How to Create a Twitter Feed for your Department or Program

With its 140-character updates, Twitter is a great way to get timely information out to your audiences. More importantly, with 75 million users, it is an excellent way to engage with and hear from those with similar interests.

Creating a Twitter account:

  1. Go to Twitter and click on "Sign up now."
  2. For "Name," give the name of your department or program. Next, choose your username—this will become part of your Twitter address and also will be how you are identified when tweeting and responding to tweets. Choose a username that clearly identifies both the university and your department or program. For email, it may be easiest to use a group mailbox that several members of your department or program can check if possible, rather than your personal e-mail address.
  3. Next, click "Settings" and fill out that information. Under the one-line bio, include brief descriptive text about your department or program, and a link to your website.
  4. Choose an image that clearly represents your department or office and one that will be clear at a very small size. Most users of Twitter will only see this image in a very small setting.
  5. Before you start tweeting, build the list of those you will be following. Seek out other UTC accounts, other accounts for people and programs in your field, and others who are tweeting about keywords that are relevant to your interests. Read, re-tweet and respond to these tweets to begin building your online network.
  6. Start tweeting! Remember, Twitter is a conversation, not a megaphone. Use yours not only to share interesting news and information about your program, but also to share news from other sources, to respond to and ask questions and to get to know your audiences better.
  7. Consider using a third-party application to communicate through Twitter. There are many free online applications that make updating and monitoring your Twitter presence much easier. Check out TweetDeck or HootSuite for starters. Many of these programs also offer mobile versions for use on Android or iPhone, among others.
  8. There are some standards actions/conventions in Twitter with which you should become familiar.
  • Reply – Reply to someone else's tweet. Your reply will also show up on your Twitter feed.
  • Retweet – One of the best ways to engage with the community on Twitter. Retweeting means you are sharing someone else's tweet on your Twitter. A retweet is formatted by adding RT in front of the @ sign and the other person's user name, followed by the original content of their tweet.

Most Twitter applications offer an easy retweeting feature.

  • URL shortener – URL shorteners are free online services that take a long URL and reduce it to just a few characters—and are highly important when you're limited to just 140 characters. Twitter will automatically shorten URLs for you, but if you would like to use a third-party application to track how many people have clicked on your shortened link, common ones are bitly and Hootsuite.
  • Hashtags – Hashtags are keywords added to a post prefaced by the # symbol. Readers can click on or search for hashtag terms to read tweets just about that topic.