Called a microblogging tool, Twitter allows you to share information with an audience in 140 characters or less (it’s actually quite a challenge sometimes!). Here are some tips to help you succeed in the Twitterverse.
- Remember that the main demographic for Twitter is not tweens, teens, or young adults (our typical prospective student audience). It’s more like 30+. Be aware of that when planning your communication strategy and considering this tool for your target audience. In our experience you should also expect a much smaller list of followers on Twitter than fans on Facebook, as the marketshare is smaller. For instance, as of June 2010, the university’s main Facebook fan page was just shy of 3,500 fans, while the main Twitter account, launched at the same time, had just over 500 followers.
- While Facebook users expect fewer posts (11–13 a month), Twitter is a much more immediate medium—posts are here and gone in a matter of seconds. You can tweet two or three times a day and not overwhelm your followers. With the rapid passing of tweets, you can also post multiple times about the same event without annoying your followers. Just remember to mix it up a little bit so they don’t tune out your tweets.
- As with Facebook it’s good to have a mixture of post content, such as the approximations below:
- 50 percent call to action
Example: Alumni tweeters! Let us know you’re out there so we can add you to our alumni list. Or follow it and see what other Loggers are tweeting!
- 25 percent conversation about the university
Example: What’s a burger to us, when Haiti is hungry? Puget Sound students donate $1,580 in meal points to relief effort. http://bit.ly/cARteq
- 25 percent personality posts
Example: Careful crossing campus, Loggers. The summer residents may be swooping! http://yfrog.com/9ferirj [photo of sign warning about nesting crows on campus]
- Personality is key. Notice that in all the sample posts above, whether they were call to action, university information, or “personality posts,” the author’s voice and personality shone through. It’s key to have personality while still reflecting professionally on the university.
- As with other social media sites, it is recommended to create your Twitter account using a role-based university e-mail address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org rather than a personal account such as email@example.com. (Contact the Technology Service Desk for assistance setting up a role-based e-mail account.) This will be easier for staffing changes. It’s also a good idea to make more than one person in your department an administrator on the account.
- Be sure to search Twitter regularly on your handle, or save searches for keywords so you can see what others are saying about you, and to perhaps retweet those posts. There are also many online tools out there that can help you aggregate what is being said about you on Twitter (or other social media).
- Consider using a feed manager such CoTweet or Tweetdeck to help manage multiple feeds and schedule planned tweets. Many handheld devices, such as iPods and smart phones, can also be set up with applications to allow you to remotely update your account. Just be careful with security.
- Standard actions/conventions in Twitter:
@handle: You can make sure the folks you’re tweeting about see your posts by using the @ sign with their handle in your post.
Example: Current students, fac, & staff: Be a DJ for the summer!! @KUPSTHESOUND is accepting apps thru 6.5. Request an app: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply: Reply to someone else’s tweet by using their handle (with @ sign) as the first thing in your post. Your reply will show up in your feed as well as theirs.
Example: @ivoandov Fabulous! Welcome to the fold, Ivo! Consider yourself alumni listed.
Retweet: Sharing someone else’s tweet on your feed. There are two ways to responsibly retweet content: adding an “RT” and their handle (with @ sign) in front of their original post content OR if you need to alter the post to add your own comments or make it shorter, you can attribute it with a note such as (via @handle). Twitter has also added a Retweet button to make retweeting even easier, if you choose to use it.
Example: Hmm. This seems interesting. RT @duckiehunt Duck #205 has moved to University of Puget Sound http://duckiehunt.com/view/location/401
Example: How was the BBQ? Via @tedmeriam Didn’t accept the bid to Sigma Chi back in 2004, but today I crashed the Greek Reunion BBQ @univpugetsound.
URL Shorteners: These free online services take a long URL and reduce it to just a few characters, which is pretty important when you only have 140 characters for your whole message, including any URL you want to add. Our favorite is bit.ly because it offers tracking and customization of the links.
Hashtags: Hashtags are keywords you can use in your post so that people can follow a thread or topic. Hashtags are preceded by the # sign, and you should test yours out before you want to use it. It could be taken or not work for some reason, as we’ve experienced. You may want to consider offline promotion of planned hashtag use, such as listing a hashtag on event materials if you’re hoping people will tweet about or during the event, such as a conference.
Example: RT @univpugetsound: Puget Sound nominated for a #Webby! Help them be Web Champs. VOTE! http://bit.ly/aitbYu /via @amytvuong <Thanks!>
Lists: Twitter lists allow you to organize groups of tweeters around topic, region, relationship, or any other conceivable organizing principle. We maintain two lists on the university Twitter account: an alumni list (Puget Sound alumni who have self-identified as alumni who tweet) and a Tacoma list (area organizations and groups that tweet useful local information.
- You may have noticed that the syntax in the example posts in this section doesn’t always match the university style guide. No one is more aware of that than the Office of Communications! However we recognize that in a 140-character world, sometimes syntax has to take a backseat to getting the message across effectively. So you may have to play with your post and evolve through several drafts to find the winning post that meets the size requirements. Don’t be afraid to abbreviate as long as it’s logical. Nonstandard words, phrases, and syntax that might not fly in an official university publication is sometimes necessary in the Twitterverse, such as the use of “thru” versus “through” or the occasional ampersand.
- Twitter users can choose to subscribe to your tweets and receive them on their cell phones as texts. If you’re considering an appropriate feed which might merit such a delivery method, consider advertising this as a possibility.
- Useful links to help keep on top of changing policies and information about Twitter: