Twitter can be a very powerful tool to communicate with others in your field. Your tweets can promote your own work, share news and ideas, as well as link to articles, blogs, images, videos, podcasts, or anything else that may be of interest to colleagues in your field.
If you’re not sure whether Twitter is right for you, read some of the Twitter feeds of colleagues in your subject area, or visit Twitter and search for topics of interest to you. If Twitter looks promising, we have set out the basics of tweeting below.
Before You Start
Consider the following questions before setting up your Twitter account:
- What is your goal for your Twitter account? If you want to share your work or engage colleagues in discussion on a topic, Twitter might be a good option. With Twitter, you have the potential to reach researchers and scholars in your field from around the world.
- How much of your time will you devote to Twitter? To use Twitter effectively, you will probably need to dedicate at least several hours each week to reading and sending tweets.
- How will you evaluate the effectiveness of Twitter for your work? This will likely depend in large part on a subjective analysis of whether you are getting sufficient value for your time spent on Twitter. If can add context to that evaluation by using statistics from Twitter that allow you to analyze your account's activity.
Setting Up Your Twitter Account
Join and Create Your User Profile
First, you will need to join Twitter. Once you’ve signed in, you will need to choose your username (up to 15 characters, though shorter is better) and create your profile. Your full name (display name) can be up to 50 characters in length. For your profile, you have 160 characters to describe yourself. You can include your position at Georgetown, your research interests, and other relevant information about yourself that will help other Twitter users connect with you. You should also add a photo of yourself or another appropriate image so you do not have an empty space next to your tweets or on your timeline.
To promote your Twitter account, add your Twitter username (@username) to your email signature, GUFaculty360 page, personal webpage, Facebook, business cards, and other place with your contact information.
Find People to Follow
When you follow other Twitter users, their tweets will appear on your Twitter timeline. To add people to follow, use the advanced search feature to find colleagues and to search for areas of interest. To follow an account, click on the @username and then the green Follow button. As you begin reading tweets from accounts you are following, you are likely to find more accounts that you will want to follow. You can also check out Twitter’s suggestions of what accounts to follow.
When you follow other Twitter accounts, they will get a notice informing them you are following them and may reciprocate by following you.
Tweets allow you to send short messages (240 or fewer characters) to your followers. You can tweet about new publications, research reports, presentations, papers, conferences, news stories, podcasts, blog posts, grants, government policies, or anything else that might be of interest to you and your followers. The accounts that are following you can then retweet to their followers, thus broadening the reach of your message.
When you’re tweeting:
- Include links, images, or video to add additional content to your tweet.
- Shorten links using Twitter’s link service or bitly to save space in your tweet.
- Use hashtags in your tweets to reach others users interested in the same topics.
- Include @usernames in your tweets; if that account is not following you, they will get your tweet in their Notifications tab.
- Tweet regularly to be an active participant in Twitter conversations in your field.
Most Twitter users pin a special tweet on their timeline that shows up at the top of their profile page; for example, you could pin a tweet about your latest publication or your current research.
Responding to Tweets
There are several ways to respond to tweets from others:
- Click or tap the heart next to the tweet to like another tweet; the heart will turn red to show that you've liked the Tweet. To undo the like, just click or tap the red heart.
- Share someone else’s tweet with your followers by retweeting. You can add your own message to someone else’s tweet and share that with your followers by quoting.
- Respond directly to the person who posted a tweet by replying.
Connecting with Other Twitter Users
There are many ways to connect with others with shared interests through Twitter.
- You will be notified when you get new followers. Check out their user profiles and send a tweet if you want to connect with them.
- If you are attending a conference, see if there is a Twitter hashtag for the event. If so, include that hashtag in your tweets, and search for the hashtag to see who else has been tweeting about the conference.
- Send tweets directly to other Twitter users to discuss new research, potential collaborations, etc.
- Use relevant hashtags to reach other Twitter users interested in the same topics.
- Tweet out a question to begin in a conversation about new research, upcoming events, etc.
Tips for Using Twitter
- Check your Notifications timeline regularly to see your likes, retweets, replies, and tweets that mention you.
- To stop following someone, go to your Following list and unfollow that user.
- You can prevent a user from following you by going to your Followers list and blocking that user.
- Send direct messages to other users for private conversations.
- If you want to delete a tweet, click or tap the down arrow icon, then choose delete.
- If you need to organize your Twitter feed, use the lists feature.
- Schedule your tweets to be sent out at different times during the day and other advanced features, use TweetDeck.
- Use Twitter analytics to see which of your tweets got the most attention with likes, retweets, or other indicators of engagement.
- 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics, The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 9, 2012)
- A Defense of Academic Twitter, Inside Higher Ed (October 19, 2016)
- Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It, New York Times (November 9, 2016)
- Towards a Series of Academic Norms for #Lawprof Twitter, SSRN (January 5, 2018)
- A Guide to Twitter for Researchers, Taylor & Francis
- Twitter Glossary, Twitter
- How to Use Twitter, Mashable
- Twitter Help Center, Twitter
- Using Twitter in University Research, Teaching and Impact Activities: A Guide for Academics and Researchers, LSE Public Policy Group (2011)
- The Young Academic's Twitter Conundrum, The Atlantic (May 10, 2017)