If this article were a Twitter post, or a “tweet,” it might tell a story, or give an update on important research being done at the university – and because Twitter limits messages to 140 characters, the simpler the tweet, the better. It would probably go something like this:
“UC Davis ranked 13th out of the top 100 colleges using Twitter to communicate with its students, with an average of 33.6 tweets per day!”
Since April 2008, the UC Davis Communications team has become increasingly reliant on social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and iTunes to engage prospective, current and graduated students, said Susanne Rockwell, senior information representative and an editor for the UC Davis News Service.
“It’s not just us communicating out, and that’s what we really like about [social media],” Rockwell said. “It’s actually more of a dialogue that helps make Davis more of a community.”
According to Rockwell, services use Twitter and Facebook in different ways to keep Davis students connected.
“We looked at this study of who was using what, and it found that most [college-age people] are using Facebook, not Twitter,” Rockwell said. “Twitter is for old people!”
As a result, University Communications generally relies more on Facebook when trying to reach current students and found other uses for Twitter.
“Sometimes there will be a conference that the university is interested but can’t send anyone to,” said Kristin Burns, marketing and communications manager for UCD Admissions. “But people are sending Twitter messages about what’s happening the whole time, and we get all the information we need. It’s actually saved us thousands of dollars, which everyone feels is important this year.”
With over 30 Twitter profiles for everything from the Tennis Club to the personal page of UC President Mark Yudof, the range of information is considerable.
Students use Twitter for a variety of reasons, from the trivial to the significant. While one user might post what she had for dinner, another tweets his followers to keep an eye out for his runaway dog.
Many students remain uninterested, however. Lauren Guerdat, a third year economics and political science major, doesn’t see the appeal.
“It just seems kind of pointless and annoying,” Guerdat said. “People think that because the messages have to be short, they don’t have to actually say anything.”
Others see potential in the connections to more information.
“The message might be short because 140 characters really isn’t very many, but I can send out a message about something and include a link with more information, and then all my followers who are interested have this easy access to it,” Rockwell said. “It really just depends on the audience.”
To see the list of official UC Davis Twitter profiles, check out ucdavis.edu/social_media/twitter.html.
BRIAN GERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.