Last time, I discussed how RIT University News and others on campus use Twitter to share information and engage with followers, and I offered tips for efficient use of Twitter via lists and hashtags. (Plus, I explained why RIT isn’t @RIT. Answer: Someone else already has the username.)
With nearly 4,900 followers, @RITNEWS is the largest and, thus, the de facto “official” RIT Twitter user (@RIT_Alumni is second with almost 3,500 followers). But there are also more than 80 other official (or at least semiofficial) RIT-related Twitter accounts in the RIT social-media directory and on the RIT Tweeps list.
It raises the question: Should there be one official RIT Twitter account to go along with all the others? It’s an issue the RIT Social Media Task Force has grappled with.
Here are some potential options:
1. Multiple distinct official and semiofficial RIT Twitter users (our original model)
2. Main RIT account tweeting (and re-tweeting) about a variety of RIT news, events and myriad other RIT-related topics (similar to the RIT Facebook model, which relies on multiple “admins” across campus posting on many subjects)
3. Primary account that’s highly interactive (Syracuse University is among the schools that tried this approach for a time. Individual “tweeps” — “tweeple,” if you prefer — would introduce themselves under the SU Twitter banner and attempt to engage SU’s followers. As far as we can tell, they didn’t see great success in generating much interactivity.)
Having many distinct users (option one) is better, in my opinion, than one official RIT Twitter account sharing a hodgepodge of unrelated tweets, resulting in little more than noise (or, borrowing an adage and putting it another way, “when you try to be all things to all people you risk becoming nothing to everyone”). Besides, anyone truly wanting it can have it all by subscribing to the RIT Tweeps list. As for interactivity, as explained last time, although @RITNEWS — as an entity — primarily shares, the people of RIT University News engage with followers.
Now, here’s my radio (or cable TV) analogy:
On the producer side, some Twitter users (organizations, more so than individuals) are kind of like radio stations and cable TV channels, offering highly targeted niche content catered to audience tastes (“narrowcasting,” in essence, rather than broadcasting). In other words, @RITNEWS is your go-to channel for news about RIT; @RITsports, the key source for RIT sports news, and so on.
On the consumer side, listeners, viewers and, yes, Twitter users “tune in” to what interests them the most: a particular radio format, a type of TV show or specific Twitter users, for instance. By following @RITNEWS, those tweets appear in users’ news feeds by choice, plain and simple.
Today, “middle of the road”-formatted radio stations are largely extinct — for the same reason a single main RIT Twitter account would be too unfocused for most users’ tastes, I believe. (Incidentally, a few months ago Syracuse University effectively shuttered @SyracuseUNews in favor of a behemoth university account. Wrong move, I think.)
On the flip side, experimenting with a single primary RIT account that might become more interactive, the Social Media Task Force has established @RITtigers — tinkering with options two and three, described above (though some say the username makes them think of sports). And although I favor option one, at least followers now have a new place to send gripes about early-morning construction noise or the heat in the library (complaints that @RITNEWS — which, by the way, is not shutting down — has fielded in the past). Still, those are possibly better directed to @RITConstruction or RIT Libraries (on Facebook).
But what do you think?
Have a great weekend,