The final Social Scholar seminar this academic year focuses on Twitter, and in particular offers an introduction for anyone who has had only limited experience or feels that they only have a basic knowledge of using Twitter for work purposes. Matt Phillpott (SAS) will offer introductory training in using Twitter and understanding what makes for a good tweet.



Twitter has a language all of its own, entirely separate from ‘text-speak’ and certainly distant from spoken or written language. If you spend long enough moving between useful, useless, funny, serious, annoying, informative or bizarre tweets, you will begin to pick up on some of it. There are popular hashtags (itself a word with enhanced meaning on Twitter) that have become shorthand (#twittersorians for example = of interest to historians on twitter). In tweets you will regularly see letters combined ‘DM’ (let’s continue this on private messages), or ‘RT’ (a retweet – when someone has posted on their timeline a tweet compiled by someone else).

With only 140 characters available, Twitter is both instantly accessible, and instantly confusing. The tweet shown above is relatively simple. #socialscholar is the hashtag that we use for this seminar series. Clicking on it will bring up all other tweets that use it, affording an instant and useful means to search for content that interests you.


The link at the end of this tweet example has been reduced in size via This is a popular third-party app that allows you to reduce long URL’s to a manageable size, and grants the creator access to a host of statistics ranging from the number of people clicking on the link to where they came from or what type of device they were using.

This particular example of a tweet is pretty basic, offering little more than a reminder that the event is on; tweets – when created at their most complex – can do much more than this. It is surprising what can fit in just 140 characters.


Take this tweet from the @SASNews account earlier this month. The tweet includes a photograph taken live at the ‘Beyond the Digital Humanities’ conference, as part of the NeDiMAH research network project. The tweet catches the eye with the photograph, but its content is also surprisingly detailed. We have three account handles referenced – the first, the Being Human festival account of which the speaker is director, the second the speaker’s own handle and the third, the account of the project about which the speaker is discussing. In addition there are two hashtags – one for the event itself, and one that hopefully catches the eye of a wider audience interested in public engagement.

In this month’s Social Scholar I’ll touch on the language of Twitter and explain how hashtags, handles, retweets, replies, favourites and so forth, can be used successfully. I’ll also look at how to link various tweets together to form a connected narrative and what to do when you receive negative feedback on Twitter.

Event details

Date: 20 May 2015

Time: 1pm-2pm

Location: Room 243 (Senate House)

Abstract: Setting up an account with Twitter for work purposes is fairly easy, but what do you do then? This session introduces some of the tools and features that Twitter offers and looks at how you might wish to organise tweets over a day and week. We will look at, and discuss, best practice for writing and composing tweets, and how you can improve your following.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite

This post was written by Dr Matt Phillpott (SAS). Dr Phillpott is digital projects officer responsible for editing Talking Humanities, managing the SAS-Space e-repository and SAS Open Journals as well as PORT (Postgraduate Online Research Training). All information about the Social Scholar seminar is available on Talking Humanities, also check us out on @SASNews using the hashtag #socialscholar