eduWebLive Blog - Twitter for Higher Ed

By Billy Adams - Tue, Jul 21-->



Billy Adams of liveblogging here on .eduGuru from eduWeb 2009.

Aaron Rester of the University of Chicago Law School

A Bird in the Hand: Twitter as a Higher Ed Communications Tool

“I would not consider myself an expert on twitter, more of an enthusiast. I guess that’s the point.” - Aaron.

Asks the crowd how many people have personal accounts, large majority raise their hands. Smaller number raise their hands about running institutional accounts.

Act I - I Know Why the .Edu Bird Tweets

Twitter Basics

  • 140 characters
  • follow and be followed
  • Converstation via @username
  • Trends using #hashtag

Institutions used to balk at use because of several reasons including that 140 characters isn’t enough characters to make a meaningful statement.

We can use these to our advantage.

Benefits of Twitter

  • Alert followers to events, news, deadlines, etc.
  • Establish or maintain relationships

You can engage users wherever they are.

Potential Audiences

  • Current Students - 50% of respondents to tweet poll are targeting current students
  • Prospective Student
  • Alumni
  • Media
  • General Public

Current Students - 50% of respondents to a tweet poll are targeting current students

Prospective Students

Twitter Badges are used at several instiutions. University of Chicago Law School created the page “Tweet Chicago” and asked several students and faculty to post tweets for this. They wanted to let the tweeters tell the story for them. For prospective students to get the real story of what it’s like at Chicago.


They want to feel very connected as a part of this intellectual community. UChicago Law has gotten very positive feedback.

Media Relations

  • Let them know about events
  • Pitch story ideas
  • Remember: retweets can amplify your audience

Brand Management

  • Search for, monitor and respond to discussions about your school

Brand management is a dirty word in higher ed. No one wants to admit that we all have a brand that we need to manage.

You have an opportunity to respond in the public to questions on Twitter and other social media outlets about your brand.

Ex. Barak Obama as a guest lecturer, there were questions about what this means.

Best reason to get on Twitter. It will happen without you. @oberlin. A student-created auto feed that picks up any mention of Oberlin on twitter and then puts it out. The school has no control over what goes out.

Act II - Getting of the Ground

Step 1= Create a personal account for yourself

You want to be fluent in the social norms and etiquette of twitter before you venture out with your institution.

Step 2 = Getting Approval

  • Just did it, didn’t seek approval - 70%
  • Sought approval from immediate supervisor - 24%
  • Required to seek approval from VP-level supervisor or other higher-level position - 3%
  • Required President - 3%
  • Survey results -

Not seeking approval gets you one big advantage, you can then take it to your supervisor and show them the success you have.

Step 3 = Ask questions about content

Which audiences are you trying to reach?

What kind of content will be most appealing to them?

Where will that content come from?

Content Integration @UChicagoLaw

Blogs Podcasts and Newsfeeds go to Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo Pipes go to Feedburner, Facebook, Twitter

Feedburner goes to the website and Alumni E-briefs

Human editors also contribute to Twitter and Facebook

Don’t have all your tweets be automated. Social media without people defeats the purpose.

Who will be tweeting for you and how will they interact?

1 person - 46%

2 people - 25%

3 or more - 29%

They should know the institution. They’ll need to be answering questions or who to turn to when issues arrive.

If multiple staff tweeters, discuss institutional personality. Is it snarky or serious or fun? If your gimmick is the mascot, then the tweets should reflect that.

If you have student or faculty tweeters, remember to set guideline. Remember that your grandmother and/or your future employer will probably read this somewhere down the road.

Interacting with your followers

Who do you follow

  • 13% everyone
  • 10% no one
  • 29% only community

Will you engage in conversations?

Will you have sort of Twitter-specific content? Contests? @UChicagoLaw offered autographed book to 1000th follower

Will you treat it as a customer service outlet? Is it going to be your job to redirect questions to the appropriate people or do you not have the manpower for that?

Will you retweet? If so, what? Are you only going to retweet the things particular to your institution?

Twitter Tools

TweetDeck - link - allows saved searches, multiple accounts, groups

CoTweet - link - web based, allows you to assign tweets to a particular team member for follow-up

Measuring ROI

Does anyone have evidence - numbers not feelings - that Twitter usage has resulted in anything meaningfully beneficial to the university? - question on uWebD ning community.

Ways to measure traffic (GoogleAnalytics funnels, TwitClicks) Others in the room brought up HootSuite. Anecdotal evidence can be more effective than just your blog subscribers go up. This will vary from school to school

But big question is: How will your school measure “engagement”? Retweets are a way that Aaron uses to measure it.

Act III - Birds of a Feather

Discussions at the tables rather than traditional Q & A.

This post was written by:

Billy Adams - who has written 4 posts on .eduGuru

One Response to “eduWebLive Blog - Twitter for Higher Ed”


  1. links for 2009-07-24 « innovations in higher education --> says:

    [...] eduWebLive Blog – Twitter for Higher Ed | .eduGuru (tags: socialmedia marketing twitter eduweb eduweb09) [...]