To Tweet or not to Tweet…
I have to confess that as an early adopter, I jumped to create a Twitter account. However, I was a bit confused for awhile about the benefits of Twitter. I created a Twitter account and waited and waited and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. I did not get Twitter at all and almost abandoned my account (ctak10).
However, I decided to not give up and really investigate how to use Twitter. I did some more reading, tried some new things, and low and behold I discovered that Twitter is an amazingly helpful application. As an educational technologist, I have found Twitter to be my most helpful tool to learn new and important upcoming technology innovations and to also stay connected and learn from other educators.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a microblogging tool. When you use Twitter to post, you are limited to 140 characters. A post is a “tweet”. You can tweet and receive other tweets from your computer and also from a mobile device.
Following others on Twitter is the critical point of Twitter. Getting the most out of Twitter requires you to think carefully about the topics you are interested in. If you hope to gain new ideas and insights about a topic, it is important that you find those people on Twitter. For example, I want to hear more about social media technology, educational technology and elearning. Therefore, I intentionally seek out and follow people who are posting ideas, links, and posts about the topics I am interested in. When I first started, I didn’t know to do this. I created my account and waited. I learned through my research that I needed to find others to follow. But how?
How do I find people to follow on Twitter?
This is what makes Twitter valuable. If you are looking to follow a certain type of person on Twitter, it can be a bit tricky at first. For example, let’s say you want to follow, “Higher Education Business Faculty”. This will take a bit of work when using the Twitter search feature. The good news is that there are a number of websites and applications that can support effective Twitter searches. I have included links to these sites.
Once you have found someone you think you would like to follow, I would recommend that you do the following:
1. Click on the Twitter account.
2. Review a number of the “Tweets” from the profile.
How often is the person posting? You may not want to follow someone who posts 20 times a day as this can make it hard to see the posts from others that you are following. What is the person posting about? I am interested in the insights into the topics that people I am following can provide. I am not interested in following people who are posting that they just ate a bowl of clam chowder for lunch or that they just visited the ATM! Check out her website. Many people on Twitter have a website. Look right under the profile picture for a link and check it out. Does the website provide more insights for you? Is the website related to the topics you are interested in learning more about?
Creating your Twitter Account
Here is a helpful video on creating your Twitter account by Mike Hobbs. Don’t forget to turn on your sound.
After reviewing the video, create your Twitter account at twitter.com. Make sure you save your name and password in a safe place.
Practice posting your first tweet!
Post a short phrase in the “Compose new Tweet” box. Hit the “Tweet” box. You have tweeted! You will notice that you will have 0 followers and 0 people following you. You will also see that you have 1 update.
Next, seek out people to follow. Here are a couple of ways to start. I recommend that you follow TWENTY people to start. 20 is a nice manageable number that gives you a feel for twitter and how it works.
Here are a few different ways to find people to follow.
1. Log in to your Twitter account. At t he top of your page you will see “Find People”. Click this link and type in some terms. Next on the Twitter page, below your profile picture, you will see a white search box. This is a good place to search for topics. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Twitter home page. You will see a search link. Click on the link and type in a topic, region, or person you would like to follow.
2. “Twitter follow” websites:
A. PB Twitter4teachers
Many educators on twitter have joined this site. Scroll through the categories to find someone to follow. Once you find a person that you might want to follow, click on the profile and click follow. You are now following their Twitter updates.
This is a great blog post that offers a review of five tools for following people. You can check out each of the links provided to see if you can find people who share your interests.
Twitter packs provided links to educators on Twitter. It has an especially robust category for ELL teachers. There are a number of links to other categories.
Enter a “tag” (topic) you want to follow. Find people and click follow.
How do I keep track of tweets?
One thing I learned very quickly is that I needed an application to help me stay on top of the tweets. You should not feel the need to thoroughly examine every tweet posted by the people you are following. Instead, you should occasionally skim the postings and follow through when something looks interesting. Here are a few ways to follow tweets.
1. You can log in to your twitter account to track postings.
2. You can download “TwitterFox”. If you use Mozilla Fire Fox as your browse tool, Twitterfox makes following twitter very easy to use. Remember, that this only works if you are using firefox. If you are using Explorer as your browse tool it won’t work.
2. You can download TweetDeck. Tweet Deck is downloaded to your computer. It is free and easy to use.
There are hundreds of applications for Twitter but I have started with a few that I have found to be fairly simple and easy to use.
Follow these steps and soon you too will be tweeting on Twitter!