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Twitter allows groups and individuals to stay connected through the exchange of short status messages (140 character limit). Twitter encourages frequent updates, engagement and “retweeting” content. Account managers should tweet daily and be able to respond with some immediacy and engage in conversation.

Before creating any social media account, you must fill out the Account Request form. Once your account is approved, you must register your channel(s).

Setting up your account

  • Profile and Header Photo: View up-to-date ideal sizes for Twitter photos. You may not use the university seal as your Twitter profile or header photo (please see University Visual Identity Guide).
    • Profile Picture: Recommended dimensions for profile photos are 400×400 pixels. Be sure the images is your property, in the public domain, has a Creative Commons license, or falls under fair use.
    • Header Photo: Recommended dimensions for header photos are 1500×500 pixels. Be sure the image is your property, in the public domain, has a Creative Commons license, or falls under fair use.
  • Theme: Twitter provides some default themes and allows a great degree of color customization for profile pages. You can also upload a custom background, but make sure the image is public domain or you have rights to the image prior to using it. The hex code for Tufts Brown is 522C1B and the hex code for Tufts Blue is 3172AE.
  • Name: The limit is 20 characters and most accounts should include the university name along with the department, school or organization name (e.g. Tufts ExCollege). If you are promoting the identity behind the Twitter account, you may include that in the name (e.g. Justin in Admissions).
  • Username/Twitter Handle: The limit is 15 characters and it should align with your name if possible (e.g. Tufts Department of Language and Literature could be “TuftsLangLit”) while still conveying meaning (e.g. “TuftsLL” has no obvious meaning). Athletics groups may use “Jumbo” in place of Tufts (e.g. “JumboSoftball”). Even if you are publicizing the identity behind the Twitter account (e.g. Justin in Admissions), you should consider keeping a non-personal name (e.g. @TuftsAdmissions) in case of staff turnover, change of roles/focus, etc.
  • Bio: Be sure to include the full name and description of your department or organization in the Bio field.

Following

You can’t control who follows you (unless you block them, which should only be done in the case of obvious spam accounts), but you can control who you follow.

  • You’ll want to follow the main Tufts University handle and other official Tufts accounts. We have created multiple lists that include official Tufts Twitter handles, faculty, student groups, campuses, etc. You can follow one or a few of these lists to see what other people and departments are tweeting. It is good practice to follow other Tufts handles and occasionally retweet relevant information.
  • As you gain followers, it is good practice to “follow back,” in order to build relationships and community. However, as in all aspects of your social media usage, use your judgment. If you are followed by accounts that look like spam, have no bio or profile photo, do not tweet regularly, or tweet inappropriate or irrelevant material, you should not follow them back. If spammers follow you, you can block them. If you receive a direct message or a tweet with suspicious content, do not click on the link – spammers often use links to get people to click on sites that include inappropriate or malicious content.
  • You can search Twitter users and lists to see others who may tweet about things that are relevant to your office or department or subjects related to your field. You may want to follow similar departments at other universities, leaders in your industry, faculty in your department, etc.
  • You can search specific hashtags to find users who are tweeting about topics that are also of interest to your department or group.

Tweeting

  • Clients: Many people prefer to use a client like TweetDeck to manage their Twitter accounts, rather than just using the Twitter website. Clients allow you to schedule tweets, keep lists open, track search terms, be alerted to mentions, etc.
  • Links: You will likely often tweet links to blog posts, industry articles, events, Tufts information and more. Since Twitter is a 140-character format, links can take up a lot of real estate. Twitter and most clients now automatically shorten URLs for you, but you may want to use a link shortening service, such as bit.ly, to track metrics for  links (it will generate a link such as bit.ly/abc123).
  • Retweeting: Retweeting, (sometimes seen as RT), is a primary way of sharing content on Twitter. Use judgment in what you retweet, as you are sharing content on behalf of the university.
  • Quote Tweeting: Quoting a tweet means you add your own words or commentary to another user’s tweet. The original tweet appears at the end of your tweet.
  • Hashtags: Hashtags, #, are used to call out certain words or phrases. Adding a # in front of a word or phrase makes it clickable and will return every tweet that has used that hashtag. Hashtags can only include letters and numbers; they will cut off if you include a non-alphanumeric character. Before using a hashtag, search it to make sure it is not already claimed for something that is perhaps not how you intend to categorize your tweet. We often use the hashtags #Tufts, #JumboPride, and #GoJumbos but there are many other hashtags on Twitter and you may want to include them to contribute to other conversations.
  • Cross-posting: If you have both a Facebook and Twitter account, simultaneously and automatically sharing on both platforms is against Tufts’ Best Practices. Twitter and Facebook are very different platforms with different languages, frequency of posts, and goals for your departments and each should have their own content. Occasionally you may want to post the same information to both places, but the message should be crafted differently for each. For instance, you may want to use a hashtag or mention other users on Twitter.
  • Photos: You can add photos, gifs, and videos to your tweets, but they take up about 22 characters of your 140-character limit. Photos used on Twitter should be your property, in the public domain, have a Creative Commons license, or fall under fair use.
  • Direct Messages: Sometimes you may prefer to take a conversation off of the public twitterverse and have a private conversation. For example, if someone is asking very specific questions or has a complaint. You can only send someone a direct message (DM) if that person is following you and you can only receive DMs from people you are following.

Remember, unless you have explicitly protected your account (which is not recommended), all of your updates are public and findable.

Insider Tips

HT: HT or H/T means “heard through.” If you are not retweeting something from Twitter, but would like to attribute the source where you saw the information, you can mention the handle after HT.
Via: If you learned of something via someone else or if an article you are tweeting is from a news source, you can attribute that by using via.
CC: Just like emails and memos, cc means “carbon copy.” If you want someone specifically to see your tweet, you can cc them.
Dots: Beginning a tweet with a handle means that only those who follow both you and that handle will see that tweet. For this reason, you will often see a dot before a handle’s name if that handle is at the beginning of the tweet.