In Part 1 of this series we discussed getting started with Twitter, including determining if Twitter is the right tool for your office or department (read “Considering Social Media” and complete the Social Media Planning Guide). Whether you are just starting out or looking to beef up your Twitter presence, we’re happy to chat with you. We can share best practices and tips, talk strategy, offer ideas, and answer all (or most!) of your social media questions. Just let us know how we can help!
Part 2 of this series focuses on tweeting and how to best interact with your audience.
Who to follow?
You can’t control who follows you (unless you block them, which should only be done in the case of obvious spam accounts), but you can control who you follow.
- You’ll want to follow the main Tufts University handle and other official Tufts accounts. We have created multiple lists that include official Tufts Twitter handles, faculty, student groups, campuses, etc. You can follow one or a few of these lists to see what other people and departments are tweeting. It is good practice to follow other Tufts handles and occasionally retweet relevant information.
- As you gain followers, it is good practice to “follow back,” in order to build relationships and community. However, as in all aspects of your social media usage, use your judgment. If you are followed by accounts focusing on inappropriate material, you should not follow them back. If spammers follow you, you can block them. If you receive a direct message or a tweet with suspicious content, do not click on the link – spammers often use links to get people to click on sites that include inappropriate or malicious content.
- You can search Twitter users and lists to see others who may tweet about things that are relevant to your office or department or subjects related to your field. You may want to follow similar departments at other universities, leaders in your industry, faculty in your department, etc.
- Clients: Many people prefer to use a client like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to manage their Twitter accounts, rather than just using the Twitter website. Clients like these allow you to schedule future tweets, keep lists open, track search terms, be alerted to mentions, etc. Try different clients to see which fit your needs.
- Links: You will likely often tweet links to blog posts, industry articles, events, Tufts information and more. Since Twitter is a 140-character format, links can take up a lot of real estate. Twitter and most clients now automatically shorten URLs for you, but you may want to use a link shortening service, such as bit.ly, to conserve space and track links (it will generate a link such as bit.ly/abc123).
- Retweeting: Retweeting, or RT, is a primary way of sharing content on Twitter. If you are posting content you would like to be retweeted, be sure to make your tweet short enough to allow for “RT @yourusername” to be prefaced to the beginning. Use judgment in what you retweet, as you are sharing content on behalf of the university. Example:
- Hashtags: Hashtags, #, are used to call out certain words or phrases. Adding a # in front of a word or phrase makes it clickable and will return every tweet that has used that hashtag. We often hashtag Tufts (#Tufts), but other hashtags are popular on twitter and you may want to include them to contribute to other conversations. Example:
- Linking to Facebook: If you have both a Facebook and Twitter account, simultaneously and automatically sharing on both platforms is not recommended. Twitter and Facebook are very different platforms with different languages, frequency of posts, and goals for your departments and each should have their own content. Occasionally you may want to post the same information to both places, but the message should be slightly different for each. For instance, you may want to use a hashtag in the tweet, but not on Facebook since hashtags are not used on Facebook.
- Photos: Everyone loves photos. You can use twitpic, yfrog, or other services to upload photos from your desktop and most clients and phone apps have built in photo options. Instagram photos can easily be tweeted from the Instagram app.
- Sometimes you may prefer to take a conversation off of the public twitterverse and have a private conversation, for example if someone is asking very specific questions or has a complaint. You can only send someone a direct message (DM) if that person is following you and you can only receive DMs from people you are following.
Remember, unless you have explicitly protected your account (which is not recommended), all of your updates are public and findable, so, as we like to say: think twice, post once.
* 6/22/12 Update: Check out the final installment of this series here.