If there is a bandwagon higher ed marketing professionals should be jumping on these days, it’s Twitter. An unquestionable phenomenon, Twitter seamlessly connects you to people around the world and is, without a doubt, the best way to stay up-to-date on trends and news. The problem with Twitter, though, is it’s almost a foreign language to anyone who has managed to stay away from it for so long. That’s where we come in.
Here’s your 101 course in Twitter to get you up and running in 10 steps!
- Your handle. A handle is simply a fancy name for what you want to be called on Twitter. Normally, someone will go with @firstnamelastname or some iteration of that (@firstnamelastinitial). For myself, I chose @megancgibbs. Choosing a name that shows who you are without drawing negative attention to yourself is crucial.
- Your profile picture. I suggest uploading the same picture you have on your other public social media accounts (particularly LinkedIn). People without profile pictures tend to have fewer followers, less interaction with others, and are known in Twitter world as untrustworthy accounts.
- Your bio. This is a short blurb about who you are, but as always with Twitter, there’s a character limit. Generally, professionals using Twitter for personal and professional will say where they work, what they do, and a few things that interest them, although there is no set formula. For me, I chose to go with just that:Senior Editor/Scholarship Manager for @WGOH & @CarnegieComm | Blogger for @CollegeXpress | Fanatic of all things TV, social media, and comedy.
Being concise is critical to a good bio. No one wants to guess who you are and your authenticity to whatever you are Tweeting about. Also, have fun with it and show some personality! Nowhere in Twitter rules and regulations does it say you have to be all professional talk all the time.
- Privacy. If you prefer to have all of your Tweets private, click over to security and privacy and check the “protect my Tweets” button. You’ll receive an e-mail anytime someone would like to follow you, and from there you can approve them to see your Tweets. Note: anyone can see your bio and profile pic even if you have set your account to private.
The Twitter feed
- Who to follow. Based on information you put in while setting up your account, Twitter will set up a few suggestions of people for you to follow. This can range from celebrities to people you may know. Click on the follow button next to the name, and their Tweets will be added to your feed.Questions you may have:
- Where’s my Twitter feed? Click the “home” button on the top left hand side of the header.
- Where do I find more people to follow? Check the left side of your feed and click “view all” next to “Who to follow.” This list is a group of people based on the people you are already following, who they are following. You can also click on “popular accounts” in that same “Who to follow” box. This will take you to a large group of interests you can check out and some of the top suggestions from celebs, athletics, technology, and more.
- How do I find specific people based on one of my interests? Jump into the search box and type in what you’re looking for. You’ll be given a news feed of people talking about your subject and a list of people who have proven to have some knowledge in that area. Try typing in “higher ed” or “marketing” and see who you find and maybe join a conversation!
- Followers. These are the people who want to hear what you have to say and want to interact with you. Anytime you Tweet something, it will show up on their Twitter feeds.Remember: Twitter is more or less a free-for-all if you aren’t protecting your Tweets. If someone follows you, you don’t have to follow them back and vice versa. Normally though, someone is following you because they like what you have to say. Check out their bio and their Tweets to make sure they are the real deal and give them a follow back if they look interesting.
- 140 characters. This is definitely something to get used to if you are a long-winded writer. You have to get your point out, most of the time also with a link, in less than 140 characters. If you go longer, you’re unable to Tweet and will have to start getting creative in your copy. It’s all about being concise without totally butchering the English language!
- Sending a Tweet. On your home feed page, you’ll see in the left-hand column a box where it says “Compose new Tweet . . . ” Here, you will craft your masterpieces. There are a few types of Tweets:
- To another person. Have a friend, company, or client you want to share information with? All you need to do is include their @ handle:Hey @CarnegieComm! I saw your Twitter 101 article and thought it was great. Can’t wait for the 201!
- Have a thought you’d like to share to the world? Go for it:Take a look at @chronicle’s chart of how much support for public higher ed has declined over the last quarter century: http://chronicle.com
- ReTweets (RT), favorites, and replies. You’ll notice on every Tweet sent out, there are Reply, Retweet, and Favorite buttons:
- Replies. Have something you want to say about a Tweet someone sent out? Hit reply and their handle will appear in a text box ready for you to Tweet back to them.
- Retweets or RT. If you love what someone Tweeted, a RT allows you to copy that Tweet (still credited to the person) and have it appear on your own timeline for your followers to see.
- Favorite. Favorites are a way to send silent nods to those who Tweeted something that really resonated with you or to simply bookmark something to read a little later on. To find your favorites, click on the “me” button in the Twitter header and then click “favorites” from the list of choices on the left-hand column.
- A question you might have: Who is interacting with me? Click the notifications link on the Twitter header and it will list out everyone who has replied, mentioned, RTed, or favorited something you’ve said.
- The Hashtag. If you haven’t noticed, the hashtag has taken over. While it’s really fun social speak (#youcanhashtaganything), at its basic level, it’s a way to search for things on Twitter easily and connect with those who have the same interests.Creating a hashtagged word will create a hyperlink. If you click on any hashtagged word, it will take you to another feed of only people who are using that hashtag. The best part is that there are no rules when it comes to the hashtag, which makes it really fun to use.
Tip: when you do a search, the Tweets/users shown in that feed will be the “top Tweets/users” talking about your subject. If you click “all” underneath where it says “results for [your search],” you’ll see every Tweet sent out mentioning your topic.
For more #Hashtag info, check out my Hashtag University post.
That’s it! Take a little time to get your profile set up and follow a few people to see real-time Tweets in action. I think you’ll find that it can be incredibly addicting. And of course, if you need help, Tweet me @megancgibbs!
Key Twitter Language
RT = Retweet
MT = Modified Tweet
If you have something to say in addition to the Tweet you’re RTing, but have to fix the original Tweet so it fits into 140 characters, you’ll put a “MT” instead of an “RT” at the beginning of the original Tweet.
HT or H/T = Hat tip
If someone just blew your mind with a Tweet of theirs, you can send a nod their way.
#FF = Follow Friday
If a bunch of people followed you over the course of the week or were really engaged with what you had to say, you can send them a nice shout out on Friday (no idea why it’s Friday, but it has become a Twitter staple). It’s also a great way to recommend to your own followers other people you enjoy following.
Example with a little MT action thrown in:
#TBT = Throwback Thursday
Not the most “business practical” thing on Twitter, but you’ll sure see a lot of it come Thursday. This just means someone is posting a picture from “back in the day.” Really fun to click through Tweets with this in them, if nothing but as a source of a few laughs!
DM = Direct Message
If you want to connect with someone “off Twitter,” you can do so by DMing each other. It’s simply a private message area and can be found in the envelope button next to the search bar. As always, there is a character limit to these messages as well!
Created solely around a pre-determined hashtag for people with specific interests. To join conversations, you simply use the appropriate hashtag (see below for some to follow) and you’ll be able to ask questions, answer questions, add insight, and more to everyone following that hashtag.
Tip: use a different tab on your browser if you’re joining a chat. This way you will only see Tweets related to the chat instead of your whole Twitter feed so you won’t be confused.
Education and marketing handles to follow:
Hashtags to follow:
#EMchat, Thursdays at 9pm EST
#HigherEdChat, Wednesdays at 4pm EST
#EdChat, general/no specific time
#HEmkting, general/no specific time
To see a full list check out the Twitter Directory.
Please comment below with other handles and hashtags that education recruitment and marekting professionals should keep an eye on.