Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms online with more than one hundred million people using the site each day.
The microblogging site allows users to read and publish tweets which are limited to 140 characters.
If managed correctly the platform offers virtually limitless opportunities to engage with users around the world and share information, pictures and links.
RGU’s Communications Team manages the university’s corporate account, @RobertGordonUni, and uses it each day to promote news and events.
Twitter - Information for students
Increasing numbers of students are using Twitter as a platform to access news and information about their courses and the world around them.
There are dozens of RGU affiliated Twitter accounts which you can follow as well as the main account, @RobertGordonUni. These are a good way to keep up-to-date with news and events on campus, contact support services and access other important information like IT maintenance, library information and accommodation updates.
In general, common sense is key to using all social media platforms and it is important to think about what you post online and make available to a public audience.
Online safety should be taken very seriously and you should never reveal private information about yourself that you wouldn’t be comfortable telling a stranger.
Tweets can quickly be shared by others and reach a far larger audience than originally intended.
It is possible to change the privacy settings on social media platforms so that only friends or approved followers can see your account. Even then it is important to be careful about what you share online.
Also bear in mind that employers can search for candidates’ social media profiles to see what they might be like. Posts and pictures, which may seem harmless at the time of publication, could potentially send out the wrong message.
Mute and block functionality is also available on Twitter should you need to prevent someone from viewing your account or contacting you via the platform.
Twitter - Information for staff
With all social media platforms it’s worth thinking if Twitter is the right platform to promote the courses and services the university offers.
Twitter is quick and simple to use and when it is used well can become one of the more effective ways of reaching new audiences.
It is important that all official RGU affiliated accounts are managed correctly and used regularly.
It can take time to increase the number of followers for a new account but through continued use this will start to grow.
Providing unique content which is of interest to followers is the best way to grow your account. This can include links to articles and blogs, as well as pictures and videos.
A key step is to promote the account to existing students and encourage interaction through it.
You should also follow accounts which are related to your field of interest. This can help increase your network, and also raise awareness that you are also now adding to the online conversation.
There should always be a plan behind what you’re posting to make sure you are working effectively and in a joined up fashion with other promotional activity.
The communications team re-tweets from other RGU accounts but if there are posts which need to be shared on the main account please include @RobertGordonUni in the tweet, or tag the account in the picture.
Should any issues arise which require a more detailed response than 140 characters you should ask the person getting in touch to contact a relevant member of staff via email.
Changes in account management within your team or department should also be flagged up so that the communications team is aware of any changes.
Twitter - Hints and tips for posting
There aren't any hard and fast rules on how to tweet but there are some simple techniques you can employ to create a vibrant and active account:
- Keep it simple. Tweets should be sort and to the point. Try communicating your message in as few words as possible and use links to point followers to more in-depth content on the website.
- Use a link shortening service, like Bitly. This will reduce the length of the links you tweet and gives you the opportunity to monitor and assess the number of clicks it receives.
- When available, try to tweet pictures as part of your message. This will make the tweet more interesting to readers and increase the likelihood they’ll want to read more.
- Adding pictures also allows you to tag ten other Twitter accounts which will flag up to them as a notification when you tweet the content. This can be useful when you are aiming to get other accounts to re-tweet you.
- When 140 characters isn’t enough you can link to tweets together by replying to your original tweet and removing your handle from the text box. Once you’ve added in the additional text and clicked ‘Tweet’ the two tweets will appear joined together in your timeline.
- Don’t be afraid to engage with people who get in touch with queries, though avoid lengthy exchanges as everything you tweet is public. Instead, provide a contact email address to continue the discussion in a more private setting.
- Use tools like Crowdbooster to measure the account’s effectiveness by monitoring the number of followers you have and your level of engagement with other users through retweets and favourites.
An article from the Guardian Higher Education Network: Ernesto Priego explores the ethics of live-tweeting academic events and provides 10 points to bear in mind when navigating this emerging social media minefield.
Twitter - Glossary of terms
Frequently used Twitter terms
Tweet: (Noun) A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or less. (Verb) Tweet, tweeting, tweeted - The act of posting a message through a Tweet.
Retweet (RT): Pass along someone’s Tweet by retweeting it. Just hit the Retweet button to send the original message to all of your followers.
Timeline: Your timeline is a list of real-time Tweets from the users you are following.
Following: Subscribe to another user so their Tweets in your timeline. A follower is a user who has followed you.
Hashtags: Users often add the hashtag symbol (#) before words or phrases in their Tweets to categorise them for others or to organise conversations around a theme. Users can click on hashtags to see similarly-themed Tweets. #rightclick
@Replies: A Tweet posted in direct response to another user’s message. This is usually done by clicking the “reply” button in their Tweet. @replies always begin with the “@” symbol, followed by the username and will usually only be seen in the timelines of followers for both users. All of your replies sent to others can be seen in your own timeline. To make a reply public, type a dot before the @username.
Direct Message (DM): A direct message (DM) is a private message that only you and the recipient can see. To DM someone, start your Tweet with DM or D, eg: “DM @joesmith234 what is your order number?”
Mention: Bring a Tweet to a user’s attention by including their @username in a Tweet. This is called a mention and will appear to the @username you mentioned as well as to all of your followers. You can see who’s talking about you in the mention section of your Twitter profile.
Like: To Like a Tweet means to mark it as one of your favourites by clicking the heart symbol next to the message.
What is Twitter?
Too embarrassed to admit that you haven't a clue about Twitter, what it is or how to use it? Check out this very short video which explains it in simple terms.