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Volume 3, Issue 7

Making Twitter Work for Small Communications Offices

Community colleges that effectively use Twitter build their brands, increase media coverage and establish trust with the public, says a communications expert.

"The conversation is already happening [via Twitter], and you need to be a part of it," says Erin Brooks, assistant director of community engagement and outreach at Township High School District 214 in Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Brooks, who previously served as media relations manager at nearby Harper College, says that more community colleges should use Twitter to pitch stories to media outlets, build relationships with reporters, lend their perspective to trending topics and effectively get the word out to their constituents. She offers the following suggestions to get started:

  • Use a social media management platform. Brooks says that communications officials who are pressed for time should use tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck to schedule tweets. She suggests supplementing up-to-the-minute tweets with scheduled tweets to keep content fresh and relevant.
  • Empower social media ambassadors on campus. Brooks says that communications officials should encourage key individuals on campus who know how to use social media—such as deans, department chairs and student services coordinators—to share and produce content about college-related news and events with a recognized hashtag. She says this stream of content can then function as something of an informal newswire, allowing the communications leader to retweet the most important and engaging content via the college's main Twitter account. (See how Brooks takes advantage of this tactic with the @District214 Twitter account by retweeting news from the district's six high school accounts.)
  • Share all types of news stories. Brooks encourages communications officials to share a variety of content via their institution's Twitter account—from profiles of students and faculty to news of their accomplishments and information about event cancellations.

Brooks will offer further recommendations on how community colleges, K-12 independent schools and small communication offices can use Twitter in an upcoming CASE webinar on Feb. 18, 2014.

This article is from the January 2014 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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