Getting Started on Twitter: How to Listen on Social Media


Have you heard the story of the Red Cross intern’s inappropriate tweet? It’s an oldie but goodie as far as social media horror stories go. Basically, a social media intern got confused between her personal account and the official Red Cross account and sent out the following tweet on behalf of the Red Cross: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

Does it get any worse than tweeting out messages that reference songs about getting drunk on behalf of a disaster relief organization?

We get it—social media can be scary. (And in case you’re wondering how that story turned out, Red Cross handled it perfectly by promptly sending out another tweet that read: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”)

If stories like these make you feel like you should just steer clear of social media completely, we understand. But if you’re a university recruiter, social media can be an excellent research tool to help you learn more about the students you’re trying to reach and other employers that are successfully reaching them.

In today’s post, we’re going to look at getting started on Twitter. And we’re just going to focus on how to use Twitter as a listening tool. You don’t even need an account to do any of the things we’ll be talking about, so you don’t have to worry about making any mistakes or sending any inappropriate tweets. We’re simply going to investigate what others are doing and talking about on this platform.

Sound good? Here are a few ways to get started listening on Twitter.

1. Check out other university recruiters

If you’ve never used Twitter before, you might not know which companies already have presence there. One easy way to find out is by visiting a company’s website and looking for the Twitter icon. Many companies place these social buttons right on their homepage, but if they’re not there, check their “Contact” page.

You should also be aware that a lot of companies have multiple Twitter accounts, especially if they are trying to reach a broad range of audiences. You’ll want to check to make sure that you’ve found a company’s university recruiting-specific account (if they have one) rather than their general account.

For example, let’s look at EY’s page. On the bottom right corner of the page, under the label “Connect with us,” is a lineup of social media icons.

Connect with us

But if you click on the Twitter icon, it takes you to EY’s overall company account, @EYNews.

EYNews Twitter

Since we’re especially interested in their university recruiting account, let’s go back to their homepage and find the section of their site that’s specifically for college students and recent grads.

EY Student Careers

Once you get to this page, you’ll find another set of social media icons on the right side of the page.

EY social buttons

Click on the “Follow us on Twitter” button, and you’ll finally arrive at EY’s US Careers Twitter account.

EY Twitter page

Now you can scroll through this page to see some of the recent tweets that @EY_CareersUS has sent out.

For example, this one:

EY Tweet 1

And this one:

EY Tweet 2

And this one:

EY Tweet 3

We’ll come back to the actual content of these tweets later, but I’d encourage you to go through this process with a few different organizations. Just check out their Twitter feeds and see what they’re posting. (Need a few ideas of which accounts to check out? See our post on the Top 5 UR Twitter Accounts.)

2. Search for hashtags

Hashtags are one of the common features of Twitter. They help label content and make it easier for people to search for things.

Let’s go back to the example of EY. Some of the hashtags they use in their recent posts include #millennials, #careers, and #BetterWorkingWorld. Each of these hashtags is a link that you can click on, and it’ll take you to all of the tweets that also contain the same hashtag.

Here’s what you can find when you click on the “millennials” hashtag.

millennials hashtag

The top of the page features tweets that include photos, and as you scroll down, you can see other recent tweets that include this hashtag.

millennials hashtag 2

3. Find other people who tweet about the topics you’re interested in

As you scroll through the list of tweets, pay attention to who is using the specific hashtag you’re interested in. You can click on the Twitter handle to go to that person/company’s page.

For example, I think this post from Glassdoor Employers sounds pretty interesting, and they sound like they would probably tweet about topics that are pretty relevant since they also use the hashtag “recruit,” so I’ll click over to their Twitter feed to see what else they’re tweeting about.

glassdoor for employers 1

When I get to their Twitter feed, I discover that my hunch is correct—they regularly tweet about topics related to recruiting and millennials.

It’s useful to find thought leaders or organizations like this since they can help you find new ideas and improve upon your own university recruiting efforts.

glassdoor for employers 2

As you’re taking time to explore hashtags, you might want to check out your company name. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account yet, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t tweeting about you!

Now that you’ve seen everything that’s out there, I hope you’ll see the benefit of starting an account. At the very least, it’s a way to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and connect with other people and organizations. Next week we’ll continue by talking about some of the cool things you can do once you’ve created your own handle.

The next step: Spend some time playing around on Twitter. Make a list of 15 to 20 accounts that are tweeting about topics that are relevant to you and your audience. This could be other university recruiters, organizations like AfterCollege or Glassdoor that offer advice on university recruiting, news outlets, or other thought leaders who offer job search advice for college students. Pay attention to some of the common hashtags, too. There may be a quiz on this in next week’s post!


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