Core social media channels: Twitter instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction must be used when planning the creation of an RMIT-affiliated Twitter account. Ongoing management of the Twitter account should be informed by the best-practice approach provided within this instruction to ensure that the University’s social media presence is well maintained, with fresh, ongoing content of interest to an RMIT audience. The instruction is designed to manage risks to staff and RMIT reputations and enhance positive communications, research and business outcomes.



Instruction steps and actions

Instruction (including key points)



1. Getting started

1.1 Consult the RMIT Social Media Register for accounts that overlap with your area of interest or specialisation. If they exist, consider a collaboration rather than setting up a new account.

1.2 Formulate a content strategy before setting up a new account. Research commissioned by Digital and Customer Experience Strategy indicates that Twitter is a key tool for engaging with RMIT’s student population. In contrast to Facebook, Twitter sees a number of professional and academic staff tweeting on behalf of RMIT; the majority of current Twitter accounts promote the University’s curriculum, services, clubs and societies.

1.3 Complete the Request to open an official social media account form (DOCX) available through Digital and Customer Experience Strategy. If this form is not completed, your account will not be recognised as an official RMIT presence, and therefore not added to the Social Media Register. It will not be promoted or linked to via the corporate RMIT web presence.

On a practical level, the form will help you to plan and define a purpose for your account by asking for a statement of purpose and technical requirements, measures of success, audience, proposed content and life cycle of the account. Completing the form gives shape and structure to your social media presence and avoids the issues of abandoned accounts and outdated content by supporting a long-term approach.

1.4 Research who within your targeted network is working with Twitter and ‘follow’ accordingly. ‘Following’ a user essentially means you have subscribed to their tweets, which will subsequently appear in your timeline. Note that if you only follow a few people but one of them tweets far more than the others, then your timeline may appear to be dominated by one person. Follow a good spread of users with different levels of post frequency to give your timeline a balanced feel.

1.5 Search for keywords related to your field using Twitter’s inbuilt search function and take note of the ‘who to follow’ suggestions. Consider carefully who you chose to follow and list, as well as the tweets you ‘favourite’ and the images you use – these choice have the potential to reflect on your reputation and that of RMIT.

1.6 Consult RMIT’s Brand (Visual Identity) Policy for guidance on appropriate branding and imagery including use of the University’s name and logo.

1.7 Note that under the Social Media Policy, staff using social media at RMIT must undergo training. See the Opening an Official Social Media Presence Procedure for more information. See also developMe on the RMIT website for details on training sessions for Spokespeople and Associates at RMIT.


Before approval

2. Setting up and managing the account

2.1 Complete the Twitter biography field, identifying your name and position at RMIT, as well as contributors and colleagues on your Twitter team. Include a link back to the relevant section on the RMIT website for your school or department.

2.2 Keep a record of all login usernames and passwords. Share the details with your team and store them in case you change jobs or fall ill. See RMIT’s Password standard policy for the steps to be followed when choosing and storing passwords.

2.3 Contact the Interact team ( before your account goes live so the corporate RMIT Twitter account (@RMIT) can follow you. Consult the Social Media Register to connect with other relevant RMIT accounts.

2.4 Be wary of spammers. If someone wants to follow you on Twitter, find out who they are before following them back. Twitter has an option for blocking and reporting spammers.


3. Goals and audience

3.1 Think carefully about the audience you want to reach and its needs, and define your goals accordingly. RMIT classifies Twitter as a ‘Core’ social media channel. According to the Social Media Policy, it should serve as a key point of interaction with current students, prospective students, alumni, researchers, academic staff or general staff. If you want to use Twitter for academic purposes, follow the Social Media for Teaching, Research and Collaborationinstruction.

3.2 Use Twitter’s ‘@’ function to interact with relevant conversations. Follow the conversation for a while before joining in. As in real life, do not ‘butt in’ but think about what value you can add to an already existing conversation between two or more other users. The more value you can add without seeming intrusive, the more you will attract followers, increasing the chance of forming your own organically developing network.

3.3 Due to its 140-character limit, Twitter is ideal for short bursts of information. As well as items relevant to your field of interest, work or research, consider sharing and ‘retweeting’ a diversity of news, resources, events, observations and insights on popular topics (especially, if, say, your research is in a niche area). As a guiding principle, make sure you mostly tweet and retweet articles of relevance to your followers. Be interesting, engaging and relevant to that audience. Follow the Web Content Policy for guidance on tailoring your content to meet the needs of your audience within the University and the needs of a global audience.

3.4 Consider third-party tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to schedule tweets in advance and monitor mentions and messages (refer to the Social Media at Events and Conferences Instruction and Social Media for Campaigns Instruction for best practice use of Twitter to monitor campaigns and promote events).

3.4.1 Tweetdeck is helpful when searching for mentions of keywords related to an area of interest.

3.4.2 Hootsuite has useful analytics for measuring the effectiveness of your tweets, as does the URL shortening service Bitly. Once your URL is shortened, you’ll have more space to for the composition of your tweet. You will also be able to track the effectiveness and reach of your custom links via Hootsuite and Bitly’s inbuilt analytics tools.



4. Posting

4.1 Aim to cultivate a personable tone, respectful of those with whom you interact.

4.2 Use the '@' symbol to talk to others in a tweet. This means your tweet will show up on the other user’s timeline (e.g., ‘@RMIT thanks for the enrolment information’). Note: including ‘@username’ at the very start of a tweet means that only people who follow you and the user you are addressing will see the tweet in their stream. If you include a full stop before ‘@username’, then anyone following either you or the person being addressed will see the tweet. This is useful, for example, when you are conversing with a particular user but voicing something of interest to a wider audience. You can see replies to your own tweets by clicking the ‘@’ symbol on your profile page.

4.3 ‘Retweet’ tweets from others if the content is interesting to your audience. Essentially, retweeting means you are forwarding on another user’s tweet to your followers. Use ‘RT’ before a username (i.e., RT @RMIT) to signal you are quoting the tweet verbatim. The tweet will appear on your followers’ timeline and the timeline of the person you are retweeting. Note that the native Twitter interface and some third-party application feature a retweet button, removing the need to manually write ‘RT’.

4.4 If you edit someone else’s tweet before retweeting it, which you might do to conserve space, use ‘MT’ (‘modified tweet’) instead of ‘RT’ to signal that the tweet has not been reproduced exactly as written. If paraphrasing a tweet, use ‘via @username’ to suggest this.

4.5 Use ‘hashtags’ (represented by the ‘#’ symbol) toorganise posts and create and surf trends. Many ‘trending topics’, that is topics listed on the Twitter home page that are being tweeted and retweeted the most at any given times, have # before them, eg. ‘#lordmcalpinelibelcase’. Twitter users use the # symbol when talking about a specific subject so other users can click on the hashtag term to aggregate tweets on that topic.

4.6 When representing RMIT, respond to tweets critical of the University as soon as possible. General tweets addressed to @RMIT should receive a response within one working day. Consult the Moderating User-Generated Content on Core Social Media Channels Procedure, Spokespeople and Associates on Core Social Media ChannelsProcedure and the Moderating Social Media Instruction for further advice.

4.7 In the case of a University crisis or emergency, RMIT’s Communications team will take the lead on all RMIT social media. With Twitter, retweet any such tweets from the RMIT corporate account. Do not tweet yourself or comment on the situation. See the Moderating User-Generated Content on Core Social Media Channels Procedure for further information.

4.8 Where relevant, check with RMIT partners and internal or external stakeholders before tweeting news concerning them. Refer to the Moral Rights Policy and Privacy Policy for guidance.

Spokespeople and associates


5. Administrators

5.1 Determine who has administration access to your account. Keep a record of all login usernames and passwords. Share the details with your team and store them in case you change jobs or become ill. See RMIT’s Password standard policy for the steps to be followed when choosing and storing passwords.

5.2 Administrators must follow the Moderating User-Generated Content on Core Social Media Channels Procedure and the Communication with Current Onshore Students Policy.

5.3 Students must not be named as administrators on official RMIT-associated Twitter presences. This does not apply to student groups such as Clubs and Societies.

5.4 For accounts with a finite life span, ie. with a year date in their title, ensure there is plan for accounts to be archived under the Deleting and Archiving of Social Media Procedure.

Spokespeople and associates


6. Moderation

6.1 Follow RMIT’s Moderating User-Generated Content on Core Social Media Channels Procedure and Managing Inappropriate and Unauthorised Users on Social MediaProcedure when moderating and monitoring Twitter content.

6.2 Administrators should monitor and update pages on an ongoing basis, at least daily, for efficient responses to any problems that may arise and to ensure an engaging, interesting presence for visitors. A stale account can impact on the RMIT brand more negatively than if there was no account at all, as it could give the impression that the University is not enthusiastic about engaging with its target audiences.

Spokespeople and associates


7. Life cycle

7.1 An account that has not been updated in six months will be marked for deletion and archiving by the Senior Social Media Analyst, following the Deleting and Archiving of Social Media Procedure.

7.2 Problems or concerns regarding the use of an RMIT-associated Twitter account should be reported immediately to the Senior Social Media Analyst.

Spokespeople and associates


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