Twitter only allows you to send 280 characters, which doesn’t seem much! In academia, we almost always write at length about complex ideas, so it’s difficult to say something meaningful in such a short amount of text. But 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. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from academic tweeters and see what kinds of information they share, to get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 280 characters.
The appropriate tone for a professional Twitter account needn’t be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. In fact, you’ll have to be a bit informal if you want to fit everything in, using abbreviations and even textspeak! Even if you’re tweeting on behalf of a department or group, you need to be engaging rather than formal.
Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that your tweets can be kept by others, even if you delete them (more on this on Day 10). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context!
Some examples of what you might tweet about:
- an interesting article you’re reading, or a book you recommend
- an online resource you’ve stumbled across
- a conference or other academic event 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
- advice, tips or insights into how you teach or research for students or other colleagues
- your thoughts on a 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
Sending a tweet is really easy – instructions vary slightly, depending on the device you’re using:
- Type your Tweet into the compose box at the top of your Home timeline, or click the Tweet button in the top navigation bar.
- Click the Tweet button to post the Tweet to your profile.
- Tap the Tweet compose icon (the feather quill)
- Compose your message and tap Tweet.
- Tap on the Tweet compose icon
- Enter your message, and then tap Tweet.
- A notification will appear in the status bar on your device and will go away once the Tweet successfully sends.
Remember – you’re only able to write 280 characters (including spaces), and there’s a small counter below the text box which tells you how many characters you have left. (It will stop you once you go over and 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.
This bit is important! For this second Day of Twitter, as your first message, please send the following tweet – we’ll explain why later!
Joining in #UoB10DoT with @bedsCLE
Over the next week, we’ll be sending a variety of types of tweets. For today, though, once you’ve sent your first message, just send a few of the same type of tweet over the course of the day, using the examples above. You should include the hashtag #UoB10DoT in your tweets so that we can track activity.
Your first tweets should convey a simple message – 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 they were unaware of or might also be present at, a thought about your research or work that’s just occurred to you, or just show that you’re approachable and share common experiences. Don’t agonise over it though – Twitter is ephemeral in many ways!
If you’re thinking of tweeting in an official capacity for your research group or department, then 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!).
This presentation from Library Marketing Toolkit has some good tips:
So – send a few tweets, now and perhaps throughout the day, following the suggestion no. 1 from the list above! Make sure that when people check out your profile from yesterday, there’s some interesting and engaging content there. Watch for tweets from us at @bedsCLE and tweet back!
And remember to tweet Joining in #UoB10DoT with @bedsCLE !