UCL runs hundreds of Twitter channels, run by faculties, departments, research centres, individual programmes, student societies, and everything in between.
It’s fairly unusual for an organisation, albeit a large one, to have so many Twitter handles. Many organisations have stringent, centrally managed social media policies, aiming to retain an element of control and consistency over social media communications. At UCL, we offer guidelines and other information via our social media website, but our colleagues across UCL running social media channels have overall responsibility. The array of voices across these social media channels build up a picture of the diversity of life at UCL.
The Communications and Marketing (CAM) office runs a few of UCL’s central Twitter channels. For a number of years, @uclnews has been UCL’s main Twitter channel, run by the Media Relations team. Other colleagues in CAM run @UCLEvents, @UCL_IntOffice and @pams_ucl.
The Twitter handle @ucl had previously been registered by a user unrelated to UCL. However, in October 2014, we were successful in a process to acquire @ucl.
Who is @ucl for?
Since UCL has so many Twitter channels targeting distinctive audiences, we decided to make @ucl the channel that brings together the highlights of life at UCL. Communicators and marketers like to define specific audiences for specific channels, and most of the time, this is best practice. In this case, however, most of UCL’s other Twitter channels were established before @ucl was acquired, with most accumulating a following of users with specific interests. UCL’s overall Twitter space was clearly lacking a handle that draws the ‘best bits’ together.
As a result, our early research shows that @ucl appeals to current students and staff, who use the channel to find out about and share top level announcements, opportunities and goings-on around campus. Alumni like to keep an eye on this information too, while prospective students get a flavour of life at UCL. Global spectators with an interest in research and innovation get a snapshot of UCL’s latest activity.
UCL is such a bustling and thriving place, there’s always more going on than we can tweet about, but the Twitter handle provides our rapidly growing following with an overview of what’s happening at UCL, much like the UCL homepage.
What’s the difference between @ucl and @uclnews?
The biggest task we’re working on at the moment is to differentiate between @ucl and @uclnews, so that internal and external audiences know which channel to follow to meet their needs.
@ucl is aimed at external and internal audiences interested in what’s happening across the UCL community, with a focus on publically intelligible information.
@uclnews is aimed at anyone interested in UCL’s news and latest research.
Followers of @ucl can expect to see highlights of life at UCL, a snapshot of the latest activity from across the university, UCL achievements and top-level practical information for staff and students. The tone of the channel is warm and digestible to the educated layperson. It emphasises an array of voices from across UCL. Typical tweets include:
Congratulations to Sudanese artist Ibrahim el-Salahi, who has received an honorary doctorate from UCL @SladeSchool
Calling all students joining us in Sept: our new students website is full of useful & practical information http://bit.ly/1hKjzcQ #newtoUCL
Followers of @uclnews can expect to see UCL’s latest press releases, coverage of UCL in the media, UCL’s latest research and links to opinion pieces from UCL academics. The tone of the channel is authoritative and focused on key newsworthy information. Typical tweets include:
Catch @helenczerski, @apontzen & @LSmonster answering listeners’ science questions on @BBCRadio4 #InsideScience http://bbc.in/1jic6Cz
Tropical forests will still exist in 2100 – but they will be a sorry sight http://theconversation.com/tropical-forests-will-still-exist-in-2100-but-they-will-be-a-sorry-sight-46437 … (@SimonLLewis of @UCLgeography)
As you might expect, there is a close relationship between these channels, and we therefore retweet each other on occasions or post about the same story, when we believe information is appropriate and interesting to both sets of audiences.
Over the coming months, we’ll be working on embedding the understanding of these two channels and their complementary purposes through staff communications, and by working with UCL’s other Twitter channel managers to help us spread the word. Do follow @ucl to see these plans unfold, and give us your thoughts.
See also: this two page document explaining the difference between @ucl and @uclnews on Twitter (doc, 16kb).