Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter is a popular social media network with millions of registered users. On Twitter, success is about being in sync with the crowd. Your goal should be to locate the right users and engage with them directly. Follow and interact with users who are posting interesting content that is relevant to your work.

First Steps

  • If you don’t have an account, sign up for one at Twitter. Use some form of your name as your Twitter name. Your handle will be the @ sign plus your name (@AuthorName). Visit Twitter’s support page for instructions on how to get started.
  • Include your book title and a link to your book page in your profile.
  • If you begin a tweet with a handle, make sure to put a period in front of the @. This ensures that the tweet will be apparent to everyone, rather than as a direct message to that handle.
  • Post to and check Twitter regularly.

Twitter Basics

  • Follow people! Start with your contacts: you can search for them using Twitter’s search function. You can also use the keyword search to find people interested in your subject area. Following others is the best way to grow your own list of followers. Go to Twitter’s search page and try some of the search operators.
  • Begin tweeting.
  • Engage with followers.
  • Promote your colleagues, your institution, and authors or writers you support. Integrating your own promotional efforts with shared links and retweets will help you build credibility and appeal to your readership.
  • Interact with colleagues attending conferences using event hashtags.

Growing Your Following

There’s no way to do this quickly without risking the wrath of the Twitter community or violating Twitter rules, which aim to control spam by, among other things, prohibiting aggressive following and unfollowing behavior. However, in addition to the organic method of tweeting interesting content and taking part in conversations, there are some acceptable ways to steadily build a following among your target audience. Here are some guidelines:

  • Follow several new accounts every week.
  • Retweet people in your target audience (without following them).
  • Use hashtags regularly (see below).

Whom to follow:

  • Create a target list of scholarly presses, university libraries, academic institutions, professional organizations for academics and librarians, and prominent scholars in your disciplines. Include any and all places where your target audience might congregate.
  • Find those organizations on Twitter and follow them and their followers using the above guidelines.

Be sure to follow our UC Press Twitter feeds (@ucpress, @educatedpalates, @educatedarts, @thisismarktwain) and send word to your marketing manager with your account name, so we can follow you back.

Promoting Engagement

Photos drive engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and many other social networking services. Tweets with images get 150 percent more retweets, 89 percent more favorites, and 18 percent more clicks than tweets without. Add an image, graphic, or video to at least a third of your tweets. The ideal image size is 1024 × 512 pixels.

Tweets containing numbers or digits get 17 percent more retweets.

Whenever you can, keep tweets between 70 and 100 characters. That allows people to retweet with a comment, which boosts engagement.

Links placed about 25 percent of the way through a tweet get the highest number of clicks. Place links in some of your tweets early in the tweet instead of at the end.

Incorporate a mix of the following types of content, listed in descending order of frequency:

  • retweets, comments, shout-outs, and questions
  • timely and relevant news from meetings and academic publishing trends
  • educational tips, how-to’s, did-you-knows
  • humor, quirky content, promotions for good causes

Using Hashtags

Hashtags can boost Twitter (and Facebook) engagement levels by as much as 20 percent. Write and place your hashtags strategically, capitalizing individual words for easier reading. Use them to

  • identify trending topics: What a debate last night! #election2016
  • enable searches: 80% of #NobelPrize Laureates in #science can point to the ways art boosted their innovative ability [article link]
  • add context: Great view! #EmpireState
  • show humor: Listen, Denmark, you can either have #Santa or Kierkegaard, not both: Canada claims the North Pole [article link]

Research and maintain an evolving list of relevant hashtags. These should include hashtags that relate to professional meetings, academic disciplines, and topical discussions, as well as mainstream hashtags that fit what you do and who you are.

  • Academic examples: #SOAS, #AAA2014, #sblaar14
  • Mainstream examples: #FridayReads, #VeteransDay, #ThrowbackThursday

Don’t overdo it. Limit your hashtags to two per tweet.

Check our templates for sample Tweet starters.