Before you read the rest of this, let me say a few words. I am by no means an expert in Twitter (@edudemic) and do not claim to be. Twitter, like every other social media tool, is just another piece to connecting you with online resources.
Whether you’re a new user of Twitter or a seasoned expert, the following tips are meant to act as a refresher for anyone feeling like Twitter hasn’t been doing as much for them as they’d hoped.
Twitter can be a rewarding yet cumbersome tool that requires constant supervision. That means it could be very difficult to manage for most full-time teachers, administrators, and really anyone who has responsibilities. If you haven’t yet signed up for Twitter, don’t let this caveat stop you.
Like any social network, you should dip your toe in, spend some time absorbing, and then figure out if it can fit into your life. If you simply have no time to manage your Twitter account and hate even logging in, then Twitter is not going to be a very powerful tool for you. But if you’re willing to devote at least a little time and attention to Twitter, you can learn, connect, and evolve in ways like never before.
So how should you go about using Twitter on a daily basis? The following tips and recommendations are based on my personal experience with Twitter. Your experiences will likely be different so I’ve tried to keep these as general-yet-specific-enough so they’re helpful for anyone.
If you’re like me, you follow a ton of people. Whether it’s hundreds or thousands, your stream can quickly become a relentless flood of information, insight, and nonsense. You don’t want to add to that nonsense by simply over-sharing or over-tweeting.
What is over-tweeting? In my opinion, it’s simply tweeting too many things at once. While you may feel each of your tweets is important (they probably are), you won’t reach your audience in a friendly way by blasting out tweets too fast. Instead, try to stagger your tweets so they flow out over time.
While there’s no hard and fast number for over-tweeting, use your best judgement. If you feel like you’re tweeting a bit too fast, take a break and just be a reader for awhile. A final point to make about why you shouldn’t over-tweet: people use Twitter at random times of the day. If you send out your 10 best tweets in rapid succession over a single hour, basically everyone will miss them. Spread the love!
If someone tweets out something you find particularly helpful, you may head over to their profile page and click the big ‘Follow’ button. But what happens in a few months when you’re browsing your Twitter stream on your mobile phone and that person starts tweeting out particularly unhelpful things? People change. Don’t be surprised if what they talk about on Twitter changes with them. Therefore, make a concerted effort to go through the people you follow and remove anyone who hasn’t been very helpful for a long time. I do this on a monthly basis and it’s kept my stream from filling up with unrelated or uninteresting (to me) tweets. While this recommendation may seem quite simple, it’s something very few people do.
Twitter users, whether new or old, must learn a constantly evolving language. The lexicon of Twitter is varied, confusing, and important. If you don’t know the difference between MT and RT on Twitter, you should spend a few minutes today reading through our Ultimate Twitter Guidebook. If you know that MT means ‘modified retweet’ and RT means ‘retweet’ then you should congratulate yourself as being an intermediate user of Twitter.
To truly earn your black belt in Twitter, you should probably know every single listing in our A-Z Dictionary of Twitter Hashtags. Even if you don’t want to become a black belt user, it can’t hurt to brush up.
Hashtags are a big part of what makes Twitter a social network. They allow users from around the globe to follow all the tweets about a particular topic. While this can be very difficult to follow for some popular hashtag chats (#edchat!), they can be a powerful tool for users of any skill level. Using hashtags is as simple as doing a search. Just head over to Twitter (or your preferred Twitter app) and do a search for a hashtag like #edchat. You’ll then see a stream of tweets all about that particular topic.
Of course, hashtags are not a perfect system. Many users forget to include the proper hashtags or make up their own. This means they won’t show up in your search for a particular hashtag. Therefore, I also recommend to do regular searches for simple words and phrases. Want to narrow down your search? Just search for something far more precise. For example, search for ‘iPad overheating issue’ rather than just ‘#apple.’ Stuff like that.
Hashtags aren’t all sunshine and gumdrops though. Like any tool, they can be easily abused. As a reader, keep an eye out for hashtag spam. That’s basically the unrelated spammy tweets where someone just wants to have their tweets seen by people following a particular hashtag conversation.
A second warning is to you as a tweeter. Don’t overuse hashtags in your tweets. If you just tweeted a few words and then spent the rest of your 140 characters writing out hashtags…you’re doing it wrong. Include one or two hashtags if your tweet is relevant. Otherwise, cool it with the hashtag overuse. And with that, I’ll stop using the word ‘hashtag’ for the rest of this article.
If you’re like most people on Twitter, you’re not a company looking to sell a product that wants to obtain the most Twitter followers at any cost. In fact, you’re probably a teacher, student, or administrator looking for some helpful advice if you’re reading this article.
Since you’re really not out to get more followers than Lady Gaga, don’t ever make that your goal. I’m not saying you should be psyched for when you hit 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 followers…just don’t make that the reason you tweet. You need to make your Twitter account a natural extension of YOU. If you just tweet whatever you think others will want to read in an effort to get some more followers, you’ll get bored.
So what should you do to make it personal? Tweet about what you’re passionate about. Love education, surfing, and the color green? Then tweet about that stuff and follow other people talking about that stuff. Simple as that. That’s the magic formula for Twitter.
If you can follow that magic formula and make Twitter as personalized as possible, you’ll get a big return. However, it’ll take quite some time to find the best people to follow for your chosen topic. Don’t let that discourage you if you’re new to the service. Just use Twitter so it’s fun, educational, and entertaining. After all, isn’t that how school, work, and life in general should be?
What are your favorite Twitter tips you’d share with others? Use the giant Twitter button below to share your own Twitter tips!