PR News Q&A: Laura Perry on the Keys to Building a Twitter Following Through Engagement 

Laura Perry

If learning a new social media platform, building a following and developing a strategy gives you a headache, Laura Perry may have the prescription to ease the pain. According to Perry, director of communications for the UCLA School of Nursing, setting goals and objectives for the results you would like to see on Twitter is the first step you should take when developing a Twitter strategy. Perry will elaborate on building a following, creating engaging content and more at PR News’ Twitter Conference on November 10 in Las Vegas. Perry, along with RF Binder’s Nada Arnot and SquareTrade Inc.’s Priya Shah, will speak on the panel "How to Get More (and the Right) Followers."

PR News: What are the core elements of an effective Twitter PR strategy? 

Laura Perry: Once you have determined that Twitter is an important tool in your communications tool box, setting a Twitter PR strategy is really no different than setting a strategy for any other communication channel—whether it is for other social media activities or traditional tools. First, set goals and objectives that fit with the rest of your communication plan (what do you want to see happen with Twitter). Determine how you are going to use Twitter—if you are going to be a follower, listener, responder, content curator or you’re developing original content or a combination of all those things. Next, do some research. What is the conversation regarding your industry and what are your competitors, subject matter experts or consumers doing or talking about? For example, we are a nursing school, not a retail brand, so we don’t have consumers talking about us. Our focus is on healthcare and how we can be positioned as a leader. Next, follow people who are interested in your field/business/industry. Find your voice (are you the brand or are you speaking on behalf of the brand). Then, join the conversation. Finally, measure your results.

PR News: How do you keep your fans engaged with your brand on Twitter?

Perry: Here are three different ways to keep fans and followers engaged through Twitter:

  1. Give them content that is thoughtful, interesting and original. The more original or useful, the more likely it is that it will be retweeted by others, picked up by content curators or gain you more followers.

  2. Host a tweetchat. You can position yourself as an expert or an aggregator of important information by hosting a tweetchat on a regular schedule or around an important topic.

  3. Prompt consumers to participate. If you are a business, it is a great way to connect with people who are interested in your business.

PR News: How often do you post new content or engage with your followers on Twitter? 

Perry: I post original content several times a week and retweet everyday—several times a day. I tweet professionally as the UCLA School of Nursing. Our brand is “Nursing reimagined. Nursing redefined.” I want people to be thinking about nursing in the larger context of healthcare, not just as they are portrayed in the media. We have faculty and nurse researchers that are doing amazing work, and our Dean has become a real thought leader in healthcare reform. I am creating original content and retweeting information that would get us noticed as experts.

PR News: How many staff are assigned to social media and much time are you spending a day on Twitter efforts? 

There are two of us that tweet—I have a student worker and then myself. We are on Twitter a couple of hours everyday—but at different times: first thing in the morning, then midday and shortly before I go home. 

Attend PR News’ Twitter Conference on November 10 in Las Vegas and learn more from social media leaders like Laura Perry.