[Originally posted February 24, 2010.]

In the two years that I’ve been using Twitter, I’ve tried my best to get my PR students using Twitter, too. Most of them dutifully complete their One Week of Twitter assignment, then fade away when it’s no longer a requirement.  One week definitely isn’t enough time to “get Twitter,” but the classes I teach aren’t Twitter 101 classes . . .  Twitter is simply a small component of the classes. And the more I make it an assignment, the less they seem to like it.

So this week, I decided to compile a list of reasons and ways PR students can get the most out of Twitter. Maybe if they (you?) see the benefits, it will encourage you to stick with it even when it’s not an assignment.

  1. Write a good 160-character bio. Mention in your bio that you are a PR student and which university you attend. If there’s room left, include some additional information to personalize your bio. I know a lot of PR pros who always follow students back, if they know they are students.
  2. Upload a profile picture. Make yourself look like a human and not a generic bot. I recommend you pick a nice square picture of yourself. When you use a rectangle, it will be cropped, and you have no control over where the crop is. Try to have a picture that looks relatively professional. And by all means, have only YOU in the photo, no significant others or pets.
  3. Help your followers (or potential followers) learn more about you. In your profile, share a link to your blog (if, and only if, you update it regularly) or LinkedIn profile. Newbie mistake: Adding a link to your Twitter profile. Um, the person is already AT your profile page, so it’s kinda superfluous.
  4. Follow PR people. I created a Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students with about 60 engaging people and organizations to follow. Read what they write. Get a feel for how tweets look.
  5. Reply to people. If someone says something thought provoking, send him or her a note back with an @ reply. Even if the person isn’t following you, he or she will see your message. (I tend to follow back more quickly when someone sends me an @barbaranixon to start a conversation with me.)
  6. Introduce yourself. Twitter isn’t like a midddle school dance. You can’t just stand around, leaning on the wall, hoping someone will “ask you to dance.” It’s okay to send tweets to PR pros. And most of them really like it when you do! Let them know you’re a PR student. You may be surprised how helpful many of them are.
  7. Share links to interesting information. I recommend using Bit.ly for shortening links. Bit.ly can change a URL from “http://barbaranixon.posterous.com/a-fordmustang-sandwich-bump-drafting-stopped” to “http://bit.ly/cLCgNG” — this is a huge help when you’re trying to share a long link but don’t want to use up most of your 140 characters with the URL. A bonus? When you sign up for a free Bit.ly account, you get some analytics for free, which means you can tell how many people clicked on your link.
  8. Ask questions. In “real life,” how do conversations work? Lots of times one person asks a question and the other person answers it. On Twitter, if you ask a question, you may be pleasantly surprised at the responses you get, both from PR pros and other followers. Tip: PR pros tend to like to offer advice to PR students.
  9. Connect Twitter to your cell phone. If you can access Twitter from anywhere, it’s more likely that you will use it more often. I have DMs (direct messages) come right to my Palm Pre. And I can send a SMS tweet to 40404, and it will update my Twitter profile automatically.
  10. Twitter isn’t Facebook. And it’s not supposed to be. Twitter is more than a series of Facebook-type status updates. If that’s what you want to do, use Facebook instead. Very few people on Twitter really care that you’re “really really tired today” or that you “just left the gym.”

And now for tip 10.5: Interested in getting more followers? Take a look at your last page of tweets on Twitter.com. Read them carefully. If you didn’t know you, would you want to follow you?

So those are my 10.5 tips. What else would you suggest?



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39 Responses to 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter

  1. […] Read my post 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter. […]

  2. I have been using twitter for about 4 months now and I absolutely love it! I do wish that I would have been enrolled in writing for Public Relations prior to activating my twitter account. My twitter is mainly used for my own personal frame of reference, meaning I tend to stay in a “twitter bubble” and only follow those who I know on a personal level. As a public relations major I never new how beneficial twitter could be in the long run. After reading this post, I will be sure to change my bio to let people know my major and institution. I will also follow more professionals in my major. In the past, I’ve been reluctant to send @replies to celebrities or people who I don’t know, but it is a very good suggestion to change that. After all, you never know what connections you can make using a social networking website.

  3. Personally, I prefer Twitter to Facebook as it’s more user-friendly when it comes to connecting with professionals and getting some useful info.
    Anyway, great tips. I would add just one more thing: don’t try so hard. Yes, enthusiasm is great but when people tweet one thing 20 times a day, it gets boring and obnoxious. Just add things that have VALUE.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. […] September 22- Comment on Barbara Nixon’s Twitter Tips Blog – see comment here […]

  5. Samantha Glover says:

    This is my second time using twitter for class and I’m hooked! I have to admit that I catch myself tweeting FB style updates sometimes, but with advice like this it is becoming less of a problem. Your starter pack of PR professionals to follow is AWESOME! I’ve only been following them for a few days and have already been shown some really interesting material pertaining to everyday life and PR related matters. I really feel like twitter is one of those things that the more you put in to it, the more you get out, and tips like this make it so much easier to give and recieve. THANKS!

  6. As a PR student currently interning I can say that knowing Twitter is more than knowing your way around twitter.com. Be aware of other platforms out there like Hootsuite, Radian6, TweetDeck, etc and know how they can function to get the most for your clients. With a large portion of mornings spent doing online media monitoring I know that it takes more than just twitter.com to know your way around. Be aware of trending topics, platforms, using hashtags, and conversation monitoring to not only get the most out of your own account, but to showcase your knowledge to your potential employer.

  7. […] Read 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter. […]

  8. […] commented on 10.5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Twitter by Barbara […]

  9. Andrea Adkins says:

    My first response to the twitter craze was that I was NOT interested. This is because I did not know what this website was fully capable of nor how I would be able to use twitter. Even after I got the account and started to follow people, I was not convinced that I was interested. Now that I am in this class with Ms. Nixon, I am starting to see all of the uses for twitter and how it has impacted social media and they further connecting the world. Twitter, along with many other social media groups change communication as we knew it and they are leading the world in sources of information and breaking news. This is how much things have changes and shifted gears with the immense amount of technology we depend on. I am going to use these suggestions and apply them to the way I approach twitter and try to use it the way it was intended, instead of like a facebook.

    • Drea — I think almost everyone tries to compare FB and Twitter. And if someone thinks of Twitter as just a bunch of short FB status updates, I can definitely see how it would pale in comparison to FB. So glad you’re discovering how much more Twitter is!

      Barbara

  10. Kelly says:

    Professor Nixon this was great! I had a twitter back in 2008 but shortly got bored with it because I didn’t know all that it was capable of. This post gave me some guidelines I’m going to apply to make my Twitter more benificial and professional. I really want to make my Twitter more interactive and a means of obtaining important information and learning. I like that you said about“Twitter is more than a series of Facebook-type status updates.” I think a lot of students out there use it like that because they don’t know that it is meant to be used for so much more.

    Well, off to tweet about this!

  11. […] Good resource for students & those new to twitter from @BarbaraNixon [link to post] /via […]

  12. […] 2010-07-08T09:02:54  RT @Spin3202 RT@krisTK good tips for any1 RT @BarbaraNixon 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter [link to post] […]

  13. […] 2010-07-08T09:02:54  RT@krisTK good resource for students: RT @BarbaraNixon 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter [link to post] […]

  14. […] 2010-07-08T09:02:54  good resource for students (including mine): RT @BarbaraNixon 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter [link to post] […]

  15. […] 2010-07-08T07:40:57  @krisTK 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter [link to post] […]

  16. […] I looked into other articles about twitter like Nixon’s Tips for us on our assignment and 10.5 Ways to get the most out of your twitter. These really helped me into adjusting into Twitter, but it wasn’t until I read David Pogue […]

  17. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by thomas clifford, Barbara B. Nixon, Andrea G. Michnik, Kate Klingensmith, caseybritten and others. caseybritten said: RT @BarbaraNixon: [Blog]: 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter http://bit.ly/cRei6p […]

  18. Rachel A says:

    I can definitely understand the resistance. I was unaware of everything twitter does before I actually took the plunge and signed up for an account in December. I really like following famous people and television shows like E! and Glee. Before i joined twitter I used to frequent gossip web sites and now that I’m able to filter through I feel seriously up to the minute with information and am able to get real news and funny news like the onion all in one place. I also really enjoy following famous people; especially Rev Run because he puts up motivational quotes. PR professionals need to use every asset they have including the social media and if people are on twitter they need to know how to use it to their advantage. I enjoyed the tips. Before reading this I had seen the bit.ily used in tweets but didn’t know how people did it! Thank you for posting!

  19. […] Read 10.5 Ways for PR Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter. (Though this is written with public relations students in mind, you will benefit from it, too.) […]

  20. […] Read 10.5 Ways for College Students to Get the Most Out of Twitter. […]

  21. […] @coachpeterson this is geared toward college studnets but has good ideas. [link to post] cant remember who tweeted it 1st so TY 2 […]

  22. Femi O says:

    #4 is still a recurring issue and makes following PR pros and students so much more difficult. It’s not even the popularity contest. It’s sifting through friends that post facebook status type messages like you say.
    Big part of the reason I’m not tweeting as much as I used to. You’ve just sparked a (soon to be) spring cleaning of followers)

    Drapeto

  23. Just wanted to let you know that I personally enjoyed the Week of Twitter. It was very helpful and good to see another aspect of the social networking world. I plan to keep updating mine, though maybe not every day, and seeing how the experience can help me in the long run.
    -caroline rawlins
    3330 PR writing

  24. All the advice that you have listed here is very essential. It really helps us keep our Twitter accounts neat and professional. I would like for you to inform us on the other things you link to on Twitter such as four square (which I really don’t have an idea what it is yet, but I am going to it look up) and What The Hashtag (which you shared in class today) in order for students to learn how to navigate the hashtag “chatroom-like” environment. Some tips on how to locate professionals in our field of study would also be helpful. I have already learned a lot of ways in which Twitter can benefit a college student that will be seeking internships and jobs (once graduated). I hope to continue learning ways in which I can make my tweets be worth reading and in that way gain some followers that appreciate my tweets.

  25. Connect with other PR students by using #prstudchat

  26. Tom O'Keefe says:

    Great advice here! I’m sending this off to my younger brother, a freshman PR major. It’s must read material for him!

    One more thing that’s been alluded to a bit: Retweet what professionals are saying and sharing, and read (and even comment on) their blog posts. When you retweet, share, and comment, you’re not only promoting the work and thoughts of others, but showing that you’re engaging, thinking, and not afraid to put yourself out there. That can really catch some attention.

    Thanks for sharing, Barbara.
    Tom O’Keefe
    @TomOKeefe1

  27. […] Barbara Nixon discusses why she requires her students to take part in utilizing Twitter http://publicrelationsmatters.com/2010/02/24/10-5-ways-for-pr-students-to-get-the-most-out-of-twitte….  I didn’t even know what  Twitter was or how to use it “properly” and […]

  28. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by barbaranixon: What can you add to my blog post on how PR students can get the most out of Twitter? Comment here, please: http://bit.ly/9OUIJl

  29. DR4WARD says:

    Twitter (Social Media) is only as good or useful as the networks you build.
    Either you are using it to your professional advantage and get it or you do not and deserve to be out of business. Your choice.
    Doing nothing with it or using it unprofessionally are also a choice and they both get the same result.

  30. Brittany says:

    All the points touched on are PERFECT for new Twitter users. Also check out some chats, there are weekly and monthly ones to participate in. During your first time it may be beneficial to sit out and see the pace of the chat, which will help you determine if the chat is something you are interested in joining.

    Blog links are always posted usually with the title. If it’s something that catches your interests, make sure you comment and retweet the link for others to read.

  31. I would set up a personal and a professional account if you are looking to follow both PR professionals as well as celebs. If you are new to Twitter and are a student, I feel like you can make the wrong impression when people you are trying to impress look to see who you are following, and they see a list like “Lady Gaga, and Khloe Kardashian”.

    It’s fine to like and follow these people, but the folks you may be trying to impress for a job may not need to know that you are a “Little Fame Monster” or a “Dash Doll”!

    So maybe set up 2 Twitter accounts, 1 for professional and 1 for personal use!

  32. “If you find that ‘Stuart Blakely’ is always posting, ‘I had a hamburger at Wendy’s,’ or ‘I just bought my new swimsuit for my Bahama vacation,’–If that’s what he’s posting, drop him [or] unfollow him.”–Julia Clay, Brenau University

    “Come to the table with the mindset, ‘What can I offer my followers’, not ‘it’s all about me and what I’m doing.’”–Kristina Rhoades, Brenau University

    “Follow people [on Twitter] who are providing that good, quality information,” Clay said. “That’s what you want, and that’s what should prompt you to provide good, quality information.”–Kristina Rhoades, Brenau University

  33. “If you find that ‘Stuart Blakely’ is always posting, ‘I had a hamburger at Wendy’s,’ or ‘I just bought my new swimsuit for my Bahama vacation,’–If that’s what he’s posting, drop him [or] unfollow him.”–Julia Clay, Brenau University

    “Come to the table with the mindset, ‘What can I offer my followers’, not ‘it’s all about me and what I’m doing.’”–Kristina Rhoades, Brenau University

    “Follow people [on Twitter] who are providing that good, quality information,” Clay said. “That’s what you want, and that’s what should prompt you to provide good, quality information.”–Kristina Rhoades, Brenau University

    http://gca2010.wordpress.com/

  34. emily says:

    Don’t be afraid to reply to or direct message people you don’t know. If they are good at what they do, twitter gives you the opportunity to connect with important people you otherwise have no access too. If it is a legitimate comment or question, you will usually get a reply back. The same social rules don’t apply on twitter. Be respectful and professional and you’ll get an answer. Being at my 1st job for 6 months, that has REALLY helped me.

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