Self-organised network: does Mastodon have what it takes to become the “scholarly-owned social network”?

by ZBW MediaTalk-Team

Ever since Elon Musk, holding a sink in his arms (“Let that sink in!”), entered the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco at the end of October, a sense of dark foreboding has been spreading in the online world. The richest man in the world had orchestrated a hostile takeover of the short message service: It is rumoured to have cost him 44 billion US dollars to turn his hobby into a new enterprise, which he can add to his business empire (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, Neuralink and others).

The billionaire had previously assured the world that he is a “free speech absolutist”. His plan was now to make Twitter into a place of uncensored freedom of speech. Those who were sanctioned and blocked for violating the community rules, would sooner or later receive a general absolution and be able to return to the platform. Even Donald Trump – former president of the United States and co-instigator of the most spectacular attempted coup in the USA to date – would have the red carpet rolled out for him.

Toxicity 2.0

Now Twitter has never been a cosy refuge of mutual understanding, consideration and the cultured exchange of arguments. Twitter has polarised opinions for years. But as the increase in social division has continued, particularly in the west, hate and toxicity have been constantly increasing on the platform. They are expressed in threats, open racism, discrimination, fake news, doxing and cyber-bullying. More than a few German politicians have therefore recently pulled the plug and turned their backs on the network.

How Twitter will develop in future years is anyone’s guess. However, on the evidence of the few days since Elon Musk has been at the helm, it doesn’t look good. The new CEO appears to be nervously driven, almost erratic. His first act after taking the wheel was to fire the moderating powers within the company, thereupon to bark contradictory commands to the remaining workforce. In the meantime, Twitter Inc. has neither a press department nor a data protection officer, causing the data protection officers of German companies and organisations to break out in a collective sweat, because the operation of Twitter accounts under consideration of GDPR aspects can only be legally justified with a great deal of good will.

Fear of loss of reach

Ministries, authorities but also the science sector is now facing a dilemma. There is a strong moral obligation to pack up, shut down the account that you have been nurturing and maintaining for many years and bid farewell, softly but firmly, to Twitter. On the other hand, there is an understandable fear of loss of reach: How can politics stay in touch with the public? How can universities, museums and libraries fulfil their public mandate if, at the same time, they leave their online communities?

Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

It is questions like these that, since the dimming of Twitter, have led to one name in particular being floated around: “Mastodon”. At the moment it’s individuals in particular, who are looking for a new home – and the short messaging service alternative seems to have a certain appeal to members of the science community especially.

Much has been written in recent days about this actually not-so-very-new platform. Started in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, it is a distributed micro-blogging service that lies completely in the hands of the community, thanks to its open source code. In contrast to Twitter, Mastodon is not a centrally organised entity but a network that is created from hubs “instances”. Every instance can function autonomously or alternatively stretch its arms out to the big network where it then becomes part of the large Fediverses that is home these days not only to social networks but also to video streaming services, image sharing services and the like. Theoretically, every imaginable service and every kind of content can be added to the Fediverse using compatible open source communication protocols – the possibilities are boundless!
Theoretically, at least.

Crisis as chance

Although the developments regarding the Twitter takeover are to be evaluated critically, they were – at the same time – a collective wake-up call for openness in the digital sphere. The idea of decentralised systems that are in the hands of the communities – such as for scientific exchange and scholarly communication – is closely aligned to the wish of many people for more openness in science. There is no gatekeeper; there are no paywalls, no evolved, incomprehensible hierarchies; just the self-organisation of the community.

ZBW MediaTalk succumbed to the charm of Mastodon at a quite early stage. In 2019 we set up the account for the blog; a few months ago we really got going and since then we have been posting content regularly from the library and Open Science world.

And it’s working.

But after several months of operation, maybe it’s time to do a stocktake – not a performance evaluation, though; it’s definitely too early for that. But a summary of the experiences we have made to date. Because naturally even this much lauded network (perhaps occasionally praised with too much uncritical euphoria) is not entirely free of problems. Let’s refer to them as unusually deep puddles that lurk out of sight, and that Mastodon newbies can easily put their feet into. Because they do exist.

At that time we decided to create our account on the Openbiblio Instance. Purely theoretically though, we could have decided to use any one of the dozens of official and even hundreds of unofficial instances. Or to operate our own server. So why Openbiblio? This instance has been operated by the Berlin State Library (SBB) since 2019, and we therefore know the team behind it. There is a data protection statement, server rules and thanks to the maintenance by the SBB IT department, one can assume that the accessibility of the server is relatively reliable. All this is not necessarily a matter of course. As a result of its decentralised nature, Mastodon and the Fediverse in general have been born with structural weaknesses that have still not been ironed out.

Three critical points

1. Data protection

Firstly the topic of data protection. Unlike commercial platforms that track, log and process the behaviour of their users down to the smallest detail in order to sell targeted advertising, Mastodon instances are exempt from such blanket data collection frenzy. Is data protection therefore automatically guaranteed in the Fediverse? Not at all. With one click, the administrator has an overview of everything at all times: on Mastodon, posts and messages are not even end-to-end encrypted, which is why most instances today pre-emptively warn that if someone wants to send a DM, “don’t share any sensitive information on Mastodon!” And the way in which private user data is protected from the eyes of third parties is also left to the discretion of each administrator. With some servers, there is no mention of a contact person for data protection issues; others completely neglected to provide a privacy policy worth mentioning at all.

2. Data security

Next keyword: data security. This too depends completely on the knowhow and commitment of the server administrator. It doesn’t take much to bring a Mastodon instance to life. But it doesn’t take much to destroy it again either. The founder of the Social.Bonn server found this out in the year 2017. When trying to install an update on his instance, the whole system crashed: all postings and all the accounts that had been previously set up were irretrievably lost. There was no backup.

Do the administrators of the chosen instance handle it with care? Do they install critical fixes to the code in a timely manner? Do they even install updates at all? Can they guarantee regular data security? From the outside, these questions can almost never be answered, which means that choosing an instance is reduced to a game of chance. The hint that you can change your instance at any time is no help here, because when would be the right time to do this? However much the world mistrusts the major commercial platforms: no-one seriously worries about a complete loss of data there.

3. Moderation

A third point of criticism concerns the climate – the social discourse on the platform. How can it be ensured that the instance is a place of civilised discourse? Mastodon is by default equipped with features that allow the members to report offensive or criminal content. But how and whether the administrators react to the reports is initially left solely up to them. The Fediverse does not have a common canon of values for content evaluation; there are no generally-valid community guidelines and no overriding committee that members can call on for clarity if no action is taken or suspicions are false. What mobbing is, what fake news is, where offensiveness stops and open hatred begins – all this is decided by the administrators of the respective server, initially under their own steam. Sometimes their rules are laid down specifically; sometimes not. Factors such as the size of an instance and the resources available can also make content moderation more difficult. The large commercial networks rely on artificial intelligence and outsourced moderation teams to fish out evil, dirty and forbidden content from the timelines. How can just one person take on this task round the clock if they are maintaining an instance with thousands of members? And the issue of toxicity is only one element of the supervision: we haven’t even mentioned how copyright-protected content is handled (German).

Cooperation is now called for

Data protection, data security and moderation – these are the three critical weak points that you need to bear in mind with Mastodon, when choosing an instance. There is always only an approximation of security (and at this point, thanks again to the SBB in Berlin), but no guarantees. If you want to play it safe, you logically have to rely on self-hosted instances.

Operating your own instances as an alternative to using the services of the major commercial players sounds like the promised land in a science environment that is becoming increasingly more open, transparent and independent. This is also true in the light of current efforts to have the operation of Open Science infrastructures completely in the hands of scientific communities (scholarly-owned) or at least under their control /scholarly-led). But in order for this plan to become a reality, institutions must cooperate more closely, come to agreements, and develop a common vision of what such a network could look like and the values it could reflect. And the time is now. Consolidation, clear responsibilities and transparency are required to minimise the three structural weak points. One idea could be to establish a consortium, within which several scientific institutions can join forces, either on an institutional or target group-specific basis, in order to jointly operate an instance that is secure for everyone. The fact that Mastodon is an open source project means that there is even the opportunity to actively push the development of the network forward or promote it in another way.

Alternatively or additionally, the development of a certification process is a possibility for existing and new instances such as those in the scientific sector. A joint criteria catalogue has been defined for this purpose – compliance with it offers registered users a certain degree of security. Are there specific contact persons? Is data protection maintained? Are data pools backed up regularly? Does moderation take place, and if yes, on the basis of which rules? If there was simply a seal, a formal certification, then outsiders would have many of their questions answered. Even today, timid attempts at an initial regulation have been made: For example, the official Mastodon website currently only lists those servers, who fulfil certain criteria, although this tends to concern merely rudimentary rules.

These are just a few suggestions. There are sure to be a few clever ideas out there on this topic that could help to make Mastodon a viable alternative to Twitter – or much more, perhaps. One thing is certain: the momentum to start thinking about it has arrived right now.

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The post Self-organised network: does Mastodon have what it takes to become the “scholarly-owned social network”? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Social Media in Libraries: Best Practice From the Austrian National Library

An interview with Marlene Lettner, Claudia Stegmüller and Anika Suck, part of the social media team in the Communication and Marketing Department of the Austrian National Library.

The reach of the Austrian National Library is one of the widest on the social web among libraries in German-speaking countries. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn – the institution keeps its public up to speed through text, photo and video, and it does it successfully! We asked Marlene Lettner, Claudia Stegmüller and Anika Suck, who are in charge of the channels, what the National Library’s social media goals are, which formats generate followers and what the workflow behind the scenes looks like.

Hello! In your opinion, why is it important for libraries and digital infrastructure institutions to be active on social media?

Firstly, to increase our visibility and secondly, because we want to reach our target groups where they like to hang out. Beyond this, as the Austrian National Library, we have a legal mandate to make our collections accessible to a wide public, and social media is perfect for this.

The Austrian National Library runs its own channels on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Why did you decide to use these specific networks and who are your target audiences there?

We cater to our target audiences on all of the channels they use. This means that on Facebook, we communicate with our older target groups who mainly visit our museums. Facebook still offers the best option when it comes to telling our visitors about events too. Instagram is most popular with the target group of 25- to 45-year-olds and it offers some playful features. We mostly use YouTube as a home base for our videos, which we then share on our website or via other social media channels.

What kind of topics do you feature on your social media channels?

We’re not just a library – we’re also home to six museum areas and eight collections – so we need to cover a wide range of topics.

From special exhibitions to events and current blog posts, offers for guided tours and seminars, follower reposts and bizarre discoveries in the archive – we do it all.

To create good content for an institution’s social media channels, you need people who remember the social media team and pass on information, insights and stories. How do you manage to motivate other employees to give you ideas for content?

We are a relatively large institution with almost 400 employees. Luckily, colleagues from the most varied of departments provide us with content on a regular basis. This includes special discoveries from the photo archives, from ANNO (Austrian Newspapers Online) and finds from the hashtag #AriadneFrauDesMonats (“#AriadneWomanOfTheMonth”).

What topics or posting formats work particularly well for you?

Our users like photos of our magnificent ceremonial hall the most, as well as old cityscapes of Vienna.

Antique bookshelves with ladders ladders always work well, as does anything ‘behind-the-scenes’ in addition to unusual, particularly beautiful perspectives. Unusual finds from our collections are also popular.

Has a content idea ever backfired?

Fortunately, we haven’t had a shitstorm yet. And we’ve never had a real fail either. There are, however, some sensitive topics we deal with that might cause a stir. That’s why we try to stick to the facts, stay neutral and not get political. But sometimes people react to something when you’re not expecting it: we recently advertised an event that is taking place throughout Austria that focuses on climate protection this year. Some people misunderstood and reported the post.

In your opinion, what is a good tip that libraries should bear in mind if they want to get started on social media?

As it’s difficult to influence the algorithms, it’s important to experiment and find out what your target audience actually likes. In terms of content, you should aim for quality and stay true to your principles. So don’t share daily politics, polemical content and so on.

And finally, please tell us which formats go down particularly well – both with the public and with the editors.

Stories with GIFs, reels or short videos and anything that gets users interacting with you like exclusive Instawalks, reposts and quizzes. Recurring content like #staircasefriday is also good because the editing is faster, but it still keeps things interesting for users.

Thank you for the interview!
This text has been translated from German.

The Austrian National Library

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About the authors:

Marlene Lettner (LinkedIn), Claudia Stegmüller (LinkedIn und Xing) and Anika Suck (LinkedIn) are part of the social media team in the Austrian National Library’s Communication and Marketing department.

Portraits:
Anika Suck: private©, Claudia Stegmüller: FOTObyHOFER©

All other pictures: Austrian National Library©

The post Social Media in Libraries: Best Practice From the Austrian National Library first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Smorgasbord: Twitter v. Mastodon; Incentivizing Open Science; DEI v. Involution

Another “mixed bag” post from us — Is it time to leave Twitter? How can we incentivize journals and authors to take up open science practices? What is “involution” and is DEIA the solution?

The post Smorgasbord: Twitter v. Mastodon; Incentivizing Open Science; DEI v. Involution appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Libraries on Twitch: Ideas for Starting on the Streaming Platform

by Claudia Sittner

Twitch, actually Twitch.tv, is a live streaming platform. Founded in 2011, it is mainly used for streaming games and e-sports, but you can also broadcast events there, and since 2015 other target groups have been addressed with Twitch Creative. In 2014, Twitch was acquired by Amazon. Since 2016, accounts can be linked to the Amazon Prime programme (Twitch Prime).

This is how the streaming works

The streamers (creators) show how they play a game. One camera is usually directed at the game, a second shows the face of the streamer and thus their immediate reactions during the game (face cam). A chat runs alongside, in which the viewers comment. In this way, the gamers can interact with them, for example, pick up on comments or answer questions.

Sharp rise in streamers during the pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, Twitch gained greatly in viewers. In 2020, for example, user numbers doubled; in 2021, Twitch recorded over 1 billion visits per month (German). Over 8 million streamers broadcast there (September 2022, German).

During the lockdown, the platform also became popular for streaming lectures. For example, a teacher from the USA regularly streamed his course about streaming on Twitch.

Follow, subscribe, donate, chat: This is how Twitch works

On Twitch, you can follow streamers or subscribe to their channels. Following is free of charge. With the paid subscriptions, viewers can support the streamer financially. Donations are also possible. Other options for professional streamers to earn money on Twitch are affiliate marketing, where viewers buy articles directly via commission links. The article “Twitch Marketing: What can Twitch do besides gaming?” (German) goes into more detail.

Streams can also be followed without a Twitch account. They are stored on the platform for 30 days and then automatically deleted. In the meantime, a link – and thus preservation – is possible via YouTube, for example. Emoticons are called “emotes” on Twitch. Streamers can activate their own. Emotes can also be added by subscribing to channels.

Who uses Twitch?

The average age of viewers on Twitch is 21 years. In detail, the users of Twitch look like this (German): 65 percent are male, 41 percent are digital natives of Generation Z and thus between 16 and 24 years old. 32 percent of users are between 25 and 34 years old. If you are an older Twitch user, you are considered an exotic. Users come mainly from the USA, France and Great Britain.

Libraries that are considering setting up a channel on Twitch should ask themselves how large the intersection between their target group and Twitch users is. In addition, one can also ask: What can the platform do for us as library staff?

Exotics wanted: Twitch Creative

In 2015, Twitch initiated the “Twitch Creative” project to promote creative formats beyond gaming and e-sports. The promotion consists of making it easier to find the channels of creative streamers. Twitch has thus become a meeting place for users interested in art and culture. Hobbyists, artists and programmers show their work processes live here.

Some unusual accounts have grown up in the wake of Twitch Creative, for example that of the 70-year-old “Bacon Mom“, who has been tinkering with her Minecraft world for years and tells stories of her life. With the new niches in the fields of art, culture and literature, Twitch Creative would probably also be the right place for unusual library, open science or infrastructure streams. Certainly programming or coding formats would also be well accommodated here. Institutions could score points with creative, entertaining or particularly helpful formats.

Example MarmeladenOma

A very charming example of an unusual account is that of grandmother (Oma) Helga Sofie Josefa, who is now over 90 years old. With the help of her grandson Jannik, she has been streaming as MarmeladenOma (meaning Marmelade Granny) for more than five years. On her channel, she regularly takes viewers to her fairytale island and reads stories from books, sometimes for hours. What started out small suddenly gained momentum in 2017 when YouTube star “Gronkh” spontaneously dropped by the live fairy tale hour undercover with a few thousand fans (German) , almost causing Helga Sofie Josefa’s server to crash and the old lady to be amazed because the number of incoming comments skyrocketed.

The account now has more than 70,000 followers. The fans like the authentic and loving manner of MarmeladenOma. She reminds them of their grandmother and the reading sessions from their childhood. When the videos are deleted from Twitch after 30 days, they can then be found on the streamer’s 240,000 subscriber YouTube channel (German). In the meantime, she has become a real celebrity beyond the scene and has been to industry events such as Gamescom. If you want to learn more about MarmeladenOma, I recommend this article (German). This example shows that even with simple tools, good ideas can take off and lead to successful and wide-reaching channels.

Libraries on Twitch

So far, libraries have been largely absent from Twitch. “The few libraries that currently use Twitch for programming use it for gaming and e-sports, online workshops, and other programs, such as art, book clubs, and guest speakers,” says an article in the American Libraries Magazine. And further “that Twitch is already being used in some higher education settings for language learning, lectures, coding demonstrations, and office hours”. All ideas that could also be implemented in libraries.

In German-speaking countries, the Pfalzbibliothek (Pfalz Library) or the KLAR project (German) of the Stadtteilbibliothek Klarenthal (District Library) in Wiesbaden are active on Twitch. Mainly lectures are streamed. The target groups are young people and their parents. The KLAR project started with the micro-influencer Koriwan. This is certainly also a good way for libraries to draw attention to themselves.

Getting started on Twitch: Necessary equipment

According to a Twitch guide for beginners (German) the following equipment is needed for a successful start:

  • A computer with good performance, ideally not a laptop because their graphics cards are often not as powerful,
  • at least four USB ports for accessories,
  • a good microphone,
  • a webcam,
  • a game capture device,
  • a streaming programme, for example Streamlabs OBS.

The latter can be used to link your own Twitch account with services such as Facebook, Prime or YouTube. In addition, so-called widgets are available. These can be used to add a chat or alerts to the stream for certain events. Events can be new followers or subscribers.

Five success factors for Twitch

As with all social media platforms, success on Twitch is a matter of luck and a long-distance run. Nevertheless, a few things are helpful to increase your chances of growing your number of followers and subscribers:

  1. Always remain authentic and have fun while streaming.
  2. Be creative.
  3. Stay true to your own line: Sometimes success comes from simply doing a certain thing for a very long time.
  4. Stream regularly: This creates reliability and strengthens the bond with the viewers.
  5. Incorporate recurring elements, this creates a brand and a recognition value.

This text has been translated from German.

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About the author

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

The post Libraries on Twitch: Ideas for Starting on the Streaming Platform first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Social Media in Libraries: Best Practice and Tips for Successful Profiles From the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Especially when looking at the Facebook (around 11,000 followers) and Instagram channels (3,700 followers) of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB), it quickly becomes clear that they are doing something pretty right on social media. In addition, the BSB is active on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in various ways. We asked two members of staff about their target groups, recipes for success and topics that are doing particularly well.

An interview with Peter Schnitzlein and Sabine Gottstein from the press and public relations division of the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek in Munich.

Why do you think it is important for libraries and digital infrastructure institutions to be active on social media?

Here we can only refer to the interview published on ZBW MediaTalk on the seven “glorious” reasons: Why libraries have to be permanently active on social media!

Today, certain target groups can simply no longer be reached with “classic” communication channels such as press relations or a library magazine – regardless of whether they are published in analogue or digital form. These target groups are more likely to be reached – differentiated according to age and content – via the appropriate and corresponding social media channels. This does not mean that classic communication work will disappear in the foreseeable future – on the contrary. However, it can be stated that social media engagement is taking up an increasingly larger share of a library’s overall communication. We have to take this into account.

You are very active on social media at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. What are your goals with and target groups on the different channels? Why did you choose these of all channels?

The aim of the engagement in social media is primarily to inform about the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, its services, holdings and information and usage offers, to interest people in the library or to positively influence the perception of the library and, if necessary, to strengthen the bond with the library through entertaining elements. The activities serve to make the library visible to the digital or virtual public as an internationally important general and research library as well as an important cultural institution on a local, regional and national level. The social media ideally support the strategic goal of the BSB to be perceived as Germany’s leading digital library with extensive, innovative digital usage offers and as a treasure house of written and visual cultural heritage. We attach great importance to participation and networking with specialist communities and stakeholders in our communication.

As extensive and wide-ranging as the fields of action of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek are, as diverse and varied are the target groups that need to be considered and served. We operate our own channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. With these five social media channels selected by the library, we hope to be able to address the majority of the target groups in an appropriate manner. Roughly formulated and certainly strongly generalised, we can state the following:

  1. Twitter primarily serves professional communities, thematically related institutions or multiplier groups such as press and media representatives.
  2. Instagram is intended to reach a younger target group (20-35 years of age),
  3. Whereas Facebook is aimed more at the 30 to 55 age group. The two channels should appeal to users as well as to a broad audience with an affinity for culture and libraries.
  4. With YouTube, we want to address not exclusively, but primarily everyone over 16, actually everyone who is at home in the digital world. Explanatory videos on webinars, on how to use the library or a new app are just as much in demand here as the presentation of special library treasures. Video content is currently the measure of all things and we will pay special attention to this channel in the future.
  5. We use the photo portal Flickr less as a social media channel than as a documentation site, to offer important pictures of the building or of exhibition posters in one central place, and for external requests for pictures of the BSB.

In addition to the corporate channels, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek also operates numerous specialist channels for individual departments, projects or specialist information services. The reason for this is the fact that certain (specialist) target groups cannot be successfully addressed through corporate channels. In view of the immense range of subject areas covered by the BSB, the central social media editorial team cannot have the professional expertise needed to cover all these topics in detail. Coordination processes would be too time-consuming and lengthy to successfully create content and to be able to act quickly and efficiently – a very important aspect in social media communication.

How long have you been present in social media?

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek dedicated itself to this field of communication relatively early on. We have been active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube since 2009, on Flickr since 2007 and on Instagram since 2016. At present, we have no plans for further expansion of activities. In view of the short-lived nature and speed of innovation in this area, however, this may change in the short term. In this respect, only a daily status report is possible here.

What topics take place on your social media channels?

The content that the BSB posts can be summarised well, as mentioned above, under “inform, interest, entertain”. The same content is often published on Facebook and Twitter, although more specialist topics that are primarily intended to interest the specialist community and multipliers tend to be published on Twitter. On Instagram, the decisive criterion is always the appealing picture, and recently video. In general, a certain entertainment factor plays just as much a role on Instagram as on Facebook as the primary approach of informing.

In order to “feed” the social media channels well for an institution like yours, you need people who think of the social media team and pass on information and stories, who are perhaps also willing to make an appearance themselves. How do you get other staff to provide you with information, stories and ideas for your channels?

The topics are recruited in close cooperation and constant exchange with our internal specialist departments. There are social media contacts there who report relevant content from their own department to the central social media editorial team. The latter, in turn, also inquires specifically in the departments if necessary. Our directorate expressly supports and welcomes the active participation of the departments, project groups and working groups in the social media work of the house.

The social media team also actively establishes references to other cultural and academic institutions, picks up on library-relevant topics and comments on them. The creation of a thematic and editorial calendar with anniversaries, jubilees, events, etc. also facilitates the identification of suitable content for the social media channels.

In the press and public relations division, something like a central “newsroom” is currently being set up. This is also, where information for press topics or content for library magazines should come in. The social media editorial team will automatically learn about topics, which are primarily intended for other communication channels. The team can then decide to what extent they should be included in the social media work.

Which topics or posting formats work particularly well for you and why?

In general, we can see that postings related to current events work well:

Tweet of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek regarding the participation in the SUCHO (Search for Ukrainian Cultural Heritage) project (German)

For example, our tweets condemning the invasion of Ukraine (German) or our participation in the SUCHO project (Search for Ukrainian Cultural Heritage, German) achieved a wide reach, as did a humorous tip to cool off in the hot summer month of July. The start of a library exchange with colleagues from the German National Library (DNB) and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library; SBB), which just started in Munich, triggered many interactions on Twitter.

On Facebook, the World Book Day post (German) on 22 April referring to the Ottheinrich Bible, one of our magnificent manuscripts, together with a series of archive photos of archive photos of Queen Elisabeth II (German) ) on the occasion of her death were very successful.

Appealing images on Twitter and Facebook – especially posts with three- or four-image compositions – are still crucial for success. Embedding videos on these two social networks, on the other hand, surprisingly does not achieve the desired result on our channels. On the contrary. These posts and tweets achieve low reach and popularity.

On Instagram, on the other hand, short videos in the form of reels are becoming more and more important alongside good picture posts in the feed (German), accompanied by casual, often humorous descriptions. We used this format successfully, especially for our exhibition #olympia72inbildern (#olympia72inpictures, German). Both formats also benefit from being referred to via stories.

Sometimes things go wrong in social media. What was your best fail?

Fortunately, nothing has ever really gone wrong – with one exception (see below). However, every now and then we are (justifiably) reminded that we should not forget to gender in our tweets.

Have you ever had a shitstorm? What have you learned from it?

Yes, we had, at least to some extent – and we don’t like to think back on it. However, we have learned a lot from the incident in dealing with social media. The basic mistake at the time was not to have taken into account the specific requirements of each channel with regard to the wording, the approach to followers and fans and the willingness to explain.

Tips & tricks: What are your tips for libraries that would like to get started with social media?

First of all, it is important to do an honest and thorough analysis. Social media ties up resources, and quite a lot of them. Just doing it “on the side” will not lead to the desired result and harbours dangers. If you want to be active, you must have affine personnel with the appropriate know-how and sufficient time resources. It is indispensable to define the target groups and to identify a permanently sufficient number of topics.

While social media was text-based in the early days, today there is no post or tweet without a picture. On some channels, video content is now the measure of all things, just think of the reels on Instagram, video platforms like YouTube or the omnipresent TikTok. They are currently becoming more and more popular and setting trends. These developments must be taken into account in all considerations of online communication.

If you want to use social media as a means of library communication, you have to check whether you can actually afford to operate all the channels that are currently important and which target groups you actually want to serve with which channels. Creating a written concept – even a short one if necessary – helps to answer these questions precisely. For example, concentrating on one channel, true to the motto “less is more”, may be an effective means of operating successfully with limited resources.

Finally, a little peek into the magic box: What are your favourite tools for social media?

With “Creator Studio”, feed posts for Instagram can also be posted conveniently from the computer and not only from the mobile phone, which makes work considerably easier. Then, of course, there is the editorial and topic plan mentioned above. It is the central working tool for keeping track of and working through topics and content across all channels. In addition to news from the management and the departments, it contains as many events, occasions, relevant (birth or death) anniversaries, etc. as possible. Finally, the apps “Mojo” and “Canva” should be mentioned. With their help, we create and edit Instagram stories, reels, social media posts and visual content. This even goes as far as adding royalty-free music to clips.

This text has been translated from German and is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek on the net

This might also interest you:

This blog article is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

We were talking to:
Peter Schnitzlein passed the final examination for graduate librarian (upper level- graduate of a specialized higher education institution (research libraries)), in 1993 and the modular qualification for the highest career bracket for civil servants in Germany (QE4) in 2018. He has been head of press and public relations and spokesman of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek since 2007.
Portait: BSB©, photographer: H.-R. Schulz

Sabine Gottstein studied language, economic and cultural area studies, worked in the field of communications in Germany and abroad and has been working for the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek since 2015. She is the head of the social media team in the press and public relations division.
Portait: BSB©, photographer: H.-R. Schulz

The post Social Media in Libraries: Best Practice and Tips for Successful Profiles From the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Smorgasbord: A Better Metaphor for Publishing, Twitter/Musk, Equitable Access, and Those Vexing OACA Experimental Controls

A new type of post from us today, offering a smorgasbord of opinions on topics including the ongoing Twitter/Elon Musk saga, just what “equitable access” to the literature means, the ongoing lack of experimental controls in one area of bibliometric analysis, and whether journals are more like a gate or a sewer.

The post Smorgasbord: A Better Metaphor for Publishing, Twitter/Musk, Equitable Access, and Those Vexing OACA Experimental Controls appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Briefly Noted: ZBW MediaTalk in Test Mode on Mastodon

by Claudia Sittner

Profiles of public institutions on commercial social networks have long been a source of unease for data protectionists throughout Germany. But until 2016, there was a lack of equivalent alternatives. Mastodon could be one such alternative. The decentralised network by software developer Eugen Roschko is Open Source with the source code being freely available on Github. The decentralised nature of Mastodon is what makes it so attractive and a good choice from an Open Science perspective.

What is Mastodon? Video by Mastodon on Youtube

Unlike platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, it is non-commercial, free of advertising and run by volunteers, who can also be organisations, on so-called instances. The instances are nodes, i.e. servers, creating a decentralised network: The Fediverse – a cross between “Federated” and “Universe”. The Fediverse is the generic concept for a network of federated systems, which implements a specific protocol (ActivityPub) – like Mastodon.

Data protection and Mastodon

The network is not financed by advertising revenue, which in practice almost always means the collection and use of personal data. So it can be operated in compliance with data protection laws. For data protectionists, however, the decentralisation is the big bonus. It is considered more data-protection compliant because not all data is collected at a central point. Of course, commercial providers can also host an instance, but that would only be one of many. Many Mastodon nodes also have their own data protection statements. However, there are no contracts for Data Processing Agreements. The choice of an instance is, therefore, ultimately a matter of trust.

The increased compatibility with data protection led, among other things, to some German authorities (German) and data protection officers, such as the data protection officer of Baden-Württemberg, Stefan Brink (German), setting up a profile there.

Creating an account on Mastodon: two steps

On Mastodon, users can create accounts in two steps. In the first step, they choose a suitable instance. These differ in terms of the community that has settled there, the usage guidelines, the number of users, the language and the tone. The latter is defined in the usage rules of the instance. Anyone who does not abide by them can be excluded by the admins. Since the individual instances have far fewer accounts than other social networks, expulsion on Mastodon can actually happen quite quickly. It is even possible to exclude entire instances from the Fediverse if, for example, there are no rules of use or the users do not adhere to them and serious cross-account violations occur too frequently.

Finding a suitable instance

There are currently around 3,800 Mastodon instances and 5.2 million users (July 2022). Filter systems or blog posts such as this one (German) can help you find the right instance. When we created the MediaTalk account on Mastodon in 2018 – back then in the tail of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – we chose the OpenBiblio instance. It is run by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (state library). OpenBiblio is constantly growing and currently hosts almost 400 profiles. Around 29,000 contributions have been posted here so far. In the meantime, the instance has become well established for the German-language library scene. In the second step, you can create the user account. The account URL also includes the name of the instance, in our case: https://openbiblio.social/web/@ZBW_MediaTalk.

ZBW-MediaTalk on Mastodon

As can be seen from this example, the name of the instance can already say something about its background, thematic focus and the interests of its community. But don’t worry, choosing an instance is not a life decision: if you don’t feel at home, it is possible to switch. Followers can be taken along, some other things too, but unfortunately not postings.

Posting on Mastodon

To stay with our example: Just because our account is hosted on the OpenBiblio instance does not mean that we can only follow others on that instance and only see their posts, because all instances are linked to the Fediverse. Communication is often compared to e-mail: Even if I have a Googlemail account, I can write mails to users of a Hotmail account and receive mails from them. The practical thing is that with a Mastodon account, you can also follow users with profiles on other Fediverse services like Pixelfed, which is about photos.

So we can follow all other accounts and vice versa. Nothing stands in the way of writing your own posts, which are called “toots” on Mastodon. A toot consists of a maximum of 500 characters. As usual, pictures, videos or similar attachments can be sent along. What is called a “retweet” on Twitter is a “boost” on Mastodon. Instead of hearts or likes, users award stars.

MediaTalk in test mode on Mastodon

After the fuss about Elon Musk’s tweet about buying Twitter, we decided to fill our profile on Mastodon with life. Since we are doing this in test mode for the time being, we are mirroring our tweets there. We currently use the command line tool t2m for this. It’s a bit on the old side, but it’s Open Source and can be easily operated on your own server. There are also online tools for this form of mirroring, but their use in compliance with data protection regulations is questionable. For the reasons mentioned, we are now active on Mastodon, for the time being. But we are confident that we will be there permanently. In what form, after a certain test phase, is still open. So if you are no longer happy on Twitter, maybe because of data protection concerns, you won’t miss anything if you follow us on Mastodon. We would be happy to welcome you there!

This text has been translated from German.

Read more about Mastodon:

Read more on MediaTalk:

About the author

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

Featured Image: Mastodon press kit

The post Briefly Noted: ZBW MediaTalk in Test Mode on Mastodon first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Guest Post — Striking the Right Chord with Millennial and GenZ Researchers

To what extent are scholarly publishers and societies actively engaging with early career researchers? Findings from a white paper, and polls at the SSP annual meeting, are shared.

The post Guest Post — Striking the Right Chord with Millennial and GenZ Researchers appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Ask the Fellows: SSP 2022 Annual Meeting

We ask the 2022 Society for Scholarly Publishing Fellows to offer their thoughts on this year’s Annual Meeting.

The post Ask the Fellows: SSP 2022 Annual Meeting appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Fill in the Blank Leads to More Citations

When a reputable journal refuses to get involved with a questionable paper, science looks less like a self-correcting enterprise and more like a way to amass media attention.

The post Fill in the Blank Leads to More Citations appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Revisiting: Theory of the E-book

Joe Esposito revisits his 2012 post on the unstated theory of the e-book, which assumes that a book consists only of its text and can be manipulated without regard to the nature and circumstances of its creation. This is only one theory of many, but it is now the prevailing one.

The post Revisiting: Theory of the E-book appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Why Libraries Have to be Permanently Active on Social Media: 7 “Glorious” Reasons – 2021 Update

Guest post by Karoline Kahmann and Stephan Schwering

This article is an update of a blog article published in 2018. As this article was met with great interest and a lot has happened in the field of social media and libraries since 2018, the authors have taken another look at the topic and added some current aspects.

1. Increase the level of awareness and visibility of the library.

Time and again it is astonishing how little libraries are perceived by many parts of the population. With social media, libraries have the opportunity to achieve reach in the digital world very easily – even outside the usual library clientele. The usage figures for social media in Germany alone show how big the potential is for libraries. The only thing that is needed is appropriately trained staff and human resources. Smaller libraries in particular have very great opportunities here. And for the larger libraries, presence is now obligatory. Especially during the Corona crisis and the temporary closure of libraries, social media was almost the only way to stay in touch and in active communication with users. Here, a strong social media presence proved to be a resilience factor for library work in the lockdown.

As libraries are usually part of the public administration or other patronage additional coordination efforts are necessary. This is because public relations, press work and also social media are often subject to municipal business or service directives. Municipalities, for example, often have strict guidelines regarding the use of social media. The library is sometimes a bit of an exotic in this respect and absolutely needs the possibility to act freely. Press offices sometimes find this difficult. The only thing that helps here is transparency and close communication, for instance with the press department. And technically, sometimes not all platforms are allowed in the municipal network, so it takes some convincing. In Düsseldorf, this works quite well through close communication.

2. Present the library as a modern, open and future-oriented institution.

Libraries can present themselves as a sympathetic and modern organisation in the social networks. They don’t just want to be perceived as a book rental point, but to be visible as a place with the full range of services they offer. Just posting pictures of book tables and book recommendations is not enough. Although this is also good if it is cleverly done. These posts are sure to reach a desired target group, book and literature lovers, who are very present on Twitter in particular. In social media, a library can let people see everyday library life through a keyhole. It can present itself in a witty and emotional way.

3. Enable direct communication with library users.

It has never been easier to communicate directly with library users outside of the library building. Many library staff still shy away from social media, but it is basically the same communication as in the library itself and beyond. Getting direct feedback in particular offers great opportunities.

4. Be credible as a provider of digital services.

Libraries are offering more and more digital services. Whether loan of digital media, PressReader, databases, streaming services and much more. Nothing makes a library that offers digital services itself more unattractive and untrustworthy than if it struggles with the communicative heart of the digital world, social media, and yet wants to use it to communicate digital services. It is important that libraries are familiar with social media if they want to communicate digital services to interested parties. Professionalism is needed here. For this, you also have to technically master the social media channels.

Ultimately, know-how is decisive for the success of social media: effective staff development in the fast-moving social media sector is therefore particularly important. The (content-related) concepts of the individual networks have changed again and again, and they will continue to change. In addition, new platforms are being added. The constant change and the constant changes of the platforms place high demands on the flexibility and expertise of the social media team, which must always be up to date. At the Düsseldorf Public Libraries, the social media team is trained in regular individual training sessions and through annual coaching of the entire team with external support in order to constantly reflect on and improve their own actions.

5. Attract future specialist staff, trigger positive image transfer.

Imagine you are young, enthusiastic, you live on social media, but at the same time you have a certain professional distance, and you want to apply for an interesting job offer in a library. You search the web und you find the library website and a few of its news items via Google News. Social media platforms? Moderate, not up-to-date or non-existent. One inevitably asks oneself: “The library wants to offer, convey and bring digital content to the users and it is not present at the centrepiece of digital life?”

Everyone talks about the image transformation of libraries. If a library wants to recruit the information specialists of tomorrow, it has to be present there today. At the same time, applicants must be aware that the requirements of modern library work include a lot of digital competence.

6. Networking with communities in their own city and building their own community.

Libraries bring people together, build networks with citizens and provide the platform for this. They are increasingly becoming places of knowledge transfer and informal learning among users. Library labs and makerspaces are springing up in many libraries. If you want to reach out to the digital community and build your own community, a professional presence in social media is essential. Here are the players and here are the multipliers for the library.

The activities of libraries in social media achieve great added value when they are linked to the analogue “third place” of the library (German). Basically, only then do they unfold their full effectiveness and the so-called Return of Investment (ROI) is particularly high.

One can accompany digital communication and the community with new formats of events in the library. This not only increases virtual visibility in this target group, but also sustainable networking. At the Düsseldorf Public Libraries, the #blogsofa (German) has been an example of this since 2016. The event format regularly opens up an analogue stage for Düsseldorf bloggers and creates an interface between social media and face-to-face experiences with fellow citizens. Bloggers are invited to be interviewed about a topic (for instance travel blogs or food blogs) on the sofa by social web ranger Wibke Ladwig. Thus, the bloggers get to know their readers and can network with other bloggers from the region. Since the beginning of the event series, it has been streamed live and thereby brought directly to the digital community. The reaction between digital and analogue produces interesting effects: For example, a do-it-yourself blogger came back to the LibraryLab (German) of the Central Library and offered a workshop for the users. In the digital community, the #blogsofa has become a term, as the audience tweets on site during the event, making the #blogsofa a digital experience for non-participants.

All spatial offers in the library that address the digital community in any way need to be embedded in digital communication. An offer like the LibraryLab in the Central Library of the Düsseldorf Public Libraries can therefore also appear credibly outside the library and serve to network with the local community because the communication is flanked by social media.

7. Being a trustworthy partner on the web – a new challenge and a huge chance.

There are many rumours and hoaxes circulating on the web. This has always been the case, but the whole fake news debate has added a new dimension. Many need guidance, especially in social media. Libraries are present, but they could be much more present and much more active in providing sound information and research. Libraries can be the trusted anchor points on the web.

With the claim to act close to the realities of people’s lives, there is not only a need for public libraries to be present in social media and to strategically design digital communication for the library. Recent developments have also created a mandate to defend our free basic order on the web and to stand up for mutual respect, freedom of opinion and a pluralistic society – to counter the “loud opinion makers” and “hate speech”. At the beginning of the 20s of the 21st century, this results in a challenging field of tension for libraries in relation to social media.

Background: Social Media of the Düsseldorf Public Libraries

For several years now, the Düsseldorf Public Libraries have been very successfully present in the social networks. You can find the public libraries on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and soon for the new youth library of the Central Library on TikTok. The own blog is called “Alphabet Soup” (German). The YouTube-Kanal is currently mainly used as a “container” for video productions for linking, but has seen a significant upgrade during the Corona period.

Stephan Schwering and Karoline Kahmann. Copyright: Andreas Bretz©

This post is an update of the blog article published in 2018 “Why modern libraries need to be active in social media: seven ‘glorious’ reasons’”.

This text has been translated into English.

This might also be interesting:

The post Why Libraries Have to be Permanently Active on Social Media: 7 “Glorious” Reasons – 2021 Update first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Unpacking The Altmetric Black Box

Article Attention Scores for papers don’t seem to add up, leading one to question whether Altmetric data are valid, reliable, and reproducible.

The post Unpacking The Altmetric Black Box appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Revisiting — The Google Generation Is Alright

How much has changed in a dozen years? Lettie Conrad looks back at Ann Michael’s post from the 2009 SSP Annual Meeting, “Publishing for the Google Generation”.

The post Revisiting — The Google Generation Is Alright appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.