Tuesday I was at a local district’s technology conference, UTC. Our Keynote, Chris Craft, challenged us to find some new voices; meet new people and learn from them. So I met (actually through the Twitter hashtag #UTC13) some new voices to add to my PLN. SWEEEEEET! Sometimes I forget to do that.
@CathyJo, Born on Twitter April 28, 2007
It occurred to me that I take for granted everyone understands Twitter. I used to consider myself a Twitter pro. I mean come on, I have a Twitter Klout of 58 — does anyone even know what that means?? I must have signed on for it, though I don’t remember when, why, or even how it works. SHAME on me. Seriously though, I’ve been a part of the Twitterverse since April 2007, so I should have some kind of understanding of it, right? I don’t use Twitter for the Klout. No, I use it for the connections to like minded educators and tremendous learning. So I thought today I would remind people of some tips for newbies to make them begin getting those same rewards (connections, learning, and more) I get from my Twitter feed.
Twitter for the Educator –> Must Do’s
Cultivate Tweeps for your feed
Follow people you know (or want to know) or who you feel are similar in feelings, values, careers, or interests. Following Justin Beiber for me would never work as one, I have no interest in him or his thoughts, and two, he would never extend my learning or joy. There is absolutely no chance we would ever interact on Twitter, and I just don’t like him. Newbies tend to follow big names like that (Bieber, Oprah, Ellen, etc.) just to have something show up on the timeline/feed. It’s sort of like filling your plate with useless carbs. I’d rather have the meat and more nutritious items on my twitter plate. Of course to each his own. Once you identify someone who really inspires you, look at their profile and see who they follow. Sometimes it’s a goldmine. Also look to see if they have created any lists. I have a list of SC Peeps. There are any number of lists you can create for yourself or check others to see if they have lists.
Build a Profile
Make sure your profile includes something about you. When I get a new follower, the first thing I look at is their profile to decide if I will “follow” back, having their tweets show up on my timeline. Since I primarily follow educators, I like to see their educational context and at least regionally where they are from. Added bonus to me is to see that we have connections, i.e. DEN STAR, ISTE Member, SCASL, school librarian, etc. Including a link to a website, wiki, or blog helps me decide quickly too. Seeing that kind of information in the profile tells me yes, I probably have something in common with them, and I usually follow them right back. A blank profile REALLY causes me to have to work or investigate them further, and I don’t always have time for that. If I do, I usually just pop over to the profile and begin reading tweets. A blank profile is a big reason I do not return the follow of a lot of new followers. While I’m on profiles, I think all tweeps should have some kind of avatar or picture. I have ALWAYS tried to use a real picture of myself. At my first ISTE conference in 2007 (then known as NECC), I was able to connect with many Twitter friends immediately because my Twitter picture was the real me, so many walked right up and called me by name (my Twitter name, CathyJo). It’s okay to use something else, but the generic goose egg is a real turn off for me. I’m just sayin’. The Twitter Profile calls for your name, your twitter handle, a bio, your location and a link. Other than your handle, all the rest is optional. I like to be able to see your name too. If you’re a teacher and want to be more formal, use your title and last name, i.e. Mrs. Nelson. But please don’t leave it all blank. If you are worried about students or parents reading your tweets, go “protected” so only your followers can read them. But know that new followers won’t be able to tell much about you to decide to return a follow when you do that. I have gone protected only for short amounts of times for different reasons in the past, but inevitably I go back public.
Find a Twitter Client
The Twitter app and webpage are sufficient for the beginner, but if you cultivate a network through your use of Twitter, you will probably need a better client to manage Twitter. If you use multiple social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or have multiple Twitter profiles (such as a teacher one, a personal one, etc.) these Twitter clients can make managing them in one tool a snap. There are many, but I will only speak of two that I have used: Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. I am currently using Hootsuite on my laptop, my iPhone, AND my iPad. They allow me to be a “wannabe” poweruser in Twitter. Why would I use that?? I can manage my facebook account, follow hashtags, follow specialized groups, and more! I’ve embedded a video of Hootsuite below, so watch it. You might also investigate these links from the site Learn it in 5:
Get the most out of your account
You can use Twitter in a variety of ways, especially through a third party app like Hootsuite. I love hashtags, and when they are tremendously popular, such as #edreform or for me as a librarian, #tlchat, I can save these to tabs in my Hootsuite client, and look at them anytime I want with very little work. I also like to read a few people who might get lost in my feeds, so I pulled them out to have a tab too (must reads). My tabs usually contain three streams, as noted in the picture above. The tabs generally stay the same, but the streams in those tabs periodically change.
I know this slideshare is “librarian-focused” because Jennifer Lagarde presented it at NCSLMA, the NC librarians conference, last October. But it does give some really good tips for new Twitter users, so definitely go through it.