HubSpot blogger Lindsay Kolowich continues her informative series examining how colleges and universities are using social media. This time setting her sights on Twitter, Kolowich begins with the results of a 2015 Pew Research Center survey that found Twitter usage continuing to rise among 18 - 29 year olds - “37%..., up from 31% the year before.” But Twitter, limited to 140 characters per tweet, presents unique challenges to reaching and engaging an audience. To do so successfully it is critical that you know your audience and “understand their social media habits.” As Kolowich points out, colleges and universities are fortunate in that they have a number of built-in audiences - students, prospective students, faculty and alumni.
Beyond knowing your audience, Kolowich finds a variety of approaches including presenting “well-planned” content, the need to make your tweets about your followers and less about yourself and the power of hash tags to drive engagement. Well-placed gifs, videos and hash tags are critical in offsetting Twitter’s inherent limitations. Kolowich singles out a number of schools for the creativity of their Twitter cover page illustrating how custom graphics, links to ongoing contests or on campus campaigns can provide quick visual reminders for users.
The schools that made the cut are: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Bloomington, University of Glasgow, University of Madison-Wisconsin, Georgetown University, Princeton University, Stockholm Universitet, Ohio State University, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad delValle de Mexico, Ruhr-Universitat, National University of Ireland, Galway, Butler University, and Tufts University.
In the course of reviewing each site, Kolowich provides important data points. “Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets than tweets without images.” and “hashtags with 11 or more characters get 117% more retweets than those with between 6–10 characters.” These statistics support the strategies of each of the higher ed sites profiled.
Bottom line. When used effectively, Twitterconnects users to all your social media channels, provides a useful window to upcoming events, and a snapshot of life on your campus. For those out there still trying to get a handle on Twitter at your school, Kolowich’s 14 picks offer lots of great ideas.
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