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Short and Sweet Twitter Tips

Who tweets for work? Hands up! Here in News Services we do also—that’s why the Bulletin attended a session last week hosted by the Office of Information Technology on how to tweet on behalf of the university.

The OIT workshop attracted 30 communicators, staff and professors from various departments and colleges. John Martin, technical communicator, says Twitter allows us to share real-time information on what people see as important. He says often people tweet on mundane topics—such as what they had for breakfast. But if you engage your audience by tweeting on intelligent and important topics, you can gain some real traction. Here are some other gems offered:

Consider your audience, context and purpose

Before tweeting, determine your purpose—is it attracting event attendees, highlighting industry news or your department’s achievements? Having a purpose helps scope your tweets and set your subscribers’ expectations. Martin suggests using your purposes as a checklist. Don’t tweet about the weather, for example, but do tweet about relevant industry news and our upcoming workshops. “If the tweet does not fall within your purposes, don’t tweet it,” he says.

Tweet often

Martin suggests tweeting daily throughout the week, several times a day. Also, respond to people who reply, follow you or make you a favorite. Retweet in different ways and at different times. One attendee asked whether this was spamming but Martin doesn’t think so. “If information is presented differently, then it’s OK.”

Have metrics

Measure on how well Twitter is performing as a stand-alone method, and as part of a larger communication plan. OIT uses as its data source. Also, keep track of the number of followers, mentions, retweets, replies and whether your tweet has been selected as a favorite.

Always be civil

If a tweet appears antagonistic, write a civil exchange then, if the exchange deteriorates, try taking it offline.


Determine who is already tweeting for your department or organization so there is no overlap. Adhere to the university brand guidelines and editorial guidelines.

Be responsive

If someone asks a question via Twitter, respond. If you post something incorrect, then remove the tweet and/or admit the mistake. For example, “Update. I misspoke. Here’s the correct announcement.”

Read up on Twitter

Wonderful resources exist online on how to tweet succinctly, clearly and well.  For instance, experts suggest keeping hashtags to a minimum, one or two per tweet. Seven hashtags per tweet can be read as a desperate marketing ploy. And tweet as you would speak normally. Experts from Mashable, the popular social media news website, say the best executives on Twitter use a conversational tone. Occasionally share personal victories, challenges or failures. Your followers will relate more.

Martin recommends the following resources for more information: