Social Media at the Commons: Twitter

So, what is the big deal about Twitter now-a-days, anyhow? Here at the Commons, during our social media workshops, patrons often ask if Twitter is still relevant. Who uses Twitter? What is it “for?” For whom does one craft nifty little 140 character sentences?

Twitter has been a game-changer in many regards. As a micro-blogging platform, it has upended more traditional forms of media consumption by allowing journalists and laypeople to have live “news” feeds of their own, separate from any official affiliations. Many studies have been done that show that Twitter has allowed protesters to organize, political unrest to spread faster, and generally has democratized our global connectivity in unprecedented ways.

Twitter is also a great place to build networks and connection with people you can’t reach as easily in the physical world. Twitter allows you to follow, tweet at, retweet, and hold discussions with everyone from politicians, celebrities, normally elusive authors, to your professors and classmates. Along with freedom comes the risk of making career-ending mistakes. We all remember the “tweet heard around the world” by Justine Sacco, a PR professional headed to South Africa, who said: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” See the 2015 NYTimes Magazine piece aptly titled, “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.

Here are some Twitter usage tips to keep you in the game, but out of the fray:

  1. Don’t tweet something you wouldn’t say in front of people whose opinions you value. Your tweets are a public record of what you think. Twitter wars may be cute for the PR-hungry glitterati, but when you’re trying to build a brand on professionalism, best to stick to what you truly believe in and are willing to repeat loudly in a crowded room.
  2. Retweet, reply, and respond often. This builds relationships with other Twitter users. No one likes to read a steady stream of consciousness of your random thoughts without some real content there.
  3. Remember that once you Tweet something, it’s on the internet forever. Screen grabs are a thing. If you don’t believe in your tweet, hit delete BEFORE YOU HIT SEND.
  4. Be nice. No one likes an internet bully.
  5. Have fun!

You can visit our guides to learn more about how we recommend you use Twitter here. Don’t forget to follow the Commons on Twitter @PennWIC.



Jaime Marie Estrada teaches social media workshops and does individual and group consultations on most social media platforms at the Weigle Information Commons every Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. Come visit her with all your personal/professional branding and digital storytelling questions.


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