How to keep a post under 140 characters or mastering the art of the hashtag are skills President David Hodge and Head Hockey Coach Rico Blasi learned when creating their recent Twitter accounts.
Students who follow prominent figures such as Hodge or Blasi may assume that a spokesperson tweeted for them, however, both tweet themselves and try to do so as much as possible.
“I was encouraged by some of our folks in communications to do this as a way to share what’s happening with the community,” Hodge said. “I tweet particularly towards students but I also aim to alumni.”
Given the amount and variety of activity in the Miami University community, knowing what to tweet can be a challenge, according to Hodge.
“I try to choose a mixture of things I think will be interesting,” Hodge said. “I often try to do things where I can do a picture or a URL that people can go to and follow up so there’s more to it than just the tweet.”
On top of Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites, Twitter provides another mode of communication that higher-level officials can use to build relationships with students and the general public.
“I hope it adds [to my relationship with students],” Hodge said. “The one concern I have is I can’t possibly answer all the questions that get directed to me and I don’t want to feel bad if I don’t answer a question. But I enjoy the opportunity to share things with the students and community.”
Like Hodge, Blasi said he feels having a Twitter is a way to boost his relationship with students and his team.
“I just like to be connected with everybody and the team and see what’s going on,” Blasi said. “I go on there everyday. I think it provides an opportunity to see a different side of everybody.”
In his first 24 hours on Twitter, Blasi gained more than 900 followers. Currently, Blasi has 1,372 followers to Hodge’s 913.
Students said they appreciate that Hodge and Blasi tweet themselves instead of having a spokesperson handle the accounts.
“I think having them directly tweeting, as opposed to someone doing the tweeting for them, makes a big difference on their relationship with students,” sophomore Sam Burgoon said. “It makes what they are saying seem so much more real and personal, rather than their assistant saying something that will make the coach sound good. It creates a closer connection with the students.”
Burgoon said having recognizable faces tweet in an already close-knit community sets Miami apart.
“It’s probably more common for large schools to have Twitter accounts for the coaches or presidents, but it probably isn’t them directly tweeting,” Burgoon said. “As for somewhat smaller schools like Miami, I don’t think it’s common, especially directly from those people, to have a Twitter. So the fact that Miami does have those accounts makes a difference in campus connectedness.”
After his first tweet stating, “Time to see what this twitter thing is all about,” Blasi said he understands the means of communicating with students are changing rapidly, and that he just has to keep up.
“This is a new age of technology which everybody’s got to conform [to] and be a part of,” Blasi said.
Follow Hodge @PresHodge and Blasi @CoachBlasi.