by Emma Chesterman
Before setting up a twitter account we would strongly recommend that you think very carefully about the following:
- Why do you need a twitter account? What are you hoping to achieve through this medium? What are you going to tweet about? What will you say? Tweets should be interesting, relevant and useful (not always all three!)
If you are going to be scratching around for things to tweet about then do think hard about this. There are College accounts through which we can send out tweets on your behalf.
- Who is your audience? Who do you want to reach, inform, inspire? Are you driving traffic to somewhere?
- How will you manage your twitter account? Who will be tweeting? And when?
- A focused key content tweeter
- More than one person on the team?
If you are going to have a team of tweeters, maybe you could create profiles of people who are tweeting. Each person could sign off their own tweets with their initials – showing the people behind the tweets. E.g. the College press officers on the @Imperialspark twitter account or President Obama (@barackobama) and his campaign team – any tweets from Obama have his initials (BO) in them.
After consideration of these points you might find it useful to draw up a simple policy in which you set yourself and your other tweeters some guidelines.
You should also ensure that you stick within the College policies:
- Conditions of Use of IT Facilities:
- Collaborative interactions guidelines:
- What will your twitter username be? If you can, make sure it’s clear immediately for users. With a limited character count, you will need to put some thought into this.
- Writing your bio. Take time to think about what your 140 character bio will be. You don’t get much space – but you need to explain what you’ll be doing on the account. Imperial’s main (@imperialcollege) account says “Imperial on twitter – follow us for campus alerts and daily highlights.” And the research communications account (@imperialspark) says “Imperial College London Research Comms – Katie, Simon, Colin, Sam, Tanya, Laura and Natasha”. It’s quite nice to say who is tweeting if you fancy making things quite personal?
- Don’t forget your URL. Put your website URL in the Bio field. This helps to ensure the account looks official.
- Think about what your avatar will be (the square image that goes next to all your tweets) and have one ready to add to your account when you set it up. Your account will look a little half-hearted if you keep the twitter default for long. Do not copy any of the existing Imperial ones as that becomes confusing for users – and definitely don’t squeeze down the College logo.
- Have some initial tweets ready for the first few days so you have a content plan in hand.
- Re-tweeting interesting and informative information is a useful way to build up followers and relationships.
- Follow other tweeters. It’s not just about tweeting, it is a really useful way to follow other tweeters to keep on top of the latest news and chat in your field. Follow other organisations who you would deem to be your competition.
- Your twitter voice. Decide how formal/informal you’d like to make your twitter voice. Somewhere in middle can work quite well. You can use more conversational speak on twitter and give your tweets a bit of character. Social media content should be authentic otherwise it will quickly be rejected.
- Think about how you use it in your overall social media strategy – are you going to be posting exactly the same information on Facebook or will you be tailoring your information for each mechanism? Tweets are generally more frequent than Facebook posts and you obviously have less characters.
- Twitter is a great medium for followers to keep abreast of what is going on – it is more informational, whereas the format of Facebook allows whole conversations to be played out and gives room for you to display your profile more readily. In twitter, your identity is more strongly linked to the content of your tweets.
- Practice. If you have never used twitter before and are going to be involved in or responsible for the management of your College account you might like to have a bash at using twitter for yourself first – just so you can get a feel for it.
For tips on writing your tweets:
A guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities:
Some more useful tips from CASE on using twitter in a Higher Education Environment
The World Has Gone Viral: Get Busy Tweeting
Some useful information from our Web Skills Surgery on Social Media:
If you are going to set up a College twitter account, you do not need any formal approval but do tell us so that we can follow your account and start retweeting your tweets. You can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org