Twitter Best Practices

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Look outside your department for information that would be interesting to your readers. Create original tweets or retweet posts from both Sonoma State (e.g., @SSU_1961) and beyond campus (e.g., news websites). Aim for a mix of fact and color. Keep your tone conversational and respectful; avoid a reporting tone.

140 character limit

Tweets cannot have more than 140 characters. If you send a tweet with more than 140 characters, it will be truncated. When your tweets are re-tweeted, "RT:" and your handle (your Twitter name) will be added to the beginning of the tweet. These additional characters count toward the 140-character limit, so it is best to keep your tweets below 100 characters, when possible.


Twitter users "tag" a post by prefacing a word with the pound sign (#). This hashtag makes it easy for readers to search for posts by topic. To create a new hashtag, just include the new word (e.g., #sustainablesonoma) in a tweet. Provide some context for the new hashtag so users can grasp its meaning (e.g., "AS Composting options on campus is happening! Look for bins @ all dining venues! #sustainablesonoma").

Limit the number of hashtags per tweet to a maximum of three. Don't use hashtags at the beginning of a tweet because Twitter occasionally has technical issues that can delete these tweets. Remember that hashtags count as part of the 140-character limit.


Tweet on topic and with consistent frequency. Decide how many tweets your department wants to make per day and week, and work to reach that goal. But don't tweet if there is nothing new to say, as this can result in boring posts.


News-worthy and fun content is appropriate for retweeting because these posts promote user engagement. Tweets that provide a positive image of a department are always worth retweeting. Using the RT button rather than copy and paste helps avoid duplication and plagiarism in feeds.


Reply to a tweet or a question directed to you by clicking the "reply" button at the bottom of the original post. With this feature, you can easily add to the content or answer a question, and it automatically inserts the username of the person you're replying to. Your reply will be visible to your followers, and it can be seen by recipients in their "@Mentions" tab on their homepage.

Direct Messages

Direct Messages (DMs) are good for exchanging contact information and other non-public information. But automatic direct message responses are impersonal, so avoid using them (e.g., "Thanks for following us. Check out our website!"). Don't write anything in a DM that would be inappropriate for the whole world to see. DMs are usually private, but occasionally technical malfunctions make DMs public.

Links and Multimedia

Long URLs can use up a lot of characters. Use to shorten URLs. also tracks how many clicks your link receives, which helps you know which content interests your readers most.


Display a departmental Twitter feed on your website, giving site visitors, even those who don't use Twitter, a direct link to updates and providing an easy way to promote the department.

Official Sonoma State accounts should "follow" other official Sonoma State Twitter accounts, so we can help each other promote our programs.

More Social Media Guidelines

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