5 Twitter Tips for Newbies

I think that every teacher should use Twitter to supplement their personal professional development. It’s authentic, immediate, easily accessible and constant. The ability to connect and learn with educators from all over the world is amazing. You, the user, are in total control of what you want to learn or who you want to connect with. The only drawback to Twitter is that it’s kind of hard to understand when you first start. With the @ sign, the hashtags, composing, replying to a tweet and following a conversation can be confusing and frustrating. This frustration can essentially lead to a teacher giving up on Twitter.

Here are five tips that I have come up with to share with the Twitter newbies in your district or professional learning network when they are first getting started with Twitter.

1. Create a professional bio starting with an image of YOU. I know that you might have a cute dog/cat, a smokin’ hot wife/husband and a beautiful family, but people want to see who they are following and interacting with. Be as clever or professional as you’d like with your bio, but remember you only have 140 characters!

2. Follow 300 “people of interest” when you first sign up for Twitter. These could be fellow educators in their content area, educators out of their content area, professors, keynote speakers. Anyone that has anything to do with education. You get out Twitter what YOU want. If you want celebrity gossip, follow celebrities. If you want to learn, grow and collaborate as an educator follow all things education. If you follow someone and don’t like what’s coming from their stream, unfollow them. It’s okay!

3. Lurk and learn for six weeks. That’s it. Don’t stress over what to share with that first tweet. Sit back and lurk. Pull out your phone to check your Twitter stream when you have an extra minute or two. Read articles, monitor conversations. Examine how people share with images or by retweeting material. When you are comfortable, begin the process of going from consumer to producer.

4. You are not going to be able to read every single tweet. Quit trying. This was my biggest obstacle when I began with Twitter. I couldn’t keep up. I was frustrated. Luckily, my mentor told me it’s a continuous conversation and you can never keep up. It’s not even worth trying. Which leads me to my next tip, hashtags. When I found hashtags, Twitter took on a whole new meaning for me. Hashtags gave me the ability to follow what I wanted to follow.

5. Find hashtags that are relevant to you and begin examining the content that is associated with those hashtags by searching. Still struggling with hashtags? I know, I did as well. I called that symbol a pound sign when I was younger. Now it’s a hashtag?! Here’s the simplest way I’ve found to explain hashtags to teachers that may not understand what hashtags are. Think of a hashtag as a television channel. Once you’ve found a hashtag that interests you, search it and watch it. A lot. Just like you do with your favorite television channels. How do you find good hashtags? @cybraryman1 has created an amazing list of pretty much every hashtag imaginable that is related to education.

Good luck in your Twitter journey. I hope these tips help. I know I am thankful for each and every person in my professional learning network on Twitter. I have learned so many things from them. Joining Twitter was the best decision I have made in my professional career.

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