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What is Twitter?

 

Twiiter is an online social networking platform that allows people to post short 140 character statements that appear in reverse chronological order on their timeline (latest posts first). You can tweet pictures, videos and links (see: how to add photos, videos and links). The beauty of Twitter is that it's fast. If you don't have time to blog about something, you probably do have time to write a short sentence about it instead.

How can Twitter be used?

  • To get targeted news of particular relevance to you (i.e. about other research labs, people's new publications, blog posts, policy news, live tweets from conferences you couldn't attend etc). 
  • To promote your work and research
  • To inform others
  • To recruit students (i.e. by advertising open days, courses or scholarships)
  • To vet job candidates

Twitter (and other social media sites) are used to screen job candidates at a very early stage of the process for personality profiling (1). Remember, once a tweet has been retweeted it’s probably online for good! But...you can delete a tweet riddled with typos, though that doesn't stop people taking a screenshot of it if it was particularly inappropriate! You might consider having multiple Twitter accounts to separate your professional and personal identities and you may like to use a pseudonym so your personal views remain private. Here’s a pseudonym generator you could use to hide your real identity: http://www.spinxo.com/twitter-names

Once you've tweeted you have no control of retweets, so think before you tweet! 

Making Twitter easy in practice:

  • Tweet in 'real' time (best for live tweeting events, commenting on news, networking and joining discussions)
  • Write tweets in advance and schedule them to go out at specific times using an app like buffer or tweet deck. These apps allow you to plan twitter content, so if you are promoting a new course, publication, scholarship or conference, you don't have to rewrite tweets every time you want to promote your project. These apps can save a huge amount of time when you use twitter. This blog post from the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog (2) gives a good overview of how one academic - @thisisallan - organises his tweets using these sorts of appshttp://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/01/18/using-twitter-for-curated-academic-content/.
  • Use tweriod to analyse your twitter account & tell you when most of your followers are online. That means, rather than tweeting feeling like shouting pointlessly into the void, you can schedule tweets (in buffer or tweetdeck) to be sent when the people who follow you are actually likely to be paying attention!
  • Since you only have 140 characters, use an app like Bitly to shorten your link URLs.
  • If you want people to retweet you, ask them to by adding "please RT"
  • The more you tweet, the more people will follow you, tweeps also seem to love photos, links, silly (& serious) hashtags (i.e. #eggchat) & the shorter your tweet, the more likely it is to be retweeted. 
  • Want to see how gender biased you are in who you retweet, check out Twee-Q!

What kinds of things would you tweet to raise your profile?

  • Your research
  • Others research
  • Stories in the media that relate to materials you are teaching or researching

Promote yourself with Twitter (Lynda.com)

Examples

UCL has a news feed:

Many UCL faculties and department have Twitter accounts:

UCL academics have Twitter profiles:

References

  1.  Reppler: http://www.reppler.com
  2. LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/
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