Social Media Handbook
Appendix D: Creating a Twitter Profile
With its 140-character updates, Twitter is a great way to get timely information out to your audiences. More importantly, with 75 millions users, it’s an excellent way to engage with and hear from those with similar interests. New to Twitter? Check out this Twitter Bootcamp.
Before creating a Twitter account:
- Make sure there isn’t already an account for your department or group.
- Consider using a larger umbrella group to get your message out. For example, rather than creating a Twitter account for Electrical Engineering, talk with the School of Engineering about having them tweet your messages. You’ll reach a much larger audience.
- When choosing your Username, remember that this will become part of your Twitter address and also will be how you are identified when tweeting and responding to tweets. Choose a username that clearly identifies your department or program. Examples: VanderbiltEnglish; VanderbiltEngineering, etc.
- For email, use a group mailbox that several members of your department or program can check if possible, rather than your personal email address, or create a gmail address.
- Include a brief descriptive text about your department or program, and a link to your Web site. Consider including your personal Twitter handle, so that your followers will know who does the tweeting for that account. A name helps to personalize the account.
- For picture, the university has created a family of icons that can be used and adapted for individual schools, colleges and programs – please contact the Office of University Web Communications for assistance in customizing those icons. If you do not wish to use these icons and wish to use the Vanderbilt logo or any variation of it, contact Maggie Huckaba in the Office of Trademark Licensing at 3-7292 or Maggie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Before you start tweeting, build the list of those you will be following. Seek out other Vanderbilt accounts, other accounts for people and programs in your field, and others who are tweeting about keywords that are relevant to your interests. Read, retweet and respond to these tweets to begin building your online network.
- Start tweeting! Remember, Twitter is a conversation, not a megaphone. Use yours not only to share interesting news and information about your program, but to share news from other sources, to respond to and ask questions and to get to know your audiences better.
- Get our attention: If you’d like the main Vanderbilt account to see your tweet, @ us – include @VanderbiltU in your tweet. When sharing images, tag them #vandygram.
- Consider using an app. There are many free online applications that make updating and monitoring your Twitter presence much easier. Check out TweetDeck, Tweetie, HootSuite for starters.
- There are some standards actions / conventions in Twitter with which you should become familiar:
- Reply – Reply to someone else’s tweet. Your reply will also show up on your Twitter.
- Retweet – One of the best ways to engage with the community on Twitter. Retweeting means you are sharing someone else’s tweet on your Twitter. A retweet is formatted by adding RT in front of the @ sign and the other person’s user name, followed by the original content of their tweet. Example: RT @barcablog: national media reacts to Vandy’s win – http://vucommodores.blogspot.com/2010/01/national-media-reacts-to-vus-win.html
- URL shortener: URL shorteners are free online services that take a long URL and reduce it to just a few characters – and are highly important when you’re limited to just 140 characters. Examples are bit.ly and ow.ly and tinyurl.
- Hashtags: Hashtags are keywords added to a post prefaced by the # symbol. Readers can click on or search for hashtag terms to read tweets just about that topic.