If you’re like a lot of school administrators, Twitter may seem like a bit of a mystery. You know your students use it. Maybe even some of your teachers and parents use it. But perhaps your school hasn’t quite jumped on the Twitter train yet.
Now may be the time to get on board. In June 2015, the number of active monthly users on Twitter crossed 300 million for the first time. Twitter has become much more than a place to share funny quips and random updates about what you had for breakfast. Today, Twitter is a powerful broadcasting and community-building tool. It’s one of the many social media tools you can use to distribute important information, engage with your community, and highlight your school’s successes.
What helps make Twitter so popular is that it’s completely free, and it’s simple to use. Once you spend a bit of time learning how Twitter works, you’ll be amazed by its simplicity. Even social media newbies can get the hang of Twitter quickly.
If you want to have a robust communication and engagement platform, then there’s no question that Twitter has to be part of your toolbox. Before you can start tweeting and, though, you have to set up your Twitter account. Fortunately, the process is pretty painless. Not sure what steps to take? Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through it. The entire registration and profile set-up process won’t take any longer than 15-20 minutes.
Once your have your Twitter account up and running, check out this article on Four Ways Schools can Use Twitter to Increase Engagement.
How to create your Twitter account
Creating a Twitter account for your school is extremely simple. Start by going to Twitter.com and fill out the information in the “New to Twitter?” box. You’ll then be guided through a very short registration process.
1. Choose a dedicated email address
There are a couple of important things to remember when you’re registering. First, Twitter has a 1:1 rule when it comes to email addresses. That means that you’re only allowed one Twitter account per email address. Some schools will create specific email addresses only for the purposes of registering for Twitter.
Twitter only uses your email to send you notifications and to send you password info should you ever become logged out. Think about which email you’d best like to use for those purposes. Then make sure that account isn’t associated with any other Twitter accounts.
2. Create a memorable username
The other important point in registration is that you’ll use this time to choose your username. If you’ve ever seen Twitter or read about it, you’ve probably seen names that start with the “@” symbol. These are Twitter usernames.
Your username is how people will mention you and tweet at you on Twitter. For example, our twitter name, or handle, is @campussuitecms. If someone wanted to tweet at us or mention us in a tweet, they would simply include our name in the content of the tweet. That would initiate a notification and bring the tweet to our attention.
Now, Twitter has a character limit of 140 characters per tweet. When people put your username in a tweet, the length of that name counts towards the limit. That means that you should opt for a name that is short and simple.
For example, your school may be called George Washington Carver Elementary School, but @georgewashingtoncarverelementaryschool takes up 39 characters. That doesn’t leave much room for more content if people tweet at you. Instead, maybe use @gwcarverschool, which only takes up 15 characters. Create a username that’s easy to remember.
How to setup your school's Twitter profile
Once you’ve created your account, you’re live and ready to start tweeting. However, before you get going you’ll probably want to take a few minutes and update your profile. Your profile is the page that people see when they click on your username. You should take time to update all of these areas as soon as possible. When people see profiles that are missing information, they tend to assume that the page isn’t active. You don’t want to create that perception of your account.
1. Select a strong profile picture
Your profile picture is in every tweet you post. Your profile picture should be something that is instantly recognizable to your followers and associated with your school. It could be a picture of your mascot or your school logo. You probably want to avoid pictures of specific students.
2. Pick a cover photo
You’ll also need to choose a cover picture. These are typically something bigger, such as a nice landscape photo of your building or a wide shot of a classroom. You can get creative here. The composition of the cover photo should contrast with the profile picture.
3. Complete your description
You now need to describe your school in short order. 160 characters to be accurate. That’s not a lot of room, so you need to be succinct with your description – also referred to as your bio. At the very least, it should identify where your school is located and contain your school’s website address. Here’s a great example from Mariemont City Schools in Ohio:
Award-winning Ohio public school district serving students grades K-12 in the Columbia Township, Fairfax, Mariemont and Terrace Park communities.
Changing and editing your account information
If you ever want to change your profile, you can do it quickly and easily. When you’re logged into your account, you’ll see your profile picture or avatar in the upper right hand corner. Click on it and you’ll see an option that says, “View profile.” Make that selection.
You’ll then view your full profile page. On the right hand side, in the middle of the screen, you’ll see a button that says “Edit profile.” Click on that button and you’ll be able to make changes to any portion of your profile, including the photos, descriptions, and your profile color. When you’re done, simply click “Save changes.”
Start tweeting about your school
Now that you know how to create a school Twitter account, you’re ready to start tweeting. At the same time, however, you're going to want to start following other Twitter accounts that relate to your school. Students, parents, community members, media outlets, professional associations and even other schools. Listening then responding to others in the Twittersphere is what social media is all about.
After your account is established, your focus will be on building your list of followers and coming up with a content plan to determine what kinds of material you should be tweeting. For help with that and some how-tos on using Twitter, watch this video produced by the Campus Suite Academy: How to Use Twitter to Improve School Communication.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jay4schools.