Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Academia meets Twitter: Part 5 - University of Oregon

This is Part 5 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.

University of Orgeon
Twitter Handle: @UOregonNews
Participant: Zack Barnett
University of Oregon, Asst. Director Web Communications

From which department does the Twitter profile run?
The Office of Communications supervises the Twitter account, specifically two RSS feeds from our news site, I’ve encouraged writers and PR pros in that office not to let the feeds stand alone, and to use the account to “tweet” informally about university news, as well. We use the media relations site as a clearinghouse of stories. We might not send a release to reporters, but the site might have a sidebar featuring an award. The writers more and more are using their personal twitter accounts to highlight pieces like this, but I’d also like to see them use an informal and conversational voice to communicate more than simple news headlines.

How often do you monitor the profile?
I receive e-mail notices when people like you start to follow us. Once a week I try to check out new followers to see who they are and to make sure they are not promoting inappropriate, spam-like material. Once or twice I have noticed regional journalists who are on twitter and have set the office up to follow them, hoping that the journalists will return the favor. That’s been successful a couple times. Other than that, because we use Twitterfeeds, I do very little maintenance on it other than check out new followers.

What applications do you use to run Twitter?
I believe it is Feedburner, which is not a Twitter app but an open source app that twitter leads you to. I see potential for using Twitpic and other stuff especially for emergency communications. I believe the LA Fire Dept. uses lots of cool things like cell phone video to communicate. Not sure if they use Twitter.

Have you determined if more, students, alumni, prospective students, staff, or community members are following?
For a while it seemed as if everyone was a j-school prof or student. Now we’re getting a solid mix of PR pros like you, journalists, TV stations, but I’d say it really is a younger demographic or students and recent grads.

What communication goals do you hope to meet using Twitter for your institution?
As an international research university, we should be on the leading edge of trends. Our foray into Twitter started as an experimental effort at just that. Now it augments our typical communication efforts. We offer sneak peaks at YouTube videos we use for featured stories on our homepage. For example, we might have a 300-word feature article and 60-sec. Video scheduled to be the centerpiece of the on, say, Jan. 8. I usually complete the video and post it to YouTube a couple weeks before that, then I embed the video on the Media Relations site. When I embed the video, we have a “Multimedia” RSS feed that sends a note out to our Twitter followers letting them know that a new video is posted. Then, YouTube’s insight feature allows us to track where viewers of the video are coming from. We get a fair amount of referrals from twitter in the days before the video goes live on our actual homepage. As we convince more faculty and staff to start blogging, I’d like to use the UO Twitter presence to call attention to the new posts. I’ve thought of having students Twitter, of having contests on the best tweets, or photos or various things. Lee Aase at the Mayo Clinic offers a lot of insight into Twitter and how organizations can apply it. If you haven’t visited Aase’s Social Media University, Global site, I highly encourage you to do so. I was reluctant to jump into personally, then I did and I really enjoy it.


Vedo's Thoughts: This is another example of a broadcast-only profile and it appears to be a very strong information source for the University. They are also making a conscious effort to track and measure effectiveness of their profile on other areas of communication.

Academia meets Twitter
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