3 tips for better tweets

'What matters more than how many followers you have is how connected you are to your followers'

When using Twitter, higher education leaders should focus on driving conversations and building relationships, not simply amassing followers, one expert argues. 

Colleges and universities across the country are using Twitter as a means of sharing information, building their brands, and connecting with members of the campus community. But too often, higher ed leaders view Twitter as a numbers game, says Joshua Kim, the director of digital learning initiatives at Dartmouth College's Center for the Advancement of Learning.

"Good higher ed use of Twitter has nothing to do with how many followers that you have," Kim says. "What matters more than how many followers you have is how connected you are to your followers." 

The schools with the best social media accounts

According to Kim, the most successful Twitter users in higher ed do the following:

Treat Twitter as a conversation

Tweets should be viewed as part of a greater discussion, not one-sided posts, according to Kim. 

"Twitter connects people with people in the context of disciplines, ideas, and shared professional objectives," Kim says.

Continuously share valuable content 

The best Twitter users make use of all opportunities to share useful information with their professional networks.

"Higher ed people go crazy with Twitter at conferences, gatherings, and convenings," Kim says. "Sometimes it feels as if the real meeting is happening on Twitter. The sessions are an excuse for a hashtag."

Use an authentic voice

Make tweets sound natural, not forced. Go ahead, Kim encourages Twitter users, express your opinions. Just be sure to back them up with evidence.

Kim acknowledges there's much more to consider when using Twitter. He encourages readers to think through the following questions when planning their social media use:

  • Are active Twitter users more likely to convene, or does convening make people better Twitter users?
  • Are colleges only using Twitter because of pressure to compete with other institutions?
  • How does Twitter compare to other social media channels for driving engagement?
  • How would better advertising and data mining efforts affect how institutions use Twitter for outreach?
  • If Twitter were to disappear, how would colleges' communications and outreach strategies be affected?
  • Is it possible for higher ed leaders to obtain information on the return on investment of using Twitter as an institutional communications platform?
  • What would be the tipping point for higher ed leaders to stop using Twitter?
  • Why do higher ed leaders tweet more when they are off campus?

(Conlan, EdTech, 7/5; Kim, Inside Higher Ed, 6/22). 

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