Twitter as Research ToolTwitter & Student Engagement
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Last Updated: Feb 3, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Twitter Basics

 The Twitter challenge -- can you say what you need to say in 140 characters (or less)?


Our Twitter question -- how can Twitter be used (effectively) in higher education?


Some good sites to help you get started with Twitter:


(Before) Getting Started with Twitter

Things to consider before setting up your Twitter account:


  1. Define your purpose – what do you hope to achieve? This will help determine how you choose your username, how you set up your account visually, who you choose to follow, and who may choose to follow you
  2. Choose your username – this directly relates to your purpose – Do you want to be "recognized" in the Twittersphere? Do you want to be more anonymous? And, keep it short! Too many characters in your user name may inhibit conversation, retweets, mentions -- remember, each character in your username will count toward the 144 character limit in a tweet

Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, you can:


  1. Sign up for an account at --  you will need an email address to sign up for Twitter
  2. Write your “bio” – this should relate to your purpose and your username* -- and remember to keep it short -- bio's are limited to 160 characters
  3. Link to your website*
  4. Personalize your Twitter profile page with visuals/graphics – upload a “user image” – change or create a the "theme"*
  5. Follow people, groups, organizations – from address book, FB, email, browse “interests,” daily suggestions*
  6. Mining for folks to follow – the friend of my friend may be my friend too, so visit your friends' Twitter profile pages to see whom they are following -- and to see who is following them
  7. Search for topics of interest

*Can be edited, changed or updated at any time


NOTE: The Twitter default setting allows your tweets to be public – you may change this option in your account settings


Subject Guide

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Caroline Fuchs
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St. John's University Libraries
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Tuesdays 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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Other times by appointmentSend Email

URL shorteners

When tweeting, every character counts (letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.) towards the 144 character limit. When posting a web address, it is usually a good idea to use one of the URL shorteners.  Choose wisely: not all URL shorteners have been created equally -- some services offer analytics, other do not; some offer customization, others do not.

Here is a short list of free URL shorteners:


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