Twitter User Guide

Twitter User Guide

Twitter is one of the fastest and simplest microblogging websites. Whereas Facebook’s strength lies in connecting with people you know, Twitter’s strength is capturing the “buzz” of the moment using tweets, links, trends, and hashtags.

Twitter 101

  • Hashtags (using the number sign with a word directly following it, such as #uchicago) automatically create a link in Twitter that compiles all the tweets mentioning the topic. You don’t have to register a hashtag with Twitter; just start tweeting it.
  • Hashtags count toward the 140-character limit on Twitter, so keep it short and obvious. For instance, in promoting the event “Zen meditation at Rockefeller,” you could use the hashtag #ZenMed.
  • You can use the hashtag in the context of what you’re tweeting. An example: “Find your inner Buddha during #ZenMed. Only 4 more days to sign up!
  • Or you can use it at the end of your tweet … “Finals week getting you stressed? Chillax: #ZenMed #uchicago”
  • Pick out relevant terms from the Twitter Glossary

Getting Started

  1. Go to and enter your name, e-mail, and preferred username and password, then click “Create my account.” Try to pick a username that is short, easy to remember, and contains words or names users might search for you with.
  2. Twitter will send you an e-mail. Confirm and activate your new account by clicking the link in the e-mail.
  3. A page will appear that says “Find sources that interest you,” with lists of suggested users to follow, broken down by area of concentration. Click the “Follow” button to follow users that interest you. Click “Next” when you’re done.
  4. The “Contact Import” page will appear, allowing you to find people in your e-mail address book on Twitter. Click “Next” when you’re done.
  5. Go to your account settings to add a profile picture, bio, or website URL, or to adjust the design of your profile.
  6. Type and publish your first tweet! Tweets must always be 140 characters or less, which includes all links, usernames, and hashtags.

Best Practices

  • Accounts must be set to either public or private—there is no way to display tweets to just a handful or users. Tweets from private accounts will not appear in search results and users must request permission to follow you.
  • Tweets that begin with another user’s Twitter name—also known as “Replies” or “Mentions”—will only appear in your feed, the mentioned user’s feed, as well as the feeds of anyone who follows both you and the mentioned user.
  • If you need to share private or personal information with another user, always send a Direct Message (DM) instead of a public Reply. DMs are only viewable to you and the other user, and can only be sent to users that follow you back. For safety, never share sensitive data on any social media platform.
  • Retweets (RT) are one of the easiest and most popular ways to spread information through Twitter. Simply click the “retweet” link under a tweet you would like to share with all of your followers. It will appear in your feed regardless of whether other users follow the user who posted the original tweet.
  • There is no limit to how often you can or should tweet. Develop a flexible posting schedule that complements the times your target audience is the most active. (Tweets are now limited to 1,000 per day. Information can be found here.)
  • It is important to avoid any overtly “spam-like” behavior. Here are some suggested techniques to avoid while using Twitter:
    • Repetitive or misleading tweets
    • A “robotic,” or impersonal tone of voice
    • Over-reliance on Trending Topics as tweet subject matter
    • Never replying to users
    • Using third-party applications that send an automatic DM any time a user decides to follow you.
  • If you mention a user in a tweet, and they do not respond or decide to follow you, do not continue to actively pursue them.
  • Twitter is meant to be informal. Take note of the type of language and attitude that elicits the most responses.
  • All University policies concerning plagiarism, profanity, obscenity, and discrimination are applicable as you represent the University of Chicago.
  • Identify alumni by degree and year using UChicago style. Arrange multiple degrees in chronological order, from earliest to latest. For example: “Janet Davison Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, named ’11 #UChicago Alumni Medalist.”

Tools & Resources

There are many third-party applications that can be used with Twitter, making it easy to broadcast live events, host contests, pull data for research, and much more.

  • Always use a URL shortener when linking to an outbound web page. With only 140 characters per tweet, every word and letter is very important and some URLs can be very long. Twitter now has their own short URL service,, and there are many more, such as (which features it’s own Analytics tools),, and
  • Photography (especially mobile photography) is increasingly becoming one of the most popular uses for Twitter. Free-to-use sites such as TwitPic, yFrog, and Plixi provide easy ways to upload photos and sync with your account.
  • Twitter 101 For Businesses – Twitter has created this helpful collection of documents for marketers and companies hoping to maximize the success of their campaigns, featuring more best practices, a “Twitter Glossary,” advertising information, and more.
  • Some of the more popular Twitter applications include:
    • Official Twitter Apps – Depending on different technology needs and preferences, Twitter has developed an application for almost everyone. In addition to a variety of mobile apps, those using Mac OS X version 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or newer may download the desktop application version of Twitter from the Mac App Store.
      • Mobile: Twitter currently features official mobile apps for iPhone & iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 8.
    • Echofon – Another free Twitter client that synchronizes your computer and mobile device, ensuring that you never see the same tweet twice. Echofon is available as a plug-in for Firefox or as a Facebook App.
    • Mobile: Echofon is currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.


Many third-party Twitter applications and URL shortening services (see above) feature built-in analytics tools. However, Twitter does not currently offer any official analytics tools, except for selected users. There is speculation that Twitter is currently developing these types of tools and will soon unveil them for all users. Other popular Twitter Analytics tools include:

  • Twitter Counter – With this tool you’ll be able to find out more about followers, friends, tweets, absolute and relative growth, as well as analyze trends and export data into a .CSV file.
  • Tweetstats — This is the best way to find out how many times you tweeted daily or monthly, as well as learn more about your replies and mentions.
  • Tweetreach — Tweetreach creates graphs and pie charts that analyze your tweet types and how many times they’ve been viewed using any and all Twitter applications.

Examples on Campus

The following are a few examples of Twitter at the university. Contact us and let us know of some good examples of Twitter on campus.

  • The Pritzker Podcast (produced by students of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine) maintains a lively, yet casual Twitter account where they hold discussions that help inform the content of their podcasts.
  • The University of Chicago Magazine’s Twitter feed features retweets of news and information from all over campus. This provides a snapshot of what’s going on in different University departments, and helps other campus communicators who may not have as many followers.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (published by the University of Chicago Press) provides writing tips, news of interest to copywriters, and promotions, all with a sense of humor. It also pays attention to others’ loving mentions of the Manual and retweets them.

Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about using Twitter, or if you have feedback on this page.

Connect and collaborate with communicators across the University.

Join the Campus Communicators to share updates and announcements with University colleagues via listhost, Facebook, and at workshops and biannual gatherings.

Find an array of UChicago new media sites, as well as contact information for their owners, in the Social Media Directory.

Create targeted communications campaigns and digital platforms.

Work with UChicago Creative’s team of designers, writers, and producers to develop compelling materials and comprehensive multimedia campaigns.

Enlist University experts to build, design, and support your web applications by partnering with Web Services.

Discover resources to enhance your communications platforms and outreach.

Follow social media and multimedia from across the University at UChicago Social.

Collect and disseminate our latest stories with print-on-demand news.

Capture the images and ideas of the University community.

Enlist UChicago Creative to produce expert videography.

Book the TV studio for broadcast interviews.

Book the sound booth for remote radio interviews.

Align the look and language of your communications with those of the University.

Find best practices for the use of our logo, typeface, color palette, and editorial style within our visual identity.

Build and refine social media sites using our social media guide, and find web writing tips in Web Services’ multimedia content guidelines.

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