Twitter use by Universities

I’m late to the party with this one, but I’ll take a look at those posts on Twitter use by universities from a few weeks back.

Brian Kelly wrote a great post exploring Russell Group uni’s use of Twitter, and explores what might be emerging best practice for HE use. The post looked at central, official, feeds rather than the mass plurality of research centers, departments and facilities using the platform.

He suggests the following:

  • An appropriate profile should be provided. This could be used, for example, to clarify the status of the Twitter account, the scope of usage and to promote the host institution.
  • The location of the host institution should be provided, in text and as geo-located metadata, in order for tweets to be available to location-aware services.
  • Twitter profiles should provide links back to appropriate pages on the institution’s Web site.

I’m not sure about geo-location data. Considering the name of most institutions, it’s kind of implicit as to where you are. Obviously for some users in-far off countries it might not be, but the majority of your followers will know. Looking at my Twitter feed, it really doesn’t seem to have caught on yet, though I have no doubt it will.

As it’s the ‘official’ account, for the central university, I don’t see how you can link to anything other than the homepage. Anything else makes assumptions about your audience – such as an admissions page would assume you are appealing to prospective students. Which you might be, but that should be implicit on the profile, and if so, is it really the central one if it’s being that prescriptive about its audience?  It’s equally important that you then link to your social media presence on the University site, so website users know where to find you.

Via a comment Brian left on a post on the topic by Chris Sexton, I came across a critical view from Ferdinand von Prondzynski, who will take up his position of Principal and VC of Robert Gordon University (a good example of one where geo-location on tweets might be useful!) next month:

As I am currently looking at the impact of Twitter in higher education, I spent some of yesterday perusing the twitterings of about 50 universities, across several countries. I have come to the conclusion that they are, all of them, completely wasting their time, because they have no idea what Twitter is for. Not one of them.

He explains that as University’s have relatively few followers, and it’s unclear who the audience is, and that the tweets are often ‘pushing’ information, without interaction, that they simply aren’t using Twitter correctly, and they should stop, take stock, and think about how a presence might help.

There is a multiplicity of audiences for any central Uni Twitter feed. Obviously, it’s all still just another channel for communications – but if they have an interesting enough story to tell in their content, then it will get attention on Twitter, and they deserve to get proper recognition of that through having a central channel that can promote the story and get referred to.

5 Responses to “Twitter use by Universities”


  1. 1 Lois 04/08/2012 at 00:14

    I teach at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana. The college’s home web page has a link for Twitter. There is a link for informational tweets from the different departments which provides succinct information “bullets” for students (e.g. enrollment for the fall term begins on…, please contact financial aid office about…) under the banner of “@Ask Ivy Tech.” However, there is also a link for “Followers.” This feature allows the students to tweet each other as well as faculty or staff at the institution. This dual usage of Twitter by the college allows for the exchange of terse bits of information for both educational purposes and social interaction among the students.

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