Twitter Week: Engage your Followers

Colleges and universities are using Twitter in different ways. Some are very engaged, some are not. Some see it as a great resource and others as a great bane.

Some schools, especially on the recruitment side, monitor accounts and answer questions and some schools re-post headlines. I’m not saying that’s bad–my institution did this for the first year we had an account, though we’re getting better about being active.

Twitter is an intriguing tool beccause allows you to engage your followers in a way that you can’t do via email or a blog. It’s real time, always changing and very participatory.

I love hockey, especially the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are in the midst of a tough series against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals – but for the last couple of months, they have been using social media, especially Twitter, better then just about any sports franchise out there. You can follow them at twitter.com/pghpenguins.

They tweet updates, roster moves, practice news, scoring updates during the game, and lots more. They tweet if the big screen will be set up outside the arena so that fans can come to the arena and watch the game with thousands of other fans.

This week, they are engaging their followers in a cool way – they are holding a scavenger hunt today that’s happening only on Twitter. The prize: expensive, not to mention sold-out, playoff tickets.

What a great way to engage your audience and have them hanging on your every Tweet as they seek out a prize worth hundreds of dollars.

So, how does this relate to higher ed’s use of Twitter?

Obviously, we don’t have playoff tickets or hundreds of dollars to give away, but we as institutions can be a valuable resource.

We can help our audiences, be them prospective students or alums, figure out the scavenger hunt that can be higher ed and get the prize they want – whether its personal contact, help in submitting their application essays or how to best direct a monetary gift to an area that needs the funds.

We can ask them to come to an event or share with them a YouTube video or blog post we think they’d be interested them. We can ask for their help and their feedback, we can help them feel part of the loop and still part of the campus, even if they graduated 30 years ago.

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