What is Twitter and why should you use it?
Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ system that allows you to send and receive short posts called tweets. Tweets can be up to 140 characters long and can include links to relevant websites and resources.
Twitter users follow other users. If you follow someone you can see their tweets in your twitter ‘timeline’. You can choose to follow people and organisations with similar academic and personal interests to you.
You can create your own tweets or you can retweet information that has been tweeted by others. Retweeting means that information can be shared quickly and efficiently with a large number of people.
Why use Twitter?
Twitter has become increasingly popular with academics as well as students, policymakers, politicians and the general public. Many users struggled to understand what Twitter is and how they could use it, but it has now become the social media platform of choice for many.
The snappy nature of tweets means that Twitter is widely used by smartphone users who don’t want to read long content items on-screen.
Twitter allows you to:
- easily promote your research, for example by providing links to your blog stories, journal articles and news items
- reach a large number of people quickly through tweets and retweets
- follow the work of other experts in your field
- build relationships with experts and other followers
- keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments, and share it with others instantly
- reach new audiences
- seek feedback about your work and give feedback to others
- follow and contribute to discussions on events, for example conferences that you can’t attend in person
- express who you are as a person.
What should you tweet about?
The type of information you tweet can depend on whether you are tweeting as an individual or as an organisation, project or group.
If you have a personal Twitter account you may want to mix tweets about your research with tweets about other things that are of interest to you, for example hobbies, news stories and general observations. Insights into non-academic aspects of your life can help make you an interesting person to follow.
If you are tweeting on behalf of an organisation, project or group then you may choose to only send research-related tweets. Twitter is a relatively informal communications tool so don’t be afraid to embrace a personal, friendly and humorous approach to tweeting.
Examples of things you can tweet
- Details of new publications or resources you’ve produced
- News items that feature your research
- Links to any blog posts you’ve written
- Thoughts on conferences you attend
- Questions to invite feedback
- Interesting news items you’ve found
- Interesting photographs
- Replies to other people’s tweets
- Retweets of other people’s tweets