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Using Twitter

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to post short messages that show up in the Twitter feeds of the people who choose to follow your account. Twitter offers instantly updated information for just about any number of topics. Twitter allows only 280 characters per post, so you must tap into your creative side to make your message fit this limit while also remaining relevant to your audience.

Why should I use Twitter and how can it help my department?

Twitter is a great way to connect with your target audience instantly. You can post about an event, share tips, promote your programs, and you can even ask engaging questions.

If you need to get a message out quickly, Twitter is the place to post your information. This is one of the few platforms that will also allow you to post multiple times without appearing to spam your audience.

Twitter also gives you the opportunity to learn about your audience as well. What are they interested in? What kinds of questions are they asking about your particular area? How do they feel about a particular topic related to your area? What are the latest trends in higher education? Twitter can be an educational and exciting adventure when managed correctly.

Did you know that Twitter also has advanced search features? If you’re interested in learning more about a particular topic and you need to search for specific information, you can narrow your search in several ways using Twitter’s advanced search.

Learn more about using Twitter at

How do I get started?

Starting a Twitter account is simple, but the most important thing to do before starting any social media platform is to ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do I have the time to manage this account along with my other duties?
  2. Do I have enough content to promote?
  3. Does my target audience use this platform?
  4. How will this platform help my department?
  5. Who will manage this account?

If you are planning to become an officially recognized social media account with Norfolk State University, your department must designate two administrators who will be in charge of those accounts. If you have not done so, please fill out the form to apply here.

Once you have decided that you want to go ahead and start Twitter, the next few steps are pretty easy.

Go to and sign up for an account.

Enter your e-mail address, password, and agree to Twitter’s Terms of Service.

Optimize your account for Twitter searches

In order for the NSU community to connect to our social media accounts, they must be able to find the accounts. One of the best ways to build our network and to make sure your fans can find you, is to optimize your account by using words that clearly identify you as a Norfolk State University channel.

One of the best ways to do this is to choose a username that best represents your account and the University. You should also choose a name for your account that also represents your specific department and NSU. For example, our channel has the name “Norfolk State University” but our username is @norfolkstate. Usernames are character limited so be creative when coming up with one for your department.

A carefully selected name is the most crucial part of being found in searches.

Make sure the name includes words you believe will be used when searching for the profile: NSU, Norfolk State, Spartans, etc.

Customize your profile

Use the column on the right side of your account page to upload a profile picture, write a short bio, and set up Twitter on your mobile phone so you can post tweets from anywhere.

The one line bio will appear with the username and name in the search results. Use this area to note your relationship to Norfolk State University if your username and name have not already made this clear. For example, only using “NSU” may create confusion since there are other universities that use the same acronym.

Know the rules

Once you establish an account, you want to keep it in good standing, so make sure you’re following their rules.

Make sure you do not:

  • Impersonate others through the Twitter service.
  • Publish or post other people’s private and confidential information.
  • Publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.
  • Use the service for any unlawful purpose or for promotion of illegal activities.
  • Create serial accounts for disruptive or abusive purposes.
  • Engage in username squatting.
  • Use’s address book contact import to send repeat, mass invitations.
  • Publish or link to malicious content intended to damage or disrupt another user’s browser or computer or to compromise a user’s privacy.
  • Use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone.
  • Use obscene images in either your profile picture or use background.

Start Tweeting

Put on your creative hat, think of a cool hashtag, find a great photo and type up your first tweet. Be sure to stay within the character limit and tag other Norfolk State University accounts in some of your posts to grow your channel.

Include links: Drive followers to your website from tweets. Inbound links also improve your page rankings with search engines.

Quick tip: Use a link shortener like to save space in your tweets.

Tweet regularly: Appoint more than one person to tweet if needed to continue regular content.

Understand why people follow you: If your followers want information about the group you represent they probably don’t want to know daily activities. However, if you are a NSU celebrity, your followers are more likely to be interested in your life events.

Follow others: This allows communication between you and your followers and is part of Twitter etiquette.

Re-tweet: Tweet the content posted by another Twitter user that is relevant to the organization or department that you represent as it will show up for your followers.

Use hashtags: Hashtags consist of using the # symbol followed by subject words such as #ColoradoState or #FortCollins. They help organize information, make tweets searchable, and are conversation drivers.


Research external applications that are designated to help Twitter users enhance the Twitter experience.

Spend time engaging people who are interested in similar topic areas. This means identifying the most influential social media users in your niche area.

Use photos in your tweets. This is practically a necessity in getting your audience's attention.