24 Apr 2012

100 Serious Twitter Tips for Academics



By Best Colleges Online Blog
Twitter may have started off as a fun social media site for keeping up with friends and sharing updates about daily life, but it’s become much more than that for many users over the past few years as the site has evolved and grown. These days, Twitter is a powerhouse for marketing, communication, business, and even education, letting people from around the world work together, share ideas, and gain exposure. It has become a staple at many online colleges and campuses as well, leaving many academics wondering just how and if they should be using Twitter both in the classroom and in their professional lives. So we’ve revised our our original 2009 list to get you started or up to date. Whether you’re an academic or just interested in building your Twitter profile, keep reading to learn some tips and tricks that can help you take the first steps towards using Twitter for coursework, research, building a professional network, and beyond.

The Basics

You have to start somewhere and these tips will help ensure that your first foray in Twitter is a great experience.

  1. Organize your Twitter. Twitter has made it simple to keep things organized and makes looking through tweets a breeze. How? With the lists feature that lets you organize those you’re following into different groups.
  2. Flesh out your bio. You’ll get more mileage out of your Twitter account if you actually create a profile that says something about you, offering potential followers information about your interests, professional or otherwise.
  3. Educate yourself on the basics. Learn the basic terminology for Twitter and the major functions it can perform by doing a little reading on helpful social media blogs beforehand. You’ll thank yourself later.
  4. Link to your blog. If you’re the type of academic that loves blogging (and who doesn’t these days?) then make sure your posts are getting the exposure they deserve by sharing them through Twitter. Include a link to your blog in your bio, too.
  5. Avoid rookie mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes on Twitter, but there’s no sense in making dumb ones that you could easily have learned to avoid with a little reading and research. Check out this list of common newbie errors to help you.
  6. Create separate accounts. If you plan to use Twitter for your classes, yourself, or just for fun, you’ll probably need separate accounts to keep everything straight and to ensure that each is focused on just one topic.
  7. Learn how to use hashtags. It’s pretty much impossible to have not seen the hashtags that have been plastered on, well, everything in the past few years. But do you really know how to use them? A quick lesson can help you learn the ropes.
  8. Choose a recognizable Twitter handle. You want people to be able to find you on Twitter, right? So choose a handle that they’d associate with you, usually something close to your name, your blog, or your profession will work best. Get some pointers on choosing a username from this guide.
  9. Develop a tweeting style. Before you send out your first tweet, decide what kind of tweeter you want to be. The London School of Economics and Political Science offers up three major styles here so you can learn more about the subject.
  10. Stick to a core topic. Ideally, you want to keep your Twitter account pretty focused on a single topic, whether it’s your class, your professional work, or even just stupid things you find on the Internet. The more focused it is, the more useful it will be to both you and your followers.
  11. Learn from others. One of the best ways to learn how to use Twitter is to spend some time seeing how others have set up and been using their accounts. Luckily, there are tons of other academics on Twitter to learn from.
  12. Learn WHY Twitter is such a valuable tool. So you’ve got a Twitter account set up, so what? Take the time to learn why Twitter can be such a useful tool for education and for academics. You might be surprised.

Etiquette

The Internet may be a virtual Wild West but there are some unspoken rules of engagement you should know before adding your two cents into the mix.

  1. Keep private conversations private. If a conversation starts out private, it should stay that way. Don’t bring DMs into the public forum, at least not without permission; it’s just not polite.
  2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The Internet is full of people who are all too happy to say some pretty harsh things, but just because they’re incredibly tactless doesn’t mean you have to be. Never say anything on Twitter you wouldn’t want people to find out about, or wouldn’t say in any other situation. If people are hassling you, ignore them and move on.
  3. Always credit your sources. If you find a great gem on Twitter, don’t just copy and paste. Always make it clear that you’re retweeting someone else’s material. Not doing so isn’t just rude, it could also get your Twitter account suspended.
  4. Don’t be spammy. A big part of Twitter is self-promotion, but everything you tweet shouldn’t be aimed at getting people to buy into what you’re selling. Forgetting this can make it hard to get and keep followers.
  5. Let your followers know when you’re participating in a chat or conference. If you’re going to be tweeting more than usual, let your followers know in advance so they can choose to tune out if they’re not interested in your live tweeting or chatting.
  6. Understand that following isn’t obligatory. If someone follows you, you’re not obligated to follow them back. The opposite is true as well, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t follow you even though you’re following them.
  7. Don’t abuse Twitter handles. Don’t tag someone in a tweet just to get their attention and hope to earn a follow. Only tag others with relevant tweets or to start a conversation.
  8. Respond in a timely manner. If someone asks you a question or directs a tweet your way, respond as soon as you can, just like with email or any other digital communication, especially if you’re using Twitter in your courses.
  9. Say thanks. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way on Twitter. If someone helps you out or shares your research, don’t forget to say thanks.
  10. Manage your online reputation. As a professional, you’ll need to be careful about using social media. Keep a close watch on your online reputation and take action when needed.
  11. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. No one is perfect, and if you’re new to Twitter you’re probably going to have a few gaffes along the way as you learn the ropes. That’s OK! Don’t let it slow your enthusiasm for using the social site.

Connecting

They don’t call it a social network just for fun. Twitter, like other online networks, requires connecting with others to really be effective. Here, you’ll find some tips that will help you branch out.
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  1. Ask questions. One of the best ways to connect with students and other academics on Twitter is by asking open-ended questions in your feed. You’ll start conversations and get people thinking, sharing, and connecting.
  2. Keep your tweets under 140 characters. Twitter already forces you to be succinct, but you should keep things under the limit for a reason: when you shorten your tweets, it leaves room for others to chime in and retweet.

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