The fourth in our social media series from Louise Winters:
Not everyone likes Twitter and something you hear people say about it is “I use Facebook and that makes sense, but I can’t get into Twitter.” So why worry about it for your museum?
The answer is that lots of people do use Twitter and the fact that it is different to Facebook is actually an advantage. Different social media platforms are better for different people and for saying slightly different things. So writing a Twitter post is not the same as writing a Facebook post.
Social Media explained with donuts
Get writing: What is normal on Twitter and what isn’t?
Twitter, like all other social media is much more informal than a press release, newspaper article or even sending an email to a mailing list.
The main unique point about Twitter is you have only 140 characters* to use to get your message across. It was originally designed around the SMS (mobile phone text message) character limit so users are required to post short and (hopefully!) highly informative messages.
Another difference in Twitter is that Facebook strongly encourages users to sign up using their real name and only allow people they know to follow them, but Twitter doesn’t require this. On Twitter most users have all their tweets publicly available and posting messages to people you don’t know, who may be using a pseudonym, is normal.
The three things to keep in mind when creating a post for Twitter, in order of importance: be SHORT, be INFORMATIVE and also be CHATTY
- Twitter won’t post a message longer than 140 characters. Twitter deducts some characters when you share a URL or a photo, so remember to factor that in.
- Decide on one point you want to make and focus on that or you’ll either run out of characters or your tweet will be muddled.
- Do use some abbreviations, but make sure your tweet is still easy to read if someone is skim reading.
- Do include a relevant photo: they’re more eye-catching and can express more than words.
- Many Twitter users are interested in getting information or learning things, unlike Facebook where the focus is on catching up with family or friends.
- Do share interesting facts & infographics if relevant to your museum, details of museum events, relevant quotes, even comments from visitors on your objects.
- Do share articles or blog posts from other websites that you think are relevant to the stories your museum curates or the kinds of people / histories your museum is about.
- If you share an article or blog: take one key point from the article that is most relevant to your museum and summarise it in your tweet, alongside the link to the article.
- Users often search Twitter for specific things and you can use a hashtag (#) in your tweets to mark out words people may search for. E.g. #Essex #museums #daysout
3/ CHATTY & MEMORABLE
- Despite the short messages, Twitter is very much about conversation and being chatty. Use interesting words and photos to encourage other users to retweet your content.
- ‘Talk’ to other users by using the @ sign. If you type @+[username] the other user gets a notification and they might reply.
- Do reply if you get messages on Twitter (and any social media). Potential visitors will be more interested in your museum if they feel someone is listening to them. Remember normal replies will be public and visible to all.
- Using photographs and gentle humour is a good way to be memorable. See the tweet below that Brighton Toy Museum retweeted: “Bad-ass Bottle Baby” is a funny way to summarise the picture.
https://twitter.com/oldpicsarchive/status/855771554554294273 (retweeted by Brighton Toy Museum)
Keep writing: Things to avoid doing
Social media should be fun and informal, but there are a few bits of etiquette to keep in mind when using Twitter:
- Posting 3-5 times a day is a good amount. If you can’t post that much then it is still worth doing, but as the updates are only short it is good to post several a day.
- Don’t share information that is private or shouldn’t be in the public domain.
- Think carefully about what you post and ensure it isn’t offensive and remember that something you consider funny may be seen as an insult by others.
- Twitter posts are easily open to misinterpretation because they have to be so short, so bear this in mind when writing. Be ready to clarify if anyone posts questions in reply and keep things calm.
Do you have any question about Twitter or how to use it that aren’t answered by this blog post? There are a lot of things to cover and there isn’t space for all of them here. Please post questions in the comments below, equally if you have some good tips of your own please share them.
*For anyone that knows the SMS character limit was originally 160 characters you may wonder about the other 20. Twitter originally left space to add a unique user name to each tweet so you could direct your comments to a specific user. The reply functionality has since changed, but the character limit remains.
Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:
On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain
By Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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My website: http://louisewinters.com/