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Twitter Guidelines

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates, known as tweets. Tweets must be 140 characters or fewer.

Twitter is an important communications platform. It’s the first worldwide application streamlined for cell phone use. Twitter users receive amazing and immediate feedback. It is expected to grow exponentially as handheld devices and cell phones try to keep up with the iPhone.

  • Basic Terminology
    Fail whale – A Twitter service outage

    – Twitter users who subscribe to your tweets.

    Hash tag
    – a text label for categories of tweets. Hash tags are generated organically by the Twitter community but all follow this
    format #NameOfLabel. Hash tags allow you to follow topics or your own posts.

    – A short message sent via Twitter. (Note: it’s not a “twit”)

    – An organized gathering with your Twitter followers arranged via Twitter.

    – Not just your Twitter followers, but also those followers with which you’ve established a relationship.

    – Forwarding a message from one Twitter user to your Twitter followers. Retweets have RT at the beginning of their message and contain the original author’s username (e.g., @TwitterUserName)
  • Effectively Using Twitter
    Message timing – Effectively using Twitter requires checking in, all throughout the day (and even night). Tweets should be sent at all times, not just during business hours.

    Message bursting
    – Your tweets are more likely to be noticed if you send them in bursts of three to four tweets. Avoid sending more than five consecutive tweets as this tends to clog your followers’ feeds and can be annoying.

    Enhancing Twitter messages
    – Followers love to receive messages with pictures, interesting links, and even location info.

    URL shorteners
    –Services that take long urls and make them shorter so they are more compatible with the short message Twitter
    format. Popular services include bit.ly and tiny.cc.

    – One of the best ways to find content and to gain friends is by retweeting their messages. All retweeted messages
    begin with “RT.” To ensure your tweets are RT friendly, keep them shorter than 120 characters.
    Followers/Following – One effective way of gathering followers is by following other people. Leverage other social media networks to acquire more followers.

    Twitter programs – Tweetdeck (mac/pc desktop program), twitterfox (a plug-in for the Firefox browser), tweed (Palm pre), Tweetie (iPhone), Twittelator (iPhone).

    Linking accounts
    – Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and YouTube can all be linked so that when one service is updated, the others
    are updated as well.

    Using multiple accounts
    – People follow your tweets because they either know you or your tweets tend to follow a general theme. If you have varying content, consider using multiple twitter accounts.

    – A great market research tool; get together with your
    followers to ask questions and to listen.
  • Twitter-specific Guidelines
    • Twitter forces brevity. The 140 character limit forces you to be on topic.
    • Customize your design and include an avatar that represents your content, such as your logo.
    • Provide a service: Tweet about time-sensitive information (live updates at events, or process driven updates and deadlines).
    • Use links to direct followers to images or articles that playoff your tweets and allow for maximum exposure from just a few words.
    • Consider the “law of thirds” when you tweet. You broadcast content, you converse with others and you serve up links of value. University of Idaho content communicated in this form is very beneficial.
    • Post relevant content users would like to know. If your account is for a specific event like the Jazz Festival, don’t post news about the College of Engineering’s new research grant (unless it affects the Jazz Festival).
    • Make friends. Don’t solicit them. There are several ways to artificially boost your follower pool. Don't engage in these behaviors; let it happen naturally. If you follow people, have a reason (i.e., they are known alumni of the university, experts in a field, etc.). Don’t blindly follow accounts for the sole purpose of boosting your follower pool.
    • Retweet third party content that is relevant. Part of being a source of information is to find outside points of reference and deliver it to your followers. Examples might be other research blogs or news articles that are in relation to your events.

    Twitter feeds promoted by the university must relate to a service provided by the university or specific organization within the university, such as news and communications, athletics or admissions. To create a university-branded Twitter feed, please contact Josh Paulsen.