Birds of a feather: Twitter tips

Twitter has a steep learning curve. Embrace it! Image by Bernard Goldbach, topgold. CC.

Twitter has a steep learning curve. Embrace it! Image by Bernard Goldbach, topgold. CC.

This weekend I’m in Toronto at the Canadian Science Writer’s Annual Meeting, so I won’t have much time to blog!

In the spirit of science communications, I’ll share some Twitter tips I picked up from the last conference I attended, the Science and Technology Awareness Network Annual Conference.

In April I adopted twitter as a networking tool, so I’ll use the tips from the conference to evaluate how I’m doing so far. Here goes nothing!

1. Twitter is a real-time platform, so don’t be afraid to repeat your tweets in case people missed them the first time.

Me: I’m deathly afraid of repeating posts. I have too much Facebook in my blood.

2. Magic formula for maintaining a following:

a. 60% of posts should be links related to your passion
b. 30% of posts should promote others, and be conversations with others
c. 10% of posts should be self-promotion. If you do too much, you will annoy people!

Me: I’m really good at retweeting links that I’m passionate about. There are so many cool science writers on twitter with awesome things to share! I’m also good at using twitter to promote this blog. However, I need to work on replying to people’s posts and joining discussions. Putting yourself out there can be hard, but it definitely gets people’s attention!

3. Don’t worry about the numbers! That’s not why you’re doing this. Post on social media because you want to share.

Me: I do get that little rush of oxytocin to the brain whenever I get an update or a new follower on twitter, but I don’t make a huge deal out of it. Views of my blog are another story entirely, probably because my blog is a lot more work than twitter. I’m trying to limit checking the number of views of my blog to once a day, because any more than that is not a good use of my time. Also, my logical-mathematical brain likes all the numbers and statistics that WordPress presents you with. I’m sure Twitter also has fancy stats applications, but I will stay far away from them!

4. Let your personality come through! People want to connect with other people on twitter, not with emotionless content curators.

Me: My personality came through more strongly when I first started tweeting. Instead of retweeting I would compose my own tweets. However, retweeting is much easier than thinking of clever things to say, so now I mostly retweet content. I need to go back to writing tweets from scratch!

5. All of your posts don’t have to be about science! Show your personality with other interests.

Me: Most of my posts are about science or science writing, but I occasionally post about events in the City of Ottawa. Some people think Ottawa is a boring government town, but there is so much to do here. You just have to find it!

6. Remember that the content you post is a product. Only say things you would say to someone’s face.

Me: The anonymity of the internet can sometimes lull us into a false sense of security. In fact, anything you post on Twitter is visible to the world. I always think before I post or retweet, and I’m usually pretty good at remembering that I’m posting to the world.

7. Have a personal social media brand unrelated to your place of work. You may not work there forever!

Me: The advantage of unemployment is that I don’t have this problem. My Twitter brand is all me! It just needs a bit more personality, is all.

I hoped those tips were helpful. I’m still learning about Twitter, but I’ve already connected with some cool people. I would certainly recommend it as a networking tool for students just starting out in the real world. It’s also a great place to find potential employers that you didn’t know existed. Happy Tweeting!

About Amelia

I am a recent biology graduate and current journalism student exploring career opportunities in science communications.

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June 2014


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