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Twitter for Researchers & Academics: Tips for IMPROVERS

Part of the Becoming a Networked Researcher Suite of workshops, run by the Library for the Researcher Development Team at the University of York.

This guide aimed at those in the Higher Education environment who already use Twitter but want to get more out of it.

It covers the kind of Content you might tweet, the Tone with which you might tweet it, making the most of your Account, some Logistical issues, and finally using statistical packages for Analysis.

Twitter for Researchers & Academics: Tips for IMPROVERS

  1. Twitter for Researchers and Academics Tips for IMPROVERS Ned Potter Academic Liaison
  2. Above all, remember it’s not about broadcasting, it’s about conversation!
  3. Above all, remember it’s not about broadcasting, it’s about conversation! This is Web 2.0. It’s interactive, participatory, and about positioning yourself as part of a dialogue. If you remember this rule, all the other rules in this guide can be broken.
  4. This guide covers Content, Tone, your Account, Logistics and Analysis.
  5. It is aimed at people in the academic environment who already use Twitter. If you’re brand new to the platform, read this introduction first.
  6. Content Part 1
  7. Don’t just make statements, ask questions. Content
  8. Content Tweet multimedia Pictures, videos, slideshows all appear within Twitter itself
  9. Consider the 1 in 4 rule* *actually it’s more of a guideline… Content
  10. Consider the 1 in 4 rule* 1 in 4 Tweets directly about you / your work *actually it’s more of a guideline… A ReTweet? A link to something useful?A reply? Content
  11. Embrace the smartphone! (Soon there will only BE smartphones so you may as well get started now.) Content
  12. Embrace the smartphone! (Soon there will only BE smartphones so you may as well get started now.) Imagine the people reading your Tweets are not just in your building, but on the train, in the supermarket queue, at conferences or events. Twitter doesn’t have to be something people MAKE TIME for. Content
  13. Hashtags 101 Content
  14. Content
  15. Content
  16. Content
  17. Capture the good stuff Twitter is ephemeral but you can archive Content
  18. Activity 1 Capturing a useful hashtag with Storify Content
  19. You can request your own archive Content
  20. Tone Part 2
  21. Try not to think of it as purely personal or purely professional – it works better when it’s both. (Personally I think it works well when you major in professional and minor in personal…) Tone
  22. Spell things correctly, don’t use text-speak, ensure proper grammar and syntax – but the tone is friendly and approachable. Tone
  23. Ultimately the tone on Twitter is roughly akin to how you would address your peers face-to-face (as opposed to in print). Are you friendly, irreverent, sarcastic, enthusiastic, irascible? That’s probably how you should be on Twitter, too. Tone
  24. Ultimately the tone on Twitter is roughly akin to how you would address your peers face-to-face (as opposed to in print). Are you friendly, irreverent, sarcastic, enthusiastic, irascible? That’s probably how you should be on Twitter, too. (Just don’t be unpleasant, as the written word can have a bigger and longer-lasting impact than what is spoken.) Tone
  25. Your Account Part 3
  26. Your profile is hugely important – it can both win and lose you opportunities. Use your bio to give people a reason to engage with you. Use the URL space to link your blog. And whatever you do, don’t leave the picture as the default ‘Twitter egg’ – people associate this with spam accounts and switch off instantly. Your Account
  27. Talking of spam… Asking for the occasional RT is fine (‘Please RT’ commonly results in 11 times as many RTs, ‘Please ReTweet’ results in 16 times as many) doing this too often is considered spammy. As is frequently trying to get influential tweeters to tweet links to your sites… Your Account
  28. Your Account Follower limit Keep in mind the maximum number of accounts you can follow is 2000, until you yourself have 2000 followers.
  29. Bio, blog link Following back Don’t be spammy Check hashtags Your Account You don’t HAVE to follow back. Although reciprocity is an important part of building a social network, don’t feel like you have to follow everyone who follows you. Above all Twitter has to be manageable and work FOR you.
  30. Your Account And if you DO have to follow back for political reasons… The mute button is your friend.
  31. Your Account Dealing with trolls Block > unblock Block Block and Report Lock
  32. To lock or not to lock your account? Advantages: Complete control over who sees your tweets Free reign to be critical or otherwise controversial Protection from the undesirable side of the internet Numbers of followers are not an end in themselves – a larger network doesn’t always equate to a more valuable one
  33. To lock or not to lock your account? Disadvantages: Will reduce the size of your network so you may miss out on interacting with useful or interesting people Prevents you from being ReTweeted, meaning you cannot reach additional audiences Your tweets cannot be seen by people who don’t follow you, even if addressed directly at them with an @ reply
  34. Logistics Part 4
  35. Logistics How often should you tweet? Targets can often backfire – tweet when you have something to say, and don’t when you don’t.
  36. That said, the more people tweet, the bigger their network.* Often the bigger their network, the more they get out of Twitter. Logistics *Usually. But there’s no guarantee here!
  37. Set up saved searches After any useful search, save it so it’s easily accessible next time you click the search box. Logistics
  38. Set up saved searches As well as searches for relevant topics, set up a search on pertinent URLs (for example your project page or blog) so you can see whenever anyone tweets about your work. Logistics
  39. Amazing things can happen from searching for your own URLs! Logistics
  40. Lists allow you to usefully ‘curate’ the people you follow For example, make lists of people who tweet about Your discipline Research in your area Impact factors Technology in HE Higher Education in general Local news Global news University news Whatever is relevant to you Logistics
  41. Consider a social media dashboard Twitter doesn’t have to be run from – something like Hootsuite may be useful as it allows you to view your timeline, mentions, direct messages, lists, searches etc, in real time, from one screen, and you can also manage other social media accounts here Logistics
  42. Activity 2: Saved Searches and Twitter Lists Logistics
  43. Analysis Part 5
  44. Analyse your Tweets There are a million and one Twitter stats packages online – choose the ones which give you information you can ACT on. E.G. use to check how often you’re replying and RTing, and WHEN you’re Tweeting… Analysis
  45. Twitter Analytics Allows you to see how many people actually see your tweets (a fraction of your followers) and compare how engaged your network is from month to month. Analysis
  46. It also shows you where your followers are from so you know if you need to adjust the times you tweet key info. Analysis
  47. Final Activity: analysing your own account with Twitonomy Analysis
  48. And don’t forget… You need to actually tell people you’re there. @username on your business cards on your PowerPoint presentations on your name-badge at conferences in your email signature
  49. Thanks for reading! More on ‘Becoming a Networked Researcher’ can be found at for/researchers/networked/ Follow the Library on Twitter: @UoYLibrary Picture credits are on the next two slides.
  50. Photos via Flickr Creative Commons (1) Twitter birds on a wire by MKH Marketing, at: s/l/in/photostream/ Birds in the sky by ,T.R.G, at: es/l/in/photostream/ Twitter bird in a cage by MKH Marketing, edited by us, original at: s/l/in/photostream/ Graduation, by j.o.h.n walker, at: 2/sizes/l/in/photostream/ Smily fruit by *Light Painting*, at: l/in/photostream/ Seminar room by Jonas_k, at: photostream/
  51. Photos via Flickr Creative Commons (2) Egg by JeffPoskanzer, at: Reciprocal roof by The Year of Mud, at: Homemade hashtag by Alexander Hugo TarTari, at: Blue padlock by Aff, at: otostream/ Question-mark cufflinks by Oberazzi, at: photostream/ Smartphone by Xrajis_, at: hotostream/ All Twitter icons, and the iPad icon, via All other pictures are copyright free and via Pixabay.