I was reading this story on Cnet News about the use of Twitter during the current crisis in Iran, where Tweets are basically the only sources of information getting out of the country. Twitter has grown, in a relatively short amount of time, from a tool people use to share what they are having for lunch, to a tool people use to share interesting news and information, to a tool now that is monitoring a global crisis.
We’ve been discussing this a bit internally, but this article is making me pause and think a bit more about how we, as a university, can better utilize this powerful tool. We’ve already incorporated Twitter and other social media tactics into our crisis communications efforts, regularly updating followers when there was a swine flu issue on campus.
But Twitter now should also be about creating conversations. It happens when people sit at conferences and, when a speaker says something interesting, they tweet away. And then those conversations continue long after the conference is over. I think this is where universities, and others with large constituencies, can really tap into the power of Twitter.
Maybe we incorporate it into new student orientation and encourage people to keep talking, so that when they return to campus, they have more established relationships, which we know helps first time freshmen succeed.
Or should we be starting conversations of a more global nature, bringing it back to the resources we have on campus that can help address those issues?
I’d be interested to learn what others are doing to take their Twitter conversations to the next level. Because, despite what the article says about Twitter’s technical deficiencies, all indications are that Twitter is going to be leading the charge for some time to come.