University Twitter Accounts: Spring Cleaning

For some of us, Twitter management may be a luxury (or a curse) that we aren’t  able to allot much time to. A necessary tactic for most, we may have students to do this or may be on a weekly schedule of checking ritualistically every few days. But, for those who are lucky enough to have the time, there are a few nit picky things that I wonder if we all do. Like follower scrubbing, list making and brand management.

When i recently threw the question out to the #highered community “Do you scrub your Twitter follower list?”, the responses were mixed:

I then began to think about the things that I do and wondered if I’m Twitter crazy, or just your everyday control freak. Here are a few examples:

Daily Scrubbing: I treat the university account very much like my personal account. Each day, I log in via the web and check the new followers. I have a set rule that I only follow back possible prospects, current students, alumni or local or contributing businesses. I also block spam accounts or those that may be wrongfully following such as many UK businesses (obviously with the name ‘Suffolk’ we do see a lot of those). Since the UK is not a hot prospect pipeline for us, theres less of an issue of loss of publicity here. I try to make a business decision regarding those on the line: will being in this account’s follow list serve the purposes of furthering the institution? Will we reach prospects or community members that we’d like to engage? If not, I block. Some may say this is harsh, but I do not block many accounts. They are mostly spam, rss-feed, commercialized misuses of Twitter.

List Management: I also check daily any new lists we are on. I see more and more students who are using lists to manage their information from several colleges while they are in their search phase. I try to reach out to these students in particular with some friendly offers and make sure we are following them. I also try to see if we are on any spam type lists from vendors or others and remove us from them by blocking the offender. Lately, I’ve seen lists popping up from those trying to market to college students and I’ve removed the account from them. No need to provide an easy route for more spammy posts to our students. As a simple helpful task, I created a list of all university twitter accounts for students to access.

No Student Lists: I’ve seen students creating lists of  other students. At first, I thought this would be a great way to university to take a role to connect them but then it brought up the privacy issue. If we lump them together, they’ll be able to find each other, but we’d also be contributing to ‘outing’ them as students. Basically, its marketing them. I’m not comfortable with that. I’d be curious to know what others think. (This is also a reason why I’m on the fence leaning towards ‘no’ for on campus location services, such as Gowalla and Foursquare. Even though it is ‘opt in’, it kind of breaches a student’s privacy IMHO.)

Brand Management: I think most of us also use Twitter for brand management via Twitter Search or mentions in our @reply field. I use this to reach out to prospects as they announce their acceptance. I also use it to monitor what’s being said via RSS feed daily. I RT valuable comments and reach out to students for retention purposes should they have a problem. Sometimes it backfires and students feel like they’re being watched by ‘big brother’. Most times, however, students feel heard and begin to use the university account as a way to connect to other students via us RTing information they send us. Information that they determine is important.

How do you manage and maintain your account? Do you feel scrubbing isn’t important? How much time are you able to spend maintaining the Twitter account?


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This post was written by:

Jessica Krywosa

Jessica Krywosa - who has written 11 posts on .eduGuru

Jess is the Director of Web Communication at Suffolk University. She has been a leader in electronic outreach strategies for grassroots educational non-profits for over ten years. Currently Jess is focused on strengthening virtual relationships with a heavy emphasis on enrollment and retention based efforts. Connect with her on Twitter,  LinkedIn or visit her personal website and blog.


12 Responses to “University Twitter Accounts: Spring Cleaning”

  1. Avatar image
    Rachel Reuben Says:

    Holy Hannah I wish I had an ounce of the time you have to spend on this. Our account is in dire need of scrubbing, attention, and, well, some HugSpot action. ;)

    I completely agree about the student lists. I have considered an alumni list, but haven’t pursued it simply because of the time factor right now. I’d definitely poll our followers first to see if any alumni would like to be added or have an issue with it.

    Our primary use is the brand management aspect you mention — using it as a listening tool to keep our ears pealed to what’s going on out there. Just yesterday we got the YES! and SNY channels restored on our campus cable because of a current student’s tweet complaining they weren’t available. We also regularly congratulate recently accepted students who are tweeting in delight.

    Reply

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    Jodi Neufeld Says:

    At the Barcelona GSE I have begun curating lists, including one for the community (students, faculty, and guest speakers). Your post has given me pause, and I ask myself if it’s really ‘outing’ community members to include them on a Twitter list. I only add those members of the community who add themselves as followers of the GSE. Calling the list ‘community’ instead of ‘students’ also softens the label.

    Speaking personally, my alma mater (Colgate) has added me to a similar community list on Twitter, and I felt glad to be included. I’d be interested to hear about students or others at Suffolk who have expressed concerns about inclusion on Twitter lists.

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    Jess (author) Says:

    @Rachel - yep I have plenty of time to devote to this. But, then again, its because I’m a bit of a social media control freak. Well, that and we’re lucky enough to have buy-in for it to be such a strong enrollment/retention project. :)

    @Jodi - I agree, I’m not 100% that it would be a ‘bad’ thing to create student lists but I wonder. For me its more that we are giving people easy access to them - be it marketers, stalkers or who knows. I just wonder…

    Reply

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    Joey Coleman Says:

    Interesting note about blocking followers who are clearly “robotic followers” - those who are following for reasons not related to the twitter account you manage.

    I’m at 988 followers, but probably about 10 - 20 per cent fall into that category.

    In terms of lists, I’ve found that many university/college departments create them independent of the central university/college Twitter account. I think it is better for the central account to create the lists as it gives the university some measure of control over its brand.

    Ultimately, the university can only influence the web - they can never control it.

    Reply

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    Nick Says:

    Time and twitter management is a difficult situation. I think every business and community has the problem of unwanted connections, on every social platform.

    I like that you brought up the privacy issue, as it is a major concern especially when dealing with university twitter accounts. But there are certainly ways to reach your students without having to list who they are…the “soft” labeling mentioned above (thanks Jodi) is definitely a nice approach.

    Reply

  6. Avatar image
    Ashley Says:

    I never clean out those following me but I am careful to only follow people who are interesting

    Reply

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    Shyam Kapur Says:

    This is a good post, Jess. I find the comments very useful, too. Another very nice way to deal with the incredibly rich amount of information within Twitter is to use a powerful search tool like TipTop https://FeelTipTop.com that uses some incredibly sophisticated technology to return the very best tweets first. You need then never again have to worry about having to spring-clean your Twitter accounts.

    Reply

  8. Avatar image
    Barb Chamberlain Says:

    Account maintenance for us includes reviewing new followers and blocking any spammy ones. Done daily it’s not a huge job (not yet anyway-we have around 1200 followers).

    A few reasons to factor this time usage into your Twitter plan:

    If you look at the various ranking utilities on Twitter account value (for whatever they’re worth-no one has measurement really figured out yet) some of them do factor in this information about your followers.

    In addition, the avatars of your followers show up on your profile page. If the account is being followed by porn accounts you’ll have a lot of cleavage on your profile page, which isn’t appropriate for institutional presence.

    I launched our Twitter account with a strategic identity-building plan. I follow-and want to attract-accounts related to health sciences/health professions (the primary focus of our campus), sleep research (one of our premier centers), design disciplines, and our community/region. I want them to see value in the account when I follow them, they look at our profile and decide whether or not to follow back. Those spammy avatars don’t convey that.

    The REAL value of Twitter emerges when you engage in meaningful interaction and people find value in what you’re sharing. If your followers are all multi-level marketers and chances to sign up for “must be 18 to view” photos, you don’t have the kind of followers you want to engage with, they won’t click through on links to learn more about you, and you’re wasting time. That’s the real time drain-if you’re not getting anything out of the effort to establish the account in the first place.

    I just think of it as clearing the underbrush.

    @BarbChamberlain
    Director of Communications and Public Affairs
    Washington State University Spokane
    @WSUSpokane
    https://www.spokane.wsu.edu

    Reply

  9. Avatar image
    Tracy Mueller Says:

    I do Twitter management, but not as much as I’d like. My following strategy is pretty similar to yours.

    We have a student list, but I privately asked each student for permission to include them before adding them. I also started a private student list that only I can see, and I add any student to that, just for brand monitoring puprposes, to see what they’re talking/complaining/exicted about.

    I also created an alumni list and regularly mention it and ask people to let me know if I’ve left them off. (I verify each person really is an alum.) Since I’m at a business school, our alumni and students are very keen on networking, so I think they really appreciate these lists. The response has been 100% positive.

    Reply

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    Anthony Says:

    I do this with other social networking sites.

    Reply

  11. Avatar image
    Steven Says:

    This is a good post, Jess. I find the comments very useful, too. Another very nice way to deal with the incredibly rich amount of information within Twitter is to use a powerful search tool like TipTop https://FeelTipTop.com that uses some incredibly sophisticated technology to return the very best tweets first. You need then never again have to worry about having to spring-clean your Twitter accounts.

    Reply

  12. Avatar image
    Sam Says:

    This is a good post, Jess. I find the comments very useful, too. Another very nice way to deal with the incredibly rich amount of information within Twitter is to use a powerful search tool like TipTop https://FeelTipTop.com that uses some incredibly sophisticated technology to return the very best tweets first. You need then never again have to worry about having to spring-clean your Twitter accounts.

    Reply

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