Twitter best practise

This best practice guide for Twitter is based on the work of Michael Brito in the Mashable Twitter Guide but it has been adapted to reflect the University’s position. Twitter is a great tool for conversations, building community and finding the latest industry news. This best practice guide has been designed to provide guidance for those engaging in Twitter on behalf of the University.

Do your research before engaging

Know how your potential community uses Twitter. It takes only a minute to go to Twitter Search and find out if there are any conversations happening about the University or your subject/dept/course. Before you can provide meaningful content for your community you need to know what people are saying about you.

If your search yields zero results, don’t worry: there may still be an opportunity to establish a presence and start a conversation on the service. However, Twitter may or may not be the right tool for you to engage your consumers. It’s important to understand how people are referring to you on Twitter so that you can perform an accurate search. You may need to try different spellings and variations to find the terms that your audience are using.

Determine organisational goals

Not all brands use Twitter in the same way. Some use it to provide customers with support, while others use it sell products. It’s important to think about what you are trying to achieve by using Twitter before devoting your time and resources to it.

Comply with the University’s social media visual identity

The University Twitter background should be used on all official Twitter accounts. This can be requested from Vic Russell in Marketing Communications, ext.1244 and elements can be customised for your needs.  All social media presences should comply with the social media visual identity, just as the visual identity applies to all printed materials. For full details on accounts and identity see the Direction on Twitter Accounts and Identity guide.

Are you tweeting in an official capacity (e.g As your role, or as a department or service)?

Acknowledge you are employed at University in your biog

Reference University in your account profile (use agreed naming format) Make it clear in the biog that the views are your own
Use official  university Twitter background
Yes (exclusively) Yes
Yes No Yes
Sometimes (mix of personal and work) Yes No Yes Yes - if your site is in the name of a dept or service
No - if your account is your own name or it is personal
No No Yes No

Build your Twitter equity and credibility

To be successful on Twitter, you have to build credibility and equity. That doesn’t necessarily refer to the number of followers, tweets, or retweets you may have, although these are important factors. Rather, it’s more about developing a reputation as a trusted source of information or being seen as an expert in a particular subject.

You won’t succeed in building your Twitter equity by pushing out one-way messages about your product. Instead ask questions, be personal, and engage people naturally within the Twitter community. Otherwise, customers won’t listen to what you have to say. A good tip is to follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of tweets should be conversational and personal, 20 percent about the University. This balance will help build customer engagement and link click-through rates.

Track metrics and conversation trends

Tools like and and provide free real-time social media search and analysis, which will help form a picture of the amount of money Twitter has saved you, or the return on your investment. This will help determine the role of Twitter in your social media strategy going forward.

Don’t go overboard; less structure is better

Planning, training, coordination and integration with social tools is imperative but Twitter use can appear disingenuous and inhuman if the approach is too structured, to the point where your community may be turned off. Treat your Twitter relationships the same way you would any other relationship. Familiarise yourself with the rest of the Social Media Handbooks to understand the parameters and rules for engagement.

Listen and observe before engaging

Don’t just start tweeting and assume that the Twitter community is going to accept you with open arms; communities rarely just form on their own. It’s important that you spend some time just listening and observing the behaviour of those who are talking about you. Understand how your customers behave and adjust accordingly.

You don’t have to follow everyone that mentions your organisation to listen in on the conversation. In fact, this may irritate some people. Instead, when you’re ready to start answering questions, @reply them. Quite often they’ll end up following you. Let the relationship grow from there.

Be authentic and believable

This means spending time listening to your community, observing it, and learning about the dynamics of that community. Your will become believable only after you have established trust among those in your community.

Track, measure, and iterate

The great thing about social media is that it’s relatively easy to track the results of Twitter engagement, once you have determined your goals. It’s even easier to change course if you find that your efforts aren’t working according to plan.

Don’t just strategize: execute!

Planning is very important but it shouldn’t inhibit action. Twitter is about the moment, so don’t risk missing opportunities by spending too much time trying to think of the best strategy. Once you are comfortable with the social media guidance and best practice, have an understanding of your community and have spoken to the Marketing Communications team, don’t be afraid to get started.

If you would like more information about how you can use Twitter to support your work, or would like to discuss training requirements please contact Vic Russell ext.1244.


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