Each week I receive a number of questions from staff across the University regarding social media, covering anything from how to shorten a URL to use in a tweet or what groups are for on LinkedIn, Below I’ve listed some of the most common queries I’ve had over the past few months:
Q1: Why do some of my tweets not show up on my main feed when I @mention people? / Why do people sometimes put full stops before @mentions?
When you mention someone at the start of a tweet, Twitter will consider this to be a ‘reply’ regardless as to whether that was your intention! This means that it will only appear in the Timelines of those following both you and the account you’ve mentioned and will only appear in the ‘Tweets and Replies’ tab on your profile.
This was originally so that people wouldn’t have their feeds bombarded with lots of conversations that were irrelevant to them.
If you really do need to use a username at the start of a tweet, this can be prevented by putting a full stop in front of it.
Q2. What’s the best way of using hashtags on Twitter? / Should I use existing hashtags or create new ones? / Are long or short hashtags best? / Should I always include a hashtag?
Short hashtags are best – remember you’ve only got 140 characters in a tweet so this will eat into them. You don’t always have to include a hashtag, however they do generally increase the reach of your tweets if used properly. Those also talking about the topic may interact with you and share your posts.
Hashtags are generally used in two different ways, either as a way to express a sentiment (e.g. #Excited) or to link topics together. The use of them to link topics together is usually more beneficial – for example using a conference hashtag if you’re attending one – as it will increase the visibility of your tweet to other people also talking about the topic. If you click on a hashtag you’ll be able to see all the tweets that have included it.
If you want to make up a hashtag for an event, do some research and make sure it isn’t already being used. If two different events use the same hashtag it will be harder for you to see how many of those are relevant to you.
Q3. What is the benefit of joining LinkedIn groups? How do I make the most of them?
LinkedIn groups can be a useful way to widen your network and engage with those in your subject area. Starting discussions and joining in those started by others will help raise your visibility but also set yourself up as a subject expert. From a recruitment perspective, joining groups will make yourself more likely to be found by a recruiter, especially if they are hunting specialist groups for a role they’re hiring for.
Q4. Are there any (free/paid) tools to help manage and schedule content?
There are a number of tools that can help you do this. In terms of free tools, Hootsuite, Buffer and TweetDeck are all popular and easy to use options and will all let you schedule your tweets in advance, meaning you can post at times where your audience are more likely to be online but you might not have necessarily been available.
For example, if you know that your audience is most active at 6pm but you’re always driving at that time, use one of these tools to schedule your content to go out then. Each of the tools have handy walkthroughs and guides to explain how to use them.
5. How much time (per week) does it take to maintain Twitter / a blog / a LinkedIn profile?
You get out of it as much as you put in!
If you’re just looking for base level activity, 5-15 minutes a day should be enough. If you’re looking to be more active and plan posts in advance (or write blogs yourself) this would perhaps take 1-2 hours plus regular checking back on any interactions (engaging as well as broadcasting).
If you need more information about building your professional profile on social media, check out the digital teams recent Bitesize Briefing presentation.
6. Should I write in text speak? / What tone of voice should I use? / How do I avoid being taken out of context?
It’s really important that you sound like yourself – so although it’s only 140 characters on Twitter you shouldn’t resort to using text-speak.
Think before you post anything that might be considered controversial – how might other people interpret what you’ve said? If you think it’s going to cause any problems then generally it’s best not to post it. There have been cases where comments have been taken out of context and misinterpreted so it is essential you think this through.