I enjoyed being a part of Team SAJ for the Social Media Scavenger Hunt assignment.
The most challenging part of the assignment was by no means finding things and people to tweet about – that was easy. What was most challenging was the character limit. I kept finding myself in a position in which I had to either sacrifice valuable information or my pride (I have a personal disagreement with abbreviations and acronyms in public content). We strategically chose a team name that was as short and unique as possible in order to maximize the number of usable characters we had to work with while still having a relatively exclusive hashtag. Even with our short team name, I found that the 18 characters used by #TeamSAJ #BCSC202 could be better used in the body the tweet. I learned how important it is to constantly edit and re-write every tweet multiple times before publishing.
I think that the most valuable twitter technique that we have explored is the hashtag. They really help you reach a much broader audience. For example, one of my tweets included the municipal hashtag, #yeg. Unlike the rest of my posts, this particular tweet got likes from users from outside the class. I also got followed by a local plumbing business. Communications teams in organizations such as MacEwan University could use hashtags like #yeg, #uni, and #careergoals to reach target audiences that do not necessarily follow them directly.
I have noticed that many official twitter accounts tweet often, and at certain times. There are also some more effective techniques, such as the use of pictures. Pictures bring more attention to tweets, and also contain infinitely more information than can be expressed in 140 characters. Many effective tweets also prompt the audience to do something, such as reply to a question or tag a friend. By doing this, the organization is expanding its audience by making its followers do all the work. As I mentioned earlier, hashtags are also quite effective.
This assignment has taught me a lot about twitter. I barely used twitter before, but now I can see myself possibly using it occasionally, if I am in the mood.
The most challenging element of this assignment was altering my Twitter captions so that they stayed within the 140-character limit. I re-wrote each caption several times in order to establish succinct and well-worded messages; I sometimes used abbreviations that still conveyed the original message while staying within the character limit. For example, the very first Tweet I created for this assignment fit within the limit but missed the two required hashtags, forcing me to alter the caption’s wording and to use appropriate abbreviations to accommodate it.
The use of Twitter hashtags (ex. #yeg) is an strong tool for publicizing local organizations. The addition of hashtags would allow the account’s current followers to easily keep track of these Tweets and enable prospective followers to see the Tweets (and follow the corresponding accounts). Accompanying Tweets with relevant photographs, memes, and GIFs would also be effective methods of publicizing organizations; visual components may allow people to gain a stronger understanding and appreciation of these organizations and the services they offer to the community.
MacEwan maintains an attractive Twitter page that maintains a good balance between text and images. I also found that their use of polls (ex. “Why do you volunteer?) encourage students to engage with the account; the substitution of traditional text with Emojis added a fun visual representation to the Tweet while dabbling in the texting language that many university students are familiar with. However, I found the account’s video content relatively small in relation to Tweets with images; for example, while the pictures from Fall Fest were good additions, I think video footage may have been more engaging, as it would have more effectively captured the atmosphere of the festival. Similarly, while well-maintained, I believe the City of Edmonton’s Twitter account would also benefit from a higher number of videos to balance the number of text-only Tweets and Tweets with attached photographs.