An introduction to Twitter

Hello and welcome to the world of Twitter!

While social networking might seem complicated, there are clear benefits from communicating with your audiences so we have put together this guide to help you get started.

1. Where to start

It might seem obvious, but the place to start is by setting up your own Twitter account. You can do this by going to the Twitter website and entering your details. Some people like to use their real name, some choose a pseudonym. Many of our departments here at the University have accounts and use their departmental names.

Examples of some University of Bath departmental accounts are:

@BathChem (Chemistry department)
@BathSofM (School of management)
@Bath_CRM (Centre for regenerative medicine)

2. Upload an image

Uploading a personal image rather than using the one supplied by Twitter gives your account credibility. This might be a departmental image for an official departmental account, or your own picture for a personal account.

The Department of Chemistry has chosen a picture depicting their research, whereas the central University of Bath account, which reports news items from the University, uses the logo as its image.

The Department of Chemistry has chosen a picture depicting their research, whereas the central University of Bath account, which reports news items from the University, uses the logo as its image.

3. Say who you are

Filling in the biography section when you create your account allows other users to find out who you are and make a decision on whether to follow you or not. The Twitter username @Bath_CRM might not mean much, but this is much clearer when coupled with the biography 'The Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Bath, an interdepartmental network focussed on regenerative medicine and its underpinning disciplines' along with a link to the CRM's website.

4. Search for interesting users to 'follow'

Twitter is not all about sharing what you are doing - it is also a great way to find out what other organisations and individuals are up to.

These days nearly every organisation has a presence on Twitter, so it shouldn’t be hard to find accounts that are interesting to you. Try searching your subject field in the Twitter search bar. Results for tweets containing the term come up in the main column, and for accounts related to it in the right hand bar.

For example, searching ‘Physics’ brings up results including Physics World and Professor Brian Cox, and searching ‘Higher Education’ brings up the Guardian Higher Education Twitter account.

5. Get involved in the conversation

This week and the Universities Week 24 hour Twitter marathon is a great time to get involved and try out Twitter. On Thursday 18 June we are encouraging members of the University community to tweet about the type of research and work they do that makes the University important. To be part of the wider conversation include the hashtags #UniWeek and #UniofBath in your tweet.

6. Ask for help

We’re really keen to help you get started, so if you have any questions contact the press office and we’ll see how we can help. There are also many very good guides available online, the Mashable site is a good place to start.

Twitter language

When you start to use Twitter you will become aware that there is a Twitter ‘language’ that everyone uses. Here are the basics:

Followers - the idea of Twitter is openess. Anyone can 'follow' anyone else, and your audience are the 'followers' you build up - the people who are interested in what you have to say.

@names – All Twitter users have individual names, called @names. The University’s main account uses @UniofBath.

Replies – for when you wish to reply to something someone you are following has said. You use their ‘@name’ so for example, to reply to the UniofBath feed you would use @UniofBath at the beginning of your tweet. Practice by sending a message saying hello to us @UniofBath and we’ll try to reply to all tweets we receive!

Retweets – if you liked something you read, and wanted to share it with your followers, you can ‘retweet’ it. This gives the credit for the content to the person who initiated it, and it’s through being retweeted that potential new followers become aware of interesting accounts. To retweet an account either click on the retweet button, or use ‘RT @twittername…’ before reposting the message.

Hashtags – on Twitter, using # before a word tags it, so that you can click on it and see all other instances in which it has been used. Therefore, this week is Universities Week so we are tagging research related tweets with #UniWeek. This is known as the ‘official hashtag’ for the event. Clicking on this hashtag in a tweet will bring up all tweets posted around the world with #UniWeek included – joining all members of the event together in one feed.


If you enjoyed this article you might also like:

Tweeters wanted to support Universities Week, June 2011

Universities Week 13 - 19 June: What's the big idea? June 2011

Twitter users: join the conversation, April 2011

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