Twitter feeds provide a micro-byte of information, a short teaser meant to direct your audience toward your main content site. Using short snippets of information is a great way to lure visitors to learn more about your programs.
Take the time to learn how to use Twitter. Check out the Twitter basics FAQs offered on the Twitter site. Pay attention to the sections on following, finding people on Twitter, @ replies, direct messages and retweeting. There is a ton of good information in their FAQ section, which will help you make the most of your account.
It can't be said enough that Twitter content needs to be concise, relevant to your audience, and frequent. Ideas for things to post about include:
- your upcoming events
- links to reviews of past events
- links to related news articles
- retweet from other relevant Twitter accounts
- provide real-time coverage of an important event
- reply to people who have mentioned you
Saratoga Classic uses their Twitter account to provide real-time coverage of their competitions, tweeting the results of their shows as they happen. This allows audiences to really connect to the event, especially if they're not able to attend every day.
Fill out your profile and be accurate about the information you present. If you are an official Skidmore Twitter account, make sure to give a link to your Skidmore website and identify yourself clearly. There's a bio section that you can use to offer more information.
Learn the language. Twitter limits posts to 140 characters only; this means users have created their own lingo on the site. You can familiarize yourself with Twitter's glossary of terms, and below are a few of the most popular terms to know:
- @: used to call out usernames in tweets; for example Hello @SkidmoreCollege! When the username is preceded by the @ sign, it becomes a link to a Twitter profile
- Tweet: a message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or fewer.
- Retweet (or RT): the act of forwarding another user's tweets to all of your followers or vice versa
- Follower (or following): subscribing to a user's tweets
- Hashtag (or #): a symbol used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet
- Reply: a tweet posted in reply to another user's message, usually posted by clicking the "reply" button next to their tweet in your news feed.
- Mention: mentioning another user in your tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username. Also refers to tweets in which your username was included.
- Direct Message (or DM): private tweets between a sender and recipient.
- Trending Topic: a subject determined by an algorithm to be one of the most popular on Twitter at the moment.
Plan ahead and know what kinds of content you have available to you. Do you have activities every week that you can post about? If not, what can you offer in between posts about your specific topic? Post relevant content often!
Follow other relevant Twitter accounts. Search for business contacts, friends or other interest groups. Once you have linked to one Twitter account, check that list of followers and who they are following to see if there are other links you can be making. Remember, though, that that your friend/like list can be construed as an endorsement by Skidmore College. Know what types of accounts or individuals you want to follow and how that relates to the message you want to send to your audience and the Skidmore College audience in general. Click here for a list of Skidmore College Twitter accounts.
Create interest lists. Lists are a great way to "follow" many more Twitter accounts without cluttering up your main Twitter feed with a lot of things you may not want to read through on a daily basis. For example, the SkidmoreCollege Twitter account has created lists for local media, Saratoga community Twitterers, other official Skidmore Twitter accounts, alumni, and local colleges and universities, to name a few.
Link and sync your social media accounts. It can be great to only have to post an item once and it have fed into your various social media sites through synchronized accounts. Some of this depends on which accounts you have, and at what levels (login/locked posts, etc)—but it can be a time-saver.
Join the conversation with hashtags, and use them consistently. #Skidmore is the hashtag most commonly used by the Skidmore College Twitter account. Others include: #Saratoga (for relevant events and information about Saratoga Springs), and #Skid4Life (alumni pride). What search term will you choose? Make it short, and precise—and make sure it's not already in use!
Track your Twitter mentions. There's a search box on your Twitter home page, and you can save a search for your chosen hashtag(s). Check it daily, along with the link for @ replies. This helps you keep track of how your tweets are being used and retweeted and keeps you in communication with people who choose to mention you on Twitter.
Choose your abbreviations wisely. Most of them are going to wind up as search terms and hashtags, either for you or someone else. Make sure that your abbreviations are clear and meaningful, but don't have hidden meanings (such as WTF, which has an internet-meme meaning).
Avoid using "Internet speak." In personal Twitter accounts, people will use the letter "u" to substitute for the word "you" in order to save space in the limited amount of characters allowed. Avoid these abbreviations in official Twitter accounts; it can create a very unprofessional look.
Shorten your links with bit.ly. Twitter only gives you 140 characters, and that includes hashtags. Use bit.ly to shorten any web links you want to add to your tweet. bit.ly has the advantage that you can track some statistics from your links if you sign up for an account. There are other link-shortening services, such as TinyUrl, which don't have the tracking feature but don't require an account.
Measure your results. Who do you reach? Who are your fans? Who connects with your pages? Use bit.ly to keep track of the analytics for your links, and monitor the "followers" list for your account. How does it change from week to week? Consider following those people in return, if it's appropriate.