Managing Your Project’s Twitter Account

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September 2013
From NICHCY’s Quick Tips for Disseminators series

 

Tweet Happenstwitter

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that organizations that disseminate information and resources can no longer avoid Twitter. With over 200 million active users, Twitter’s micro-blogging platform is quickly becoming the most timely and topic-specific platform for information dissemination.

Managing your project’s Twitter account doesn’t need to be a full-time job, though. If you develop some guidelines and habits, tweeting can fit into your daily communication practices.

There are many helpful “tips for beginners” floating around the web.  We’ve found that projects new to social media often look for help figuring out the logistics of tweeting:

  • who does it,
  • when, and
  • how often?

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions.

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Recognize that this is a public space

You’re on! | Much like your website, your Twitter profile is often the first impression you make on new clients. Maintain awareness that what you share on Twitter is public.

Who? | When deciding who will manage your Twitter, select a team member who is both knowledgeable about your content and a good communicator.

How will you say…? | You might also spend a little time as a team developing your project’s voice. For example, come up with some reusable phrases such as “New resource for X” or “Looking for information on Y?”

Be useful | Oh, and always Tweet something useful – unless you’re the Secretary of Education, your thoughts or opinions are NOT appropriate for sharing on a project Twitter account.

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Think before you speak

Have a plan | A little planning goes a long way on social media— and a Twitter account without a plan goes nowhere. What types of resources or information do you want to share? What information do your audiences need? Can you have a theme of the week or the month, featuring certain kinds of resources?

Have a social media policy | It’s also good practice to develop a social media policy to guide your activities. This lets your visitors know what type of posts you’ll be making and what types of responses (from them) are acceptable (or not!). NICHCY offers ours as a starting point; it’s probably much more detailed than you’ll need, so feel free to adapt it: http://nichcy.org/blog/nichcy-social-media-policy

We all get by with a little help from our friends | Twitter is a social medium – you need friends to make it work! Before you send your first tweet, find out who is already tweeting on your topic and follow them to learn (even if they’re the competition). Also follow trusted partners to develop your network. We’re happy to help other projects via our @NICHCY and @DissemCoP accounts by following you and recommending you to our followers on #FollowFriday. We’re also pleased to re-tweet your posts.

Raid your own website | You have a great website, right? Full of information for your very audiences? Make your tweeter’s life easier by creating planning documents of good resources from your website to share, plus framing text for the tweets and hashtags.

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Tweet the way you eat

Tweet often | Simply tweeting out new resources as they are released won’t establish your project as a presence on Twitter. Research has shown that tweeting from 2-5 times per day has the best impact on how frequently you’re re-tweeted.  We suggest that you tweet at least once per day. You might simply work your way through your website, tweeting a page or resource at a time. If you have a Share button on your site, that makes it even easier!

Make Twitter a habit | If you’re going to be successful, you need to create a habit of tweeting (and re-tweeting good content from trusted sources). Fold it into your usual communication routines. Each time you check your usual information channels, include Twitter. Some people might do this at the beginning, middle, and end of the day (like breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Others may “snack” throughout the day, checking email and news sources after each activity or meeting. However you consume information, simply add in a few minutes on Twitter each time. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll find that the benefits far outweigh the small amount of effort needed.

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Additional Resources

Twitter Tips for Beginners:  http://goinswriter.com/twitter-tips-for-beginners/

Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags in Education: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/the-complete-guide-to-twitter-hashtags-in-education/

The Ultimate Guide To Using Twitter In Education:  http://edudemic.com/2011/09/twitter-in-education/

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Would you like to visit another page in the Quick Tips for Disseminators series?

Social Media: What Works for Which Audiences?

Google Plus for Collaboration

Use Social Media to Drive Website Traffic

Managing Your Project’s Twitter Account (You’re already here)

The Future is Mobile!

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NOTICE: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is no longer in operation. Our funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) ended on September 30, 2013. Our website and all its free resources will remain available until September 30, 2014.