twitter white on black cube

In this series of blog posts I offer tips on how to make the most from your tweets.

I’ve written before about how best to use Twitter and how Twitter is ideal for building communities and engaging with others. But it still surprises me how many regular Twitterati still don’t know how to get the best out of Twitter.

In the second of my mini-series I look at one of my biggest Twitter bugbears.

stop sign

Stop using auto-generated tweets

One of the worst offences on Twitter is setting up tweets that are automatically sent when news and/or updates are added to a website. They lose all the built in functionality that Twitter enables – personalization and engagement with others, and the whole ethos of community building.

Here’s a good example:

WWT: Extremely high mortality rate in Madagascar Pochard chicks revealed: A new study has found that the vast …

Here, the title and first line of the article are used to produce a tweet with a link to the article. It uses 136 characters only because the auto-tweet function cuts off the text at a given point in order to add the URL – and this sometimes makes for very odd reading. It’s sort of OK as it takes you to the article, but it doesn’t look great, lacks structure and it fails to engage with others within the Tweeter’s community (in this instance with the WWT).

Removing the auto-tweet function and adding a human being to write the tweet could produce something like:

Extremely high mortality rate in Madagascar Pochard chicks revealed by @WWTconservation study

This brings the impact words to the start of the tweet and adds WWT’s @username in order to engage them. You never know, they might even see it and retweet it to their followers – one of the aims of engagement and community building. And some of their followers then might decide to follow you too. It also engenders goodwill with WWT and they’re more likely to retweet you in the future. Job done!

And here’s another example of how an automated tweet completely fails to engage:

BTO: How BirdTrack and BTO survey data helped convict Allen Lambert: Nick Moran explains how BirdTrack and BTO…

This is what they could have achieved with the same content:

How @BirdTrack and @_BTO survey data helped convict Allen Lambert. The BTO’s @sconebirding explains in @BirdGuides

The revised version links the different Twitter users being mentioned and so increases the chance of it being picked up and retweeted by them as well as engendering community.

I’m sure many of those who use auto-tweeting don’t understand how poor it is on many levels and don’t understand the engagement potential they’re missing out on. But if this is you, then reconsider how to you use Twitter and engage with others – for your own benefit.

Note: this post was written when the tweet character count was only 140 characters.


More social media blogs from the BOU

Tweeting better – #hashtags and retweets
Making social media and the web work for you
Social media is relevant to your research
The benefits of blogging about your research
What is Altmetric?
What do you mean you ‘don’t know how to optimize your paper for SEO?!
Twitter – building an online ornithological community
The global ornithological online community
Ornithological Twitterati, Tweetie-pies and #birdieluv

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