Twitter is very easy to use and set up. The main thing to remember about Twitter is shorter is always sweeter. This goes for your posts (140 characters), your links, and even your Twitter user name.
- Visit Twitter.com to begin the process. You will need to provide a full name, email and password. If you have a department or office email account where multiple people receive messages, use that.
- Choose a user name. Shorter is better. PomonaEnglish would be better than PomonaEnglishDepartment or PomonaCollegeEnglish. When users click on your account, they will be able to see more information about your department or office, so do not worry about the brevity. Your first choice may already be taken so come up with a few ideas.
- Choose people to follow…or not. Twitter will lead you through a menu to have you find people to follow. You can skip these steps, as you can easily find people to follow later.
- Upload your thumbnail image. Use the same image you have on your Facebook. Brand consistency is important in social media. Make sure the image is smaller than 700K. If you need help resizing your image, contact the Communications Office.
- Describe your office or department. You only have 160 characters. Make sure you mention you are part of Pomona College.
Learn the Lingo
Twitter is easy to use but there is some simple vocabulary that, if you learn it, will make your experience more fun.
- Stream - This is the flow of tweets you see from the accounts you follow.
- Followers - These are the people who follow your Twitter account. Your posts will show up in their stream.
- @ sign - Use this to reference and link to another account. Example: "What's up, @pomonacollege?"
- RT - Retweeting means you are sharing another account's tweet. You can do this through the official RT function on Twitter, which will show the original tweet in your followers' stream with a small notification below it ("Retweeted by Pomona College"). Or, you can cut-and-paste the tweet yourself, so it shows it as coming from your account, and add RT to the beginning.
- MT - Modified tweets (MT) are like cut-and-paste retweets, but you are letting people know that you slightly changed the contents (usually to meet the character count restrictions).
- Reply - When you click reply on someone's tweet, Twitter will only show your reply to people who follow both you and recipient. It will also save it as a conversation thread, so you can view it that way. If you place a period before the recipient's name, then everyone who follows you can see your reply. Example: Replying "@pomonacollege, you rock" will only appear in your and Pomona Colleges followers' streams. If you want all your followers to see it, type ".@pomonacollege , you rock."
- Hashtags - Hashtags are a way of referencing tweets by subject. To create or use a hashtag, just put # before a word or phrase. That hashtag will become a link that you can click on to see what other Twitter users are saying about that subject. Example: "Have you read the latest #immigration op-ed in the @NewYorkTimes by Bill Keller '70?"
- Trending - On the main Twitter page, where you view your stream, Twitter will show you what is "trending," meaning hashtags and topics that are currently gaining popularity.
- Lists - You can group together Twitter accounts under one list. People can then subscribe to that list if they wish, or you can just use it to just read the tweets of the list members. For example, we have a list of Pomona College-related feeds here:https://twitter.com/#!/pomonacollege/pomona-college.
- DM - Direct messages (DM) are a way of privately communicating with Twitter users. The 140-character count is still in play. Some Twitter users will not allow DMs from accounts they do not follow. And remember, just because it seems private, someone can still screencap and share it.
Of course there is much more you can do to maximize your Twitter account. Here are some next steps:
Load a Background Image
Visit the top of your screen and look for the silhouette of a person. Click on it and select "settings" and then "design." At the bottom of this page, you can customize your theme with an image, which can vary in size and can be tiled. You can also change the color of your background (what shows around your image if you don't tile it) and links.
The reason a background image size can vary is it really depends on the size of your viewers' screens, which can vary widely, from phones and iPads to 27-inch monitors. Be creative and check the way your image looks on more than one device.
Add Your Twitter Feed to Your Website
It is easy to add your recent tweets to your department or office website that is run through our content management system, like we have done above. Ask Laura Tiffany to assist you.
Explore Services Like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite
These services can help you schedule your tweets in advance (useful for promoting events); follow certain hashtags, lists or saved searches in one easy-to-read web panel; and manage multiple accounts. You can also install a Twitter app on your smartphone so you can quickly tweet on the go or post photos from events.
Decide How You'll Shorten Links and Post Photos
When posting links on Twitter, the service will automatically shorten them. You can also post photos easily using just Twitter. But you can also choose to use services like bit.ly and goog.l, which will track how many people click on your links, or post photos using Facebook or Instagram and then link those photos on Twitter, which broadens your social media reach. Services like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite also offer their own linking, stats and photo-uploading services. Since you don't really need to go outside of Twitter for these things, this is a reminder that there are other services that might improve your Twitter experience.
Follow Other Twitter Accounts
The way to get people to follow you is to follow others first. It is also a fun way to join the Twitter conversation! Start with Pomona College accounts. Then, see if there are other institutions, organizations or people who are involved in your area of interest. Ask students to follow you and follow them back. You don't need to follow back every account that follows you (and some are inevitably spam), but by at least checking your followers, you may find some interesting people to interact with on Twitter.
Be Careful What You Post
You cannot edit a tweet. You can delete it, but anyone who has already read it has already seen it. And if it's incendiary or factually wrong, there's the chance they've screen-capped it. So while you can be loose with your spelling and grammar on Twitter to meet that 140-character limit, you do want to be tight with your facts and polite to other Twitter users and individuals, giving credit or thanks where it's due, and never slinging personal insults.
Dig In and Have Fun
Twitter, as compared to Facebook, blogs or a regular website, is a fleeting and fun environment. Your message enters a continual flow of information, and you can post several times a day without wearying your followers. (Though it is a good idea to space out your posts so you don't flood their stream.)
It's a great place to show your sense of fun, share the latest news in your subject area, promote department events, compliment a colleague (even if you don't know them personally) on a success, or share photos from a department party, field trip or event.