images.jpgThis week is Twitter week at HighEdWebTech. Each day this week, I hope to explore an area of Twitter and hopefully share some thoughts and best practices. Of course, I’m on Twitter and you can find me and follow me here.

I think it’s safe to say that Twitter’s hit the main stream. It’s certainly a hot topic in all areas of college marketing, from enrollment marketing to fundraising.

Today, I’d like to talk about your account’s icon – that little 73 pixel by 73 pixel area in the left-hand corner of your account’s page.

Your account’s icon may be one of the most important thing you enter when you are setting up account. Seriously – and here’s why.

Your followers may not be getting your tweets at Twitter.com – they may be using a client like Twitterific, TweetDeck, Nambu, Seesmic or Tweetie. Whether you follow 15 people or 1,500, looking at people’s icons is a quick and easy way to see who’s talking and you can quickly decide if you’re going to pay attention.

If you don’t set the icon, users see this:

That’s not terribly useful. This, on the other hand, is useful:

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Your school’s icon can be your logo, your seal, your wordmark, your marketing phrase, a picture of your campus’ version of “Old Main,” just make sure your icon makes people know it’s your school. Here’s an example of an icon that’s getting cut off by Twitter.

That’s the logo for North Dakota State’s Twitter account. As you can see, the entire letter N is cut off and at quick glance, you don’t know who that account holder is. The icons for their other accounts are good, for example the icon for their bookstore’s account is good:

Here are few other ones that are getting cut off, are hard to read, or don’t clearly state what school they are :

I’m fortunate that for the past six years, I’ve had an awesome graphic designer, Penny Frank (@), working down the hall from me and we’ve collaborated on a ton of projects.

Last week, she redesigned many of our account icons. We wanted to make sure that they all had their own personality, but contained Allegheny flavor – colors, fonts, treatments, etc. Here they are, I think they’re great.

I’d love to have you post your account icons in the comments or point everyone towards a few that you think are very well done. I’ll gather them up and feature them in a post later on this week.

Amazon has announced a new program, AWS in Education, offering educational institutions and faculty access to grants to allow them to help students get hands-on experience

AWS in Education provides a set of programs that enable the worldwide academic community to easily leverage the benefits of Amazon Web Services for teaching and research. With AWS in Education, educators, academic researchers, and students can apply to obtain free usage credits to tap into the on-demand infrastructure of Amazon Web Services to teach advanced courses, tackle research endeavors and explore new projects – tasks that previously would have required expensive up-front and ongoing investments in infrastructure.

Allowing students and faculty reduced cost access is a genius move for Amazon. Why not allow students to learn their system – hoping that when those students graduate and get jobs in the field, they’ll look to Amazon as a place where they can use their skills and experience and get applications going quickly. Genius.

I’ve been using Nambu for a few weeks now, and raved about it to friends, via Twitter and on this blog.

While it’s encouraging to see the developers continue to push out new releases, the instability of the app has lead me to stop using it, for now.

While I very much enjoy the layout, ease-of-use and Mac-iness of the app, crashing everytime I send a message or follow someone just isn’t going to cut it. I’ve seen Nambu suggest deleting the application’s “database,” but that forces me to continually enter in all the accounts I was using there.

I’ll keep an eye on it, but the search continues for a desktop Twitter client that can do multiple accounts, and do it awesomely. First stop – Tweetie for Mac and Seesmic Desktop. I’m ready for my world to be rocked.