Twitter Tips for Higher Education… Notes on DIOSA Recommendations
At the start of the post I asked a simple question: How many do you agree with? And added the note that I was fine with all of them except #5.
The post prompted several RTs and responses and it was quickly obvious that the 144 character limitation of Twitter inhibited anything resembling serious comment. The result? A promise to Brad Ward to elaborate on the list in a blog post. Brad, by the way, disagreed with #’s 2,5,7, and 10.
Never, I’ve no doubt, shall everyone agree on everything on this list or any other.
Without further ado, some notes on Heather’s 10 tips. Read her reasons for each point at the DIOSA website.
1. Authenticity before marketing. Have personality. Build community.
- Just about everyone will agree with this one. “Reality marketing” still prevails and that’s especially true at any social media site. People will resist a traditional marketing and public relations approach. Convey events and experiences and real stories and people who are interested in you will follow along.
2. Don’t use Twitter for RSS or publish “News” unless you call your Twitter profile “News”.
I don’t have a strong feeling about this one. Do agree that Twitter sites set up just to publish news events should make that clear in the name just to make it easier to sort things out.
3. Have many Twitter accounts!
Not sure about the definition of “many,” but for large institutions this is esssential and even small schools can benefit from specialized Twitter accounts for athletics and admissions. It makes good marketing sense to plan for specialized Twitter accounts even if initial staffing only allows one at the start, especially as the frequency of tweets increases.
4. Be nice. Be thankful. Reply and Retweet!
Here’s another that should get unanimous support. Pay attention to who RTs your material and take time to thank them. Send a personal “thank you” to most new followers. (And if they seem like spammers, don’t hesitate to block them.) RT when someone posts something of interest, remembering that the life of a typical tweet is brief and an RT a bit later gives more people the chance to see the original item.
5. Follow everyone who follows you.
Heather and I have disagreed about this one before. For my own professional Twitter account, I feel no obligation to follow every follower. Instead, I review a person’s tweets and follow those that interest me. When they are primarily personal, I don’t follow. Similarly, I don’t expect everyone I follow to follow me. If they aren’t interested in higher education marketing, why should they?
Things might be a bit different with some higher education accounts. A Twitter site for alumni, for instance, might well want to follow all or most people who join and are obviously alumni. Still, I’ve trouble making this a hard and fast rule. Review each new follower and make an individual decision.
6. Use “Favorites” to organize the chaos and feature your most important Tweets!
Indeed, this is a necessity if you are following many people. And whether or not you decide to follow everyone, your list is likely to grow and therefore the daily tweets received is going to grow. Best to take special note of those that are most important to you.
7. Don’t tweet about your coffee (unless it is fair trade), the weather, or how tired you are. Provide value to your followers, not chit-chat!
For “official” sites, I agree with this. While personal comments related to professional subjects are fine, I’d err on the side of caution about blending comments that are OK for “personal” Twitter sites with your official admissions or athletics or alumni site.
Yes, there is a “social” in social media but Twitter still suffers among many people from the early (and often accurate) impression that it was a place for people to post way too much information about trivial daily events. Even when the events don’t seem trivial to you, stop and think about how much your readers want to know about your personal life.
8. Don’t only Tweet your own content.
Another good suggestion. On an admissions site, for instance, include links to content at other locations about financial aid, career opportunities, admission tips, or just about anything else that you know will interest your followers. Strive for a reputation as a source for valuable information that benefits people who follow you.
This also increases the chances that your followers will RT your tweets. That will help you gain more followers who value what you do.
9. Send messages, but not via auto-responders.
Absolutely. This links right back to #1. ‘Nuff said.
10. Limit your Tweets to 5 per day, and no more than 6!
Heather has interesting survey results to support this one. While I don’t tend to be a fan of absolutes, I do think that you should be careful of sending too many messages just for the sake of sending them.
Most days, strive for a minimum of about 4 to 5 posts. And if you scatter them throughout the day, more people are likely to see at least one of them.
Track the popularity of posts with links by using a service like Bit.ly that lets you easily see how many followers are clicking on the links you include. Watch trends and think seriously about not posting often on items that receive less than normal attention from your readers. Easy marketing research.
That’s all for now.