To attract and retain followers you need to create tweets that are useful and interesting.

  • Include clear, descriptive text in every tweet. Your followers are less likely to click on a link in a tweet or retweet it if they're not sure what it refers to. Avoid non-descriptive tweets like 'we've published a news item', or tweets that just include a link without any description. 
  • Include links to things like news items, journal articles, videos and blog stories so that your followers can read more about items you've tweeted. 
  • Include hashtags when they are appropriate. Hashtags allow Twitter users to easily find tweets that are relevant to a particular event or subject. For example, we use #esrcfestival to promote news about our annual Festival of Social Science. Hashtags can help increase the number of people following you. 
  • Try not to include more than two hashtags in a tweet. It's best to include hashtags at the end of your tweets. Long, made-up 'humorous' hashtags can be seen as annoying by other Twitter users so you may want to avoid using them.

We recommend putting the descriptive text first, followed by any links and hashtags you want to include.

Example tweet
  
Although tweets can be up to 140 characters, it's good to aim for a maximum of 120 characters, including links and hashtags. This helps ensure that your tweet isn't truncated when someone else retweets it. 

Hashtags

Hashtags can be used to 'filter' content on Twitter about a particular subject or topic. You could use a hashtag to promote an event or conference, a competition, or a publication.

If you want to start a new hashtag on a topic, here are some tips:

  • Keep it short, succinct and memorable
  • Use as few characters as possible so that you still have most of your 140 characters to play with
  • Try not to change it if at all possible. It will be confusing to users to have more than one hashtag for the same event or topic
  • Avoid using #esrc-prefixed hashtags. We prefer to use these for ESRC activities and promotions
  • Read, re-read and then re-read the hashtag again. Could it be misinterpreted or does it spell something else when the words are put together without spaces? 
  • Be aware of any major events that happen on or near to a time you want to use a hashtag. If you have scheduled a tweet with a hashtag it may be worth checking the hashtag in case its meaning has changed.
  • Check that any new hashtag you want to use isn't already being used

It's ok to use 'trending' hashtags (ones that are popular now), though aim to make the tweet relevant to your content.

For example, we used the trending #thedress hashtag as an impromptu way of promoting our 50th anniversary, as the colours discussed in the dress debate were similar to those in our logo (gold, white and blue).

Handles

Handles, or usernames, can be used in a tweet to promote content to certain people or organisations, to refer to them, or to open up a conversation with them.

For example:

  • "Great event last night hosted by @twitterperson – thanks!"
    – mentions the person 
  • "We are holding an event next week. Check our website for more details @twitterfriend @twittercolleague @twittercompany"
    - this uses the person's handle to bring their attention to the content of your tweet.
  • "@twitterperson Hi, I enjoyed your presentation last night. Do you have a copy of the slides?"
    - opens up a conversation with them directly. This won't appear in other Twitter followers' home feeds. If you want to talk privately, you can use direct messaging (DM) – though that person will need to be following you.
  • ".@twitterperson is hosting an event tomorrow night"
    - refers to the person but the . means that you can mention their name at the start of the message and other twitter followers will be able to see the message on their timeline.