Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Academia meets Twitter: Part 1 - TCU

This is Part 1 of a series entitled Academia meets Twitter, where professionals took part in a short e-mail Q&A session to discuss Twitter incorporation in an educational setting.

Twitter handle: @tcu
Amy Peterson
Texas Christian University, New Media Designer

From which department does the Twitter profile run?

TCU’s Office of Marketing and Communication is always monitoring the changes in the communications landscape and saw Twitter and YouTube as powerful tools to reach the growing number of people using social networks. Jess Price with the Media Production branch of Instructional Services, was instrumental in getting Twitter off the ground. He designed the profile, integrated the content, monitored the feed and responded to @Replies. He had been administering the site until I was hired in August and we are now transitioning those responsibilities over to me.

We started an RSS feed 4 or 5 years ago and used the feed to auto-populate to our Twitter profile during the first few months of its launch. The content itself comes from several sources.  We use Twitterfeed to link the main RSS feeds from Marketing & Communication and Athletics (as well as our YouTube feed) to Twitter. That means the bulk of the content is created by either Marketing & Communication or Athletics themselves—and auto-populated on Twitter. For the first several months, though, we were more or less letting our profile run by itself.

We recently decided to manually add content to Twitter (in addition to the auto-generated RSS feeds).  So far, this has included daily updates on campus happenings. We are also planning on doing some "live" tweets for big events. Our first attempt at this was done when Jess tweeted about the Christmas tree lighting while it was happening and I later tweeted about the uploaded video of the lighting. We also try to engage our followers (and non-followers who have questions) where appropriate.

As we move forward to a new semester, we're waiting to see what new features Twitter unveils next year that might shift how and to whom we share content.

How often do you monitor the profile?
I monitor the site continuously while at work and check it a few times during the evening while at home.

What applications do you use to run Twitter?
 At work I use TweetDeck and on my iPhone I use Tweetie.

Have you determined if more, students, alumni, prospective students, staff, or community members are following?
By examining the tweets, it appears we have students, alumni, sports fans, and students’ parents following us. News organizations, other colleges, and some businesses are following us as well. We decided to follow the news organizations and colleges, but do not follow any businesses that are simply trying to advertise. Our site is new and we are still trying to determine what category the bulk of our followers are in.


Vedo's Thoughts: Aside from TCU being in my hometown, I wanted to start with them as a feature to highlight the fact that they started as a broadcast-only Twitter user and have transitioned to engagement through appropriate responses.

Academia meets Twitter

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