How can 500 million people be wrong? According to Wikipedia, Twitter‘s membership growth is staggering as well as it’s usage – Twitter generates 340 million tweets a day and handles over 1.6 billion search queries a day. If your school doesn’t have a presence on Twitter, they should, and I’d like to offer a blueprint on how to start using Twitter for your school.
As you begin to use Twitter for your school remember that it’s use should be part of the larger goal of your school’s use of social media. At my school we use social media as part of our inbound marketing strategy and to a lesser degree as a tool to help with student retention.
1. Reserve a Twitter ID for your school
Even if you’re brand new to Twitter, and have no idea how to use this social media channel, your first step should be to reserve a Twitter ID for your school. This is a very important step and choose your school’s Twitter ID carefully because you can’t change the name once you’ve selected it. Here are some things to think about as you select a name:
- Your school’s Twitter ID will be limited to 15 characters.
- As you select a name think of your branding and how you want your school to be known. If your formal school name is longer than 15 characters is there a shorter name or nickname how your school is known.
- I would recommend that you don’t use any special characters or spaces.
2. Personalize Your Twitter Profile
Nothing is more unprofessional than a Twitter account with the default egg profile photo. After you create your account you’ll need to personalize your profile. Here is a list of things you should complete:
- Upload a profile picture. I would suggest that you upload your school logo, school seal, or even a well-known image of the school.
- Enter the school name, location, and school’s website.
- Complete the bio section with a general description of your school.
- Navigate to the Design section and select a solid background color that is one of your school’s colors. Don’t worry about customizing your Twitter background image. You can do that later after you are more comfortable using Twitter.
3. Create a Twitter Account for Yourself
Now that you’ve completed Steps 1 & 2, I would highly recommend that you create a Twitter account for yourself. I think it is very important for you to have a personal account through which to experiment with Twitter. I actually did this because my thinking was that if made a mistake with my own Twitter account it would only reflect on me and not on my school. After you create your personal account complete Steps 1 & 2 for your own account.
4. Begin Listening
I’ve written before that the first step in using any social media channel is to begin by listening. I hope that through listening you will learn about Twitter through participating. In order to begin listening you should begin following other schools and people on Twitter through your personal account:
- I would recommend you follow these people: 101 People You Should Follow on Twitter via edSocialMedia and 118 Education People to Follow on Twitter via Blackbaud K12.
- I would also suggest that you follow many different schools to see how they are using Twitter. Make sure to follow your competitor schools as well as this list of independent schools on Twitter by William Stites.
- Finally, I would also suggest you follow some of your favorite celebrities or sports teams for a little fun.
5. Participate Personally
After you’ve listened for a while and gained a better appreciation of how people use Twitter it is time for you to tweet personally. As you begin to think about information to tweet DO NOT answer the question, “What am I doing?” but rather answer the question, “What do I find interesting?”
People really don’t want to know what you ate for breakfast. Rather, they would like to know what website, blog, newspaper article, photo, YouTube Video, or TED talk that you just finished reading/watching.
As you tweet information experiment with the days, times, and information that you tweet. See which earns the most retweets and engagement. You can use a tool like Hootsuite to help you with tracking this information.
6. Participate For Your School
After you’ve sent at least 100 tweets you’ll be ready to begin tweeting using your school’s account. Remember, Twitter is part of your inbound marketing strategy and as such you should tweet information that people will find helpful and interesting. As you begin to search for content to tweet for your school please read: 21 Ways Independent Schools Can Use Twitter. Remember to experiment and track your tweets in order to determine the best times and days to tweet information.
7. Promote Your School’s Twitter Account
After you have tweeted at least 50 times for your school your ready to being promoting your school’s Twitter account. Here are some suggestions:
- Put links to your Twitter account on your homepage, blog, and school’s facebook account.
- Put links to your Twitter account in your email signature.
- Promote your Twitter account in your school’s newsletters and parent communications.
- Put posters up around school announcing your Twitter account.
Now Get To Work
I encourage you to begin this process as soon as possible and I’d love to see your new Twitter account. After you’ve created the account please let me know by posting the account name in the comments below or by tweeting my at @SchneiderB. Good luck!