and Heather Has Two Mommies–but that’s not actually what I want to discuss now.
Anyone with a vested interest in social movements must be using Twitter.
Must. Not should, not could–must.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen stories and movements gain massive momentum by using Twitter. Marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont? Found out via Twitter. Earthquake in Italy? Tweeted. Warnings about viruses and scammers? All over Twitter.
While I’ve been writing this, I have tabs open for #amazonfail and #amazon, and just in the past few minutes over 200 updates have been added for each. Can you imagine if we tapped that same momentum for libraries?
I don’t want this to be another idealistic, vague post, so here are some concrete suggestions:
1. Join Twitter. This one’s sort of a no-brainer for me, but I know plenty of people still don’t see the value. Start out small. Join and just follow me, if you’d like, though I have to warn you I tweet a lot, and sometimes about my cats. (I’m mkeagle on Twitter.)
2. Retweet. See something you like? Pass it on. Make sure you make note of where you saw it–I prefer using my own words and “via @username,” but some folks just copy and paste with RT at the beginning.
3. Use hashtags. I usually don’t know a tag’s even in use until I see someone using it. If you’re going to tweet (or retweet) on the same topic, grab that hashtag. Or you can make your own–that’s what many of us at Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) did two weeks ago, using the general #wam09 tag as well as more specific tags for individual sessions. Hashtagging means you can quickly see the big picture. (If your updates are protected, however, even hashtagged tweets won’t show up in Twitter Search. But your followers will still see the tags.)
4. Cross platform lines. When I put up a new blog post, I immediately tweet it. Many Twitter users send their updates to Facebook. Major media outlets are starting to include tweets in their coverage–which makes sense, since stories are beginning to break through Twitter. You exponentially increase visibility for a cause when you start sharing it over multiple platforms.
5. Tweet about what’s important to you. Movements like #amazonfail pick up momentum because people care. It’s thrilling that so many folks out there are passionate about books and equal access, but I’d be even more thrilled if we could channel that passion into even more causes that need our help. I’m talking about library funding, education, youth advocacy.
Will you be part of the next big Twitter trend?