Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful source of information for educators of all brands. Librarians especially love it because it's a newer (kind's been around for almost 4 years) social media technology, and because it is so easy to connect with other librarians and ed-tech folks across the state, nation, and globe.

Though currently blocked by our district's filters, you can get your Twitter account started by following these steps at home.

1. Go to and click "Sign up for Twitter."
Choose your user name, password, and other account specifics. If this will be a solely professional account, it is acceptable to use your school email address. If you want to use it for any personal reasons, use your personal email address. You can only associate an email address with one Twitter account, so keep that in mind as well.

2. Choose your other account specifics. This is where you will want to consider how private you want this account to be. Many users prefer leaving their account open to promote more interaction with other people (teachers, librarians, etc.) For me, I never post anything I wouldn't want anyone to read (a wise rule of thumb in this information age, people!), but I do prefer having my account as private to keep spammers from having the ability to follow me without my permission. With a protected account, you have to approve each and every person who wants to read your tweets. If that sounds overwhelming, you may want to leave yours open. 

3. Now that you are all set up, you can start making connections. There are some great lists out there where you can find people to follow. Maximize what you get out of Twitter by following good tweeters. (Ahem, NOT those who overshare or tell you what they are having for breakfast.) We are keeping a list of librarians from our district who tweet (look to the right side column of this blog), so if you would like to be added to that, please do let me know and I will make it happen. 

4. Consider your profile. You have already chosen a user name, and you want to be sure to include just enough information in your bio to let people know you are legitimate but not so much that everybody knows all your beeswax. People won't want to connect with you if you leave your bio blank. They might think you are a spammer or some creepazoid surfing for "friends" and either block or deny your follow request.

 Here's mine:

5. Now it's time to get in on the conversation! start tweeting by clicking the blue box with the quill. Share great resources or links you have found, share ideas about issues or trends, and definitely post questions! I've received some seriously fast tech support/troubleshooting from my Twitter people. 

6. Here is an example of what your feed will look like once you've established some connections with other librarians, teachers, etc. 

7. Learn the lingo:

"Twitter" is the website/web 2.0 tool.

A "tweet" is what someone posts.

When you start a Twitter account and begin to use it, that makes you a "Tweeter."

Your Twitter user name is called your "handle." You always include the @ symbol before your name. (Ex: @mwilson518)

A "re-tweet" (symbol is RT) is when others repeat an important tweet. This might be someone's plea for votes in a classroom contest, or it might be a great quote about libraries. Re-tweeting is sort of like saying
"Yeah, what he/she said!"

A "mention" is when you have a conversation with another user (symbol is @ and then the person's user name, ex: check out Elizabeth Hester's reply to me in the third tweet above) or when someone mentions you in a tweet of their own. (ex: check out the second tweet above when BreakingNews mentions ABC, CNN, and AP media).

Well, okay! I hope this has been a helpful mini-tutorial. If you have any questions about using Twitter or want to know more about the value of it in education today (especially for librarians), please do not hesitate to contact me!

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