Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters, which doesn’t seem much when we are used to writing at length about complex ideas. That doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial or only used to tweet about frivolous things. Many people, especially in an HE context, who are new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates about whatever they’re doing would be interesting to others. But there are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of very practical use to others.
The tone of your professional twitter account needn’t be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. Even if tweeting on behalf of a service, you need to be engaging rather than formal, ‘passing on information’ rather than ‘making announcements’. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that tweets can be kept, even if you delete them (more on this on Day 9). As a rule of thumb, don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context!
If you’ll also be tweeting in an official capacity for your service, think about the balance of your own announcements to other information (Twitter is still a conversation, not an announcement service, and too much one-way, impersonal promotion will turn off your following!). There are a number of documents at the university (from Corporate Communications and CSD) offering guidance as to how to approach social media as a member of the University of Liverpool, but watch this space as I’m chairing a new working group to bring guidance together.
- A compliance document from CSD which can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/computingservices/regulations/social-media-policy.pdf
- A policy document from corporate communications which can be found at https://www.liv.ac.uk/intranet/media/livacuk/corpcomms/pdf/social-media-guidelines.pdf=
- A Student Guide to Social Media which can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/corpcomms/pdf/SOCIAL,MEDIA.pdf
Some examples of what you might tweet about:
- an article you’re reading that’s interesting or a book you recommend
- an online resource you’ve stumbled across
- a workshop, lecture, webinar, seminar or conference you’re going to – others may not have known about it, may want to meet you if they’re also going to be there, or may want to ask you about it if they can’t make it
- a new person you met today who might be a good contact for you or others in future
- some insight on academic work from an incident that happened today
- advice, tips or insights into how you teach or research for students or other colleagues
- a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
- slides from a talk or lecture which you’ve just uploaded online
- your thoughts on an education or other news story relevant to your work
- a funding, project or job opportunity you’ve just seen
- a digital tool or software you’re using or problem you’ve solved with it
- a typical day – an insight into an academic’s life or moral support
- your new publication or report which has just come out (there are ways of mentioning this gracefully!)
Sending a tweet is really easy – when you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a box at the top of the screen saying ‘What’s happening?’.
If you click in the box, you’ll be able to write your tweet in the text box and then click the ‘Tweet’ button. Remember – you’re only able to write 140 characters including spaces, and there’s a small counter below the text box which tells you how many characters you have left. Once you go over the limit, it will start to count in minus numbers to highlight how many characters you need to delete. You’ll soon develop a suitably concise style, and learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.
How to tweet
To give additional location context to your tweet, you can choose to add location to your tweets using twitter.com, or Twitter for Android, iOS or other mobile apps. This feature is disabled by default but can be enabled for all of your tweets or on a tweet-by-tweet basis. See Twitter’s Adding your location to a Tweet support page to find out more. We’ll get to adding media to your tweets in a later post.
Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll be varying the types of tweets you send until ultimately, your tweets may look something like this:
That’s it! Today’s task is to get tweeting. You can start by posting this tweet (you can copy & paste if you want):
Joining in #LivUni10DoT with @LivUni10DoT and @reedyreedles
Try sending a few more tweets throughout the day. Don’t worry about hashtags, URLs, mentions etc. just yet. Your first tweets might be just simple messages to ease you in – what are you up to? What kind of event or activity might your intended followers find interesting, personable or quirky? You could let them know about an upcoming event, a thought about your research or teaching, or just show that you’re approachable and share common experiences. Don’t agonise over it though – Twitter is ephemeral in many ways!
As an extension activity, you might also be interested in downloading the Twitter App for your smartphone or tablet – there are apps for most platforms including iOS and Android. Try searching in the app store!