The Goodies + their bike (from
The Goodies + their bike (from

Since getting into Twitter in a big way, I’ve had a fair amount of experience in running shared accounts.

@aasrn started as a shared account, and @researchwhisper has always been a joint one with @jod999.

Since starting the new job this year, I’ve also been running the @latrobe_HDR stream, and it has recently become a shared account (each of us taking turns to run it for 2 weeks).

Just today, I was asked about what I’d recommend with running a shared account.

I blurted out a heap of things to that person, but thought it might be helpful to others if I noted the key things down.

The specific context I’m talking about is formal university units or academic groups, but this advice would apply across a range of situations.

Who should run it? 

Anyone can log into a social media account and start posting things. This doesn’t mean they’re doing it right, or well.

Often, in large organisations like universities, people get handed the task and they may have limited interest in running social media. Sometimes, social media-savvy staff agitate to get their units into the conversation.

For me, this is a basic threshold list for who would be good to run a social media account. This person is:

  1. Already familiar with (or very willing to learn about) the relevant social media platforms and associated apps. Twitter is not Facebook, and vice versa, but if a person is adept at the nuances of one, they’re more likely to gain expertise in the other.
  2. Has read/understands your organisation’s social media policy.
  3. Can do basic image editing tasks (e.g. cropping, brightening/contrast, resizing, save as other image formats).

How should it be run?

  • The org must have a clear idea of audience and intent. What is the account for, and who are you trying to talk to? Remember that social media is about joining conversations, not broadcasting.
  • Knowing audience and intent should lead relatively easily to the kind of content you would carry. If you’re a university research office, for example, you might focus on the research activities and achievements of your researchers and PhD students, as well as grant opportunities, funding wins, and significant industry partnerships.
  • Create and maintain a social media manual that includes:
    • all account and password details
    • posting schedule and suggested content blend
    • suggested time investment for staff to populate the feeds and monitor/respond to feed (engagement)
    • info on the necessary associated apps, and how to learn about them (more on this below)
    • a masterlist of institutional accounts (e.g. library, research centres, schools/faculties) and staff/students who are active in the medium, and partner organisations that are closest to you. To build your account’s community, you need to be able to connect regularly with your people on that platform.

The main applications I use (and these choices aren’t based on comprehensive testing – they just work well for what I need to do):

  • Buffer (free – limited features) – excellent for scheduling tweets and Facebook updates (regular slots as well as one-off items), and offers analytics for Buffer-shortened links. Best thing about having a Buffer account for your shared streams is that anyone logging into it can see what’s already queued and when, and can change the line-up or add to it very easily. Great ‘Help’ resource here >> How to use Buffer:
  • Tweetdeck – good for keeping track of accounts and hashtags at-a-glance, can schedule tweets, and make lists easier to monitor.
  • pixlr – fabulous online image editing platform.
  • (on my fone) tweetbot – allows me to run multiple Twitter accounts from one app (I run four at the moment). Just be aware of #multiaccountfail (when you post to the wrong account accidentally)!

My favourite resources for Twitter:

I’ve found these helpful for sharing with people who are new-to-social-media in the academic sector: