Mastering twitter - for careers services

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An overview of Twitter, with practical exercises for those brand new to it - download to see the notes panes for full explication. …

An overview of Twitter, with practical exercises for those brand new to it - download to see the notes panes for full explication.

Many thanks to Kate Lindsay for use of slides from

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  • Twitter, the micro-blogging online social networking service has been in existence since 2006.  It allows users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”.It’s not always easy to see the value in answering this simple question, especially in an environment where we are used to explaining complex ideas in 5000 word journal articles or 80 000 word books. See: Earthquake 11th March. 0.05% > 12% Twitter Traffice, 1200 tweets per minute from Japan- Device-agnostic- Real-time - Everything is immediate and everything is relevant now.A Social network (you don’t have to listen to the noise of the world, just what the people you are interested in are saying)It’s public Then I heard a presentation at a small conference on how a group of PhD students were using Twitter and it convinced me that perhaps it was worth giving Twitter a try.I have been using it for over three years now and watched how it has started to become visible in more and more academic activies,
  • Twitter is not just for those with an account, although it’s strongly incentivised to get you to join in formally!You can search and read at any time – just enter a Twitter profile URL (e.g. or mine at to start)
  • This piece of information is from LinkedIn – the twitter account for the professional networking platform.If I was in any doubt, how could I check? I’d click on their name, and see a snapshot of the number of followers they have – usually a pretty good guide that either the account is genuine, or hilariously fraudulent (in which case the tweets would tell!)I could also check for a reference from is simple, straight delivery of information – “this is useful information from our website” – and it acknowledges the individual author, Lindsey Pollack, before the link. (Acknowledging individuals is very important on Twitter!)
  • This is a tweet from me to Nicola Urquhart – we know this because it starts with her handle. It’s still public, but squarely directed at her. The hashtag refers to the training session that we’ll both be at – this was self-generated by me, and included in the tweet in the hope that if she had any other information or comment about the event, she might use the hashtag to make it easier for other attendees who didn’t know her handle to find.A tweet like this is publically available, but those following me won’t see it in their timelines unless their following both Nicola and I.
  • David Winter comments on a piece of information from @sciammind. The RT or ‘retweet’ begins his cut and paste of @sciammind’s information, always followed by the author’s handle, and then the information.
  • OxfordCareers largely tweets it’s own material, but occasionally retweets something when there’s nothing to add, but it might be interesting for followers to see (if they’re not already following Ben Goldacre). You can see that with one quick click of the ‘retweet’ button, the information is repeated, unadulterated, on OxfordCareers’ output – with a small ‘retweeted by OxfordCareers’ below it, in explication.This is the twitter feed from OxfordCareers itself – the newest tweets at the top.
  • I saw this first tweet from the Association of Graduate recruiters on Friday. They’re using the popular hashtag #ff or ‘follow Friday’ – formally giving recommendations of other twitterers that their fans might be interested in following. As #ff precedes this is mentioning @gradu8recruiter and @johncusworth. If the message had started @gradu8recruiter it would function like a mention, so wouldn’t be see in the timeline of the AGR’s followers unless they already followed @gradu8recruiter too.However, I read the message, and was confused – what was #GradDev12? Having scan-read the tweets of careers people earlier that day, I knew that Paul Redmond from Liverpool was at an AGR conference, but as an experienced tweeter, he would have used the hashtag if there was one. Was this something different?Ahh... But clicking on the AGR name and choosing to ‘view more tweets’ I saw that just a few behind the one I’d read was the explication – a late decision about a hashtag to use. Paul Redmond could have made one up (that’s generally how they start!) but perhaps had been told that one was due to be released after his tweet.
  • If, to make the tweet make sense, you need to start with the person’s handle, but don’t want it to be a tweet that functions like a reply, many people include a full stop beforehand – this means, like a normal tweet, it’ll still be seen on the timelines of all followers, and generally doesn’t expect the response from the person mentioned.
  • I’m very grateful to Kate for letting me steal lots of her slides – for her full presentation see Keep your username fairly short and avoid numbers or underlines: you want others to be able to remember it and type it easily. You can be anonymous if you wish, but I’d not recommend it: you are more likely to have interesting interactions with others if they know who you are. A brief description of what you do and what your interests are will help kindred spirits discover you.Do put up a picture, but if you would rather it not of yourself make it something symbolic
  • Toni-Marie’s account is largely personal – perhaps unexpectedly given her work related profile text, but fitting well with Microsoft’s aim to be seen to be more human and less corporate as a company?
  • Marcus du Sautoy mixes academia with humour – creating a nicely accessible Twitter feed, fitting well his role involving public engagement
  • Able to tie a face and a name to the account can help build a community around it. All of the tweets coming out will still be about the organisation, with the exception of a few spice of life tweets to add some flair and personality. However, it will still be very clear that the person tweeting is doing so on behalf of the organisation and that’s their reason for being there. It is in no way seen as a personal Twitter account – just puts a name to the face.
  • Difference between being a representative from a department or college tweeting on their behalf and being a project/organisation on twitter. Here’s no employee or real personality publicly tied to the account in any way.  The focus is on promoting news, blog posts, services etc.  It’s not on building genuine relationships with people. Everything that is done is done from the perspective of TheOrganisation.
  • Creative tweeting! Character-based accounts have the tweeter posting from the voice, perspective and insight of an object/animal/plant/whatever. Everything is done through that character and the tweeter never breaks that character. It may sound silly, but we’re actually seeing a lot more organisations take this approach as they look for a way to stand out and connect with customers. If you do it right, it’s often ingenious. If you don’t, well, you just look silly.And it can be done well from outside the organisation too – hence the current presence of a sardonically tweeting ‘Boots Meal Deal’.
  •!/samuelpepys!/RealTimeWWII - use of the ‘timeline’ properties of Twitter appear infrequently – but innovations often bring coverage…
  • Good to throw in a banal tweetNot everything has to be epic. It’s the small things that help you get to know people.
  • Can work well if you already have a large following Library / Stephen Fry / THE Library / Stephen Fry / THE
  • A mix of the two – sometimes a tricky line to walk...
  • Autofollows and the like are the pariahs of twitter – avoiding all spammy behaviour is key!
  • Twitter’s recent redesign has definitely made it simply for first time users.Across the black top bar we have ‘Home’ – collecting your profile in the top left – in which you can click through to see the record of your followers and tweets, as well as send a new tweet. Once you click through this box to the second level screen you’ll see favourites and lists too.The right hand side is taken up with your timeline – what those you follow have said or retweeted.At the top in the black bar is a search box, an ‘account’ box – where you can access direct messages, settings and other things, and another ‘compose new tweet’ button.
  • Connect brings you to a pane to show you how the twittersphere is interacting with you.At the top left you can see either all interactions (things of yours that have been listed, favourited, retweeted, or who’s followed you) together with mentions, or just the ‘mentions’ – uses of your handle, either at the start of a tweet (indicating a message aimed at you), or referencing you, mid-tweet.
  • The discover tab is one that takes you to the surface of twitter – looking a trends, big stories – almost like the news pages of Digg or Reddit. But twittier.
  • At the moment the search will return between 6-9 days of tweets - use the box in the top left to select either people whose profile text matches the search term, or the tweets themselves.The search is drawing on a huge amount of information – so accurate terms are very important. Click the drop down box towards the top right (with the ‘cog’ on it) to save your searches.Running a search to find out what people are saying about your service is one of the most vital things you can do.
  • Social media use at Oxford has grown enormously in the past couple of years. Departments, colleges and services are increasingly using platforms such as Twitter to tell the university's story, and to directly engage with students and alumni, hold conversations, answer their questions and re-post their content. Oxford has over 120 accounts (risen from 80 in November)It’s ok to be just as passive user, many people are. But this is an important shift in the way that we communicate – to not be part of the conversation is to ignore those you may be seeking to engage.
  • Favourites are a useful too, separating scan-read worthy stuff from the pearls that you’ll come back to.
  • Social media use at Oxford has grown enormously in the past couple of years. Departments, colleges and services are increasingly using platforms such as Twitter to tell the university's story, and to directly engage with students and alumni, hold conversations, answer their questions and re-post their content. Oxford has over 120 accounts (risen from 80 in November)It’s ok to be just as passive user, many people are. But this is an important shift in the way that we communicate – to not be part of the conversation is to ignore those you may be seeking to engage.
  • Tweet RegularlyThink of things you can tweet that are helpful to othersConsistency is very important – if you have a few hours a week to commit then spread it out, rather than spend it in one chunk.Manage expectation by having opening hours – bio with the times they are available to tweet and the start the day with a ‘good morning’ and end with a ‘good night’Show why you think something is valuable enough to pass on rather than just RTWhen retweeting think if you can put your own spin on it and do it via via instead. Follow Others and have a conversationFind people you want to follow, learn from and get to know and start replying to them and then start replying to them and share the things they have said.If you receive a random @ message from someone you don’t know promoting something it is probably spam.Craft your tweets2. In order to make yourself more retweetable make sure you leave enough characters for some one to @ your name


  • 1. Mastering Lucy Hawkins, University of Oxford aka @CareersLucyWith grateful acknowledgement for the incorporation of material from
  • 2. What is twitter?• Micro-blogging• 140 character answers to “what’s happening?”•• In careers it’s like chatting over lunch at a conference• It’s not the keynote though – it doesn’t matter if you miss anything
  • 3. What you can do on Twitter…Without an account With an account• Search • Search• Read • Read • Follow • Reply • Write • Gather an audience • Forward
  • 4. How to read a tweet
  • 5. How to read a tweet
  • 6. How to read a tweet
  • 7. How to read a tweet
  • 8. How to read a tweet
  • 9. Summary of twitter conventions• @OxfordCareers is our Twitter handle• Messages that start @OxfordCareers are directed at us, and often expect a response• Messages that contain @OxfordCareers are referencing us• #OxAlumniCareers is a hashtag – a self generated way of labelling dialogue on a topic
  • 10. If Twitter’s a conversation, who could we talk to?• Counterpart services at other HEIs• Internal partners• External services• Potential future service users• The general public• Current services users Direct, public Q&A Higher accountability Pre-emptive responses
  • 11. Your Twitter IdentityTIPS:Shorter is betterMeaningful is goodConsider how it soundsNot capital sensitive
  • 12. Personal
  • 13. Personal-Professional
  • 14. Individual/Collective- Organisational
  • 15. Totally Organisational
  • 16. The Character Account
  • 17. The Real Time Account
  • 18. Your tweeting style
  • 19. Conversational
  • 20. Substansive
  • 21. The Middle Way
  • 22. Twitter etiquetteYou DON’T You DO need to• have to read everything • Tweet usefully• have to tweet • Tweet regularly everything • Reply to questions• have to stay loyal: • Search for how you’re unfollow! perceived • Complete your profile • Use it as a conversation tool – don’t just promote
  • 23. The interface
  • 24. HOME
  • 25. CONNECT
  • 26. DISCOVER
  • 27. SEARCH
  • 28. Finding Useful People1) Search, and use people results2) If you find someone useful, see who they follow3) Explore other people’s lists!/CareersLucy/careers- people (On their page, or using sites like to search for lists)
  • 29. Finding Useful Information
  • 30. Finding Useful Information1) If you find someone useful, their favourites2) Search for what you want3) Retweet useful stuff to your followers4) People you follow will do the same5) If following someone is not proving useful/interesting UNFOLLOW6) Build lists to group information sources7) Last resort? Google*/yourterm
  • 31. Using Twitter Tools
  • 32. Optional Twitter Tools• Analysis – TwitterCounter, TweetStats, TwentyFeet• Alerts - Twilert• Management - HootSuite, TweetDeck, Seesmic• Saving and storing – The Archivist, Twistory• Rating and ranking – FollowerWonk, Klout• Displaying - Twylah• Twitter widgets
  • 33. Social media – rapid natural selection
  • 34. Twitter strategy
  • 35. 1. Traction1. Tweet regularly2. Follow others and have @ conversation3. Craft your tweets to be retweetable4. Consider daily/weekly features5. Initiate and share hashtags6. Save searches and engage with those conversing
  • 36. 2. Management• Agree guidelines – On content – On identity – On tweeting style – On frequency• Agree who’s managing, and provide backup• Multiple managers is possible, but can cause issues!• ‘If in doubt...’
  • 37. 3. The Impact File• Set out aims and a review date before you begin• Collect data: • Number of followers • Names of useful people for future collaboration • Invitations that come via twitter • Number of hits to your blog / website via twitter• Consider the opportunity cost
  • 38. Brand new to Twitter? Exercises to get started First, go
  • 39. Sign up for an account• Choose a nice short twitter handle• You can change this at any stage• You can deactivate the account at any stage• You will need to go to your email to confirm it
  • 40. Finding people1) You’re already cunningly following OxfordCareers2) Because OxfordCareers has a ‘Recommended’ list you should get some suggestions for people to follow3) If you find someone useful, click on their name and choose ‘view more tweets4) From here you can explore who they follow, their lists and more!/CareersLucy/careers-people
  • 41. Tweeting Over 140 letters? You’ll have to beWe’re going to send our first tweet… more clever… Click ‘Home’. In the ‘Compose new tweet’ box type your tweet. Click ‘Tweet’ Click ‘Tweets’ to see how it looks to the world
  • 42. Paired practice!• Tell each other your Twitter handles• Search for their handle• Find them in ‘People results’ – click on them – and follow• Go back to Home – you’ll see you’re following them in the top left box
  • 43. Paired practice!• Send a tweet that mentions your neighbour (use their handle in the middle of the tweet)• Go to Home and Tweets to see how this looks to the world• Go to ‘Connect’ to see if they’ve mentioned you• Mouseover the tweet to see the option to reply• Send them a reply
  • 44. Direct retweeting• Search for a tweet on a subject that you think your follower will enjoy – Use the search bar – Or explore people you’ve added in your timeline• Mouseover and click Retweet• Go to ‘Home’ to see what this looks likeNB: Direct retweets won’t duplicate what’s already in a timeline
  • 45. Quoted Retweeting• Look at your timeline – click Home• Find a tweet you’d like to forward with comment• Highlight and copy the text• Start a new tweet and type your comment.• Then type RT @[source] and paste (might need to shorten)• Click Tweet and see how it looks!
  • 46. Direct Messages• Go to ‘Messages’• This is ‘direct messaging’ or DM – not tweeting• Only between two users that follow each other• Text is not publically visible• Try it in your pairs Tweets that start @someone don’t appear in a follower’s timeline unless they follow both of you. Anyone can still see any tweet on searching
  • 47. Hashtags• The hashtag for this training is #agcasSWtraining• Send a tweet that uses it – maybe with a comment!• See how the tweet looks in your timeline (‘Home’)• Click the hashtag to find other people using it• Mouseover to send them a message/reply• Search for the hashtag in the search bar
  • 48. Keep going – see what else you can find, and who else you can followLet me know how you’re getting on (start a tweet @CareersLucy ...)