Day 5 of #CU10DoT: Tweeting Links and Images

So we’ve covered a fair bit in the last four days. Now it’s time to start making more from the tweets we send, so today we’ll look at tweeting links and images.

Tweeting Links (URLs)

You can’t say a lot in 280 characters – but you can link to other places on the web where a topic can be discussed at greater length, perhaps in an article or blog post. Maybe you’ve seen a new publication, item of news or a webpage you want to comment on or pass on to your followers. Perhaps you’ve just posted something on a blog or website, uploaded a resource or published an article and you want to encourage people to have a look.

Twitter works really well as a way to bring people’s attention to other, longer things online.

You can simply copy and paste a website’s URL into a tweet. However, many URLs are pretty long, and even if they fit into 280 characters, it leaves less space for you to add a contextualising explanation or comment which will encourage people to click on the link. Fortunately, Twitter has an inbuilt URL shortener, which will cut the link down to 20 characters.

You can also use other URL-shortening sites, which will cut the link down to even less. Try these ones:

  • Bit.ly (you can also track click-throughs with this site)
  • Ow.ly (you can also add links to photos, files and videos with this site, useful for spicing up livetweets from conferences or events)
  • Goo.gl (owned by Google, obviously! If you have a Google+ account, you can track statistics on click-through, useful if you’re evaluating publicity strategies for a new web resource or event)

When tweeting a link, it’s good practice to begin your tweet with a brief comment explaining what it is and why you’re tweeting it. A URL by itself doesn’t necessarily say much about content or provenance, and a shortened URL using one of the above services gives nothing away at all about what it is. Your followers will likely ignore your tweet and the link if they can’t immediately see what it’s about, where it’s from and why they should be interested.  It might be assumed that by sharing a link, you are endorsing the content so, if not, a comment stating your stance on it – do you agree, or disagree? – might be appropriate. Or is it simply that you found it useful and think your followers might too?

So what might you link to?

  • a news story about Higher Education with a comment on how it’s reported
  • a conference or funding call that’s been announced
  • a book or article you recommend (or don’t recommend…)
  • a blog post you found interesting (and whether you agree or not)
  • slides or other material from a presentation you attended (or gave!)
  • a video on YouTube or Vimeo, perhaps of a presentation or talk, or public engagement
  • something you’ve uploaded yourself. This blog is set to update automatically on Twitter whenever I post something new (which is why there is a hashtag in the blog post title! It will also become a tweet). Try and personalise the automatic update message yourself if you can.
  • your publications. There’s evidence that tweeting about your research output really helps to increase views, and therefore possibly citations, especially if you follow strategies to get your research mentioned on-line.

You’re not expected to spend time deliberately looking for links to tweet to your followers; this is more a byproduct from anything you happen to be doing online anyway. And with more and more sites including a ‘Share This’ button or buttons for the various social media  platforms, it’s very easy and quick to do. 

Adding images to your tweets

There is increasing data available (from Twitter’s new analytics service) that suggests tweets with images in them get more traction and attention from other users. So how do we add images?

  • Begin a tweet as normal.
  • If you’re using the web, click Add photo. If you’re using a mobile Twitter app, tap the camera icon to take a photo or to choose an existing photo from your gallery.
  • Once a photo is selected, you will see a thumbnail image or the image file name appear as an attachment. You can select up to 4 images to tweet at once. To remove the image file you selected, click or tap the x on the image thumbnail (or next to the file name).
    • Some mobile Twitter apps will allow you to enhance, apply a filter, or crop an image once you select it.
    • To tag up to 10 people in your photo, select Who’s in this photo? and type in a full name or an @ username and then tap Done. A person’s security settings will determine if you can tag them or not. To remove a tag, tap the tag and then the backspace or delete button. You can only do this before you tweet the photo. You can’t remove tags from a photo once it is tweeted.
  • Tap/click Tweet to post your message and photo(s). Your Tweet’s character count will update to include the pic.twitter.com URL for your photo(s).

You’re not expected to spend time deliberately looking for links to tweet to your followers; this is more a byproduct from anything you happen to be doing online anyway. And with more and more sites including a ‘Share This’ button or buttons for the various social media platforms, it’s very easy and quick to do. This is part of what we mean by being an ‘Open Scholar’ in the digital age – it costs you very little to share your useful daily digital finds with others, so why not?

Activity

See what you come across today online, and remember to tweet it to your followers! Try and include an image as well if you can (and don’t forget to include #CU10DoT).

Further reading:

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