Here are a few tips before beginning your journey on Twitter.
When first signing up for Twitter, there are three key items to keep in mind.
- Real Photo - Choose a photo that represents you or your school. By default you are assigned an egg as your profile photo, this is associated with newbies and more importantly spammers. If you want to be be taken seriously on Twitter, set your profile with a real photo.
- Short Username - Because you are only given 140 characters on Twitter to get your message out, it's important to create a short username. If anyone likes your post and wants to share (or ReTweet) it, a long username will cut down on the amount of space you have to respond or RT it.
- Accurate Bio - It's also important to have an accurate Biography in your profile. Once you start making connections on Twitter, other educators will look at your bio to see if their interests match up with yours. You don't have to go into great detail about your location but at least put your state or territory so others in your area can connect with you.
Who should I follow?
Hands down the first person that should be on your list of educators to follow is Jerry Blumengarten. Jerry taught in the New York City school system for 32 years before retiring to Florida. He now says, he works more than he did as a teacher! Jerry has taken his love of teaching and created a treasure trove of educational technology information on his website Cybraryman. His new "job" is to help others through social media and also virtually visit classrooms as a guest speaker. He is also the moderator of #edchat which is one of the most popular hashtags about education on Twitter. Jerry has put together a wonderful list of educators to help get anyone started. He has also broken the list down into subject areas for his "PLN Stars." PLN or 'Professional Learning Network' is what we're all building by connecting with educators on Twitter.
What should I use?
After performing the initial setup of your Twitter account on Twitter.com, it is highly recommended (especially for those new to Twitter) to use another app called Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Personally, I prefer to use Tweetdeck on my laptop or desktop. On the iPhone, Hootsuite is best. You'll find that once you start following different hashtags, that either of these apps will keep the confusion to a minimum. Both services allow you to link your Twitter account and keep all the people you follow, any mentions of you, and all the different hashtags in their own neat columns.
How do I keep track of everything?
The amount of people can get out of hand once you start really diving deep into Twitter. Once you start following your favorite teachers, celebrities, companies, and sports figures it can be pretty daunting watching your feed fly by. So how can keep everything organized? Twitter has a wonderful feature called lists. You can take some of the people you're following and put them in a categorized list. For instance, I have a list dedicated to all the NFL related Twitter accounts that I follow. Instead of sifting through the tweets of everyone I follow to find NFL related information, I just use my list. You can create lists however you wish and also share them with others.