Is your university Twitter profile perfect?

Things to say, and things to not say, in a campus biography

January 8, 2015

“There are a lot of different ways to craft a bio in Twitter,” writes Inside Higher Ed blogger Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) on the US website’s Student Affairs and Technology blog.

“A lot of schools like to use something like ‘the official Twitter account of ______ University’ or ‘Tweets from the University of ______’,” he points out. “This is a fairly standard practice.”

However, there are institutions that have allowed their social media managers to depart from the norm, the blog reveals, before naming some colleges that have “crafted interesting Twitter bios that…instantly pique our curiosity”.

Among those featured is the University of West London (@UniWestLondon), which has a biography that states “95% of our graduates find employment within 6 months”.

“A bit of bragging is never a bad thing in the ultra-rich higher education environment that is London,” the blog says, praising the Twitter account for letting potential students know “exactly what happens if you earn your degree at UWL”.

The University of Kent’s account (@UniKent) is also highlighted because its biography points out that it is “looked after by Allie 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri”. This “gives you an immediate connection to the fact that there is someone who will be there, ready to answer, if you tweet at them,” Mr Stoller says.

He is less kind about Queen Margaret University (@QMUniversity), which (at the time of writing) has a biography that reads: “This is the official Queen Margaret University Twitter page, maintained by the Marketing & Communications Office. All information posted will be genuine.”

“80% of this bio should probably be rewritten,” Mr Stoller writes, although he adds that this might be “too harsh”. “I had to add this account to my list because of the last sentence. Perhaps it’s supposed to be serious or maybe it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but ‘All information posted will be genuine’ immediately grabbed my attention and made me smile.”

Other universities making the list include the University of Melbourne (@unimelb), which opens its biography with the phrase “Tweet large” – a call to action that the blog says “requires more context”; Macquarie University (@Macquarie_Uni), which has a biography that states “50 years, still different”; and Brock University (@BrockUniversity), which is, it says, “for both sides of the brain”.

Inspired by the blog, we had a look at some of the other claims made by university Twitter profiles – and we weren’t disappointed.

As “one of the UK’s leading research universities”, the University of Warwick (@warwickuni) is “not afraid to upset the apple cart”, according to its Twitter bio; Teesside University (@TeessideUni) is “growing and inspiring others to do the same”; Stirling University (@StirUni) is apparently “renowned for its beautiful, inspiring, safe and modern campus”; and Swansea University (@SwanseaUni) wants to assure its followers that it is “still #makingwaves”.

“A bio on Twitter has so much potential to concisely share the spirit and zest of a place,” Mr Stoller concludes.

“Everyone gets the same 160 characters on Twitter to make their bio interesting to a potential follower. Thankfully, there are schools that have decided to forgo staid and/or bland bios.”

Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to chris.parr@tesglobal.com

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