Third Day of #ARU10DoT: Following people

You’ve sent your first tweets, creating interesting and engaging content for your potential followers. The other side to Twitter, of course, is the stream of information brought to you by the people you follow. And if you follow people, chances are they will take a look at your profile and decide to follow you in return (which is why setting up a profile with some engaging tweets first was important!).

One of the key features of Twitter is that unlike other platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, following is not necessarily reciprocal – the people you follow may not be the people who follow you (although they might be!). There is no obligation to follow someone just because they follow you. Some people have a more-or-less even match of followers and following; others follow lots of people but don’t tweet much themselves and therefore don’t have many followers; and some tweeters, usually very well-known people or institutions, may have a large number of followers as they tweet a lot but don’t actually follow as many people, using Twitter more as a broadcast medium to get their message out there.

As an individual professional, you’re probably going to get the most benefit in the first instance for the first option, having roughly the same number of followers and following. Twitter works best as a dialogue, and this won’t happen if you’re doing all the talking, or have no one to talk to! This is true even for those tweeting in an official capacity on behalf of their department or research group, although they may have more followers than people they follow, it’s still useful to follow some people, services or institutions so you have other useful information to pass on as well as just promoting your own interests. And following people will give you a sense of how it’s done when you send your own tweets.

How many people you follow is up to you, although perhaps 100 is a good number to aim for (not all today!), to ensure a useful stream of content. Think about what sort of information you want access to, and what sorts of tweeters are likely to offer it (see the list below for some suggestions). It is an organic process and will take time to build up, and don’t forget that you can always unfollow people if the content they tweet is not useful to you! The ‘follow’ button will simply turn to ‘unfollow’, giving you this option. There are ways to find out if you’ve been unfollowed, but generally people don’t bother to check!

To follow someone, simply click on their profile (their name or picture) and click the ‘Follow’ button below their details:

So how do you find people to follow? When you first sign up to Twitter, it will suggest people for you to follow, or invite you to search for names or keywords, but this can be a bit hit and miss. Some people give up at this point, thinking that it’s all pop stars and people tweeting about their breakfast!

FollowAlternatively, you could mute certain people (some people post huge numbers of tweets which can swamp your feed) and occasionally visit their profile to catch up on their tweets. In some cases this is preferable to completely unfollowing them. To mute someone, simply click on their profile, click the gear wheel, and select ‘Mute’.

MuteAt this point, it might be useful to know who else is participating in the programme, so I’ve compiled a list of everyone who sent the tweet I suggested yesterday, so you can find and follow each other! The list also includes participants from the previous versions of the programme, and other ARU tweeters.

Here are eight more suggestions (not exhaustive!) to build a useful feed of information that might work well for you as an academic.

  1. ‘Celebrity’ academics and media dons Following well-known people and commentators in academia will give you some ideas of how to build your profile and impact, as well as offering commentary on education policy, news on developments in Higher Education, access to their own network of followers and interesting material to retweet to your followers. You could follow Education researchers such as Tara Brabazon or academics such as Athene Donald, Brian Cox, Alice Roberts, or Mary Beard, who write on academia and academic impact more broadly.
  2. Professional Bodies For updates about events, news, policy, or funding opportunities, your professional body will be very useful. Try for example the Institute or College representing your discipline (for example, The Royal Society, Royal College of Nursing, Chartered Management Institute or British Academy. There are also general Higher Education organisations such as the Higher Education Academy or its relevant subject centres which have a Twitter presence. You can also follow specific universities’ research institutes if they have twitter feeds, such as our own CoDE.
  3. Funding Bodies For calls for funding and other news, follow bodies such as the Research Councils UK (@research_uk), the individual councils or bodies such as the EPSRC, AHRC, ESRC or JISC
  4. Academic and Professional Press Education press such as @TimesHigherEd, @InsideHigherEd or @gdnHigherEd will give you access to general HE news stories which may interest you or your followers. Discipline specific publications such as New Scientist, Nursing Times or the Economist also have their own Twitter feeds, and many academic journals and publishers too, such as the various Nature journals such as NatureChemistry, or NatureMedicine.

Following individual journalists too might be a way to hear about interesting stories or even raise your own profile in the press. Many journals also have their own Twitter accounts which they may use to interact with potential contributors or interviewees.

  1. Colleagues in your discipline Following other colleagues in your field on Twitter is a fantastic way to network. Search for people you know or have heard of to see if they have a Twitter account, both senior and more junior academics. Search by name or by keyword, or import contacts from your LinkedIn account, or from your email account, especially JISCmail lists. Following the ‘backchannel’ of tweets around large annual conferences are a good way to find out who’s on twitter.
  2. Academic mentors There are several academic bloggers and tweeters who create a supportive community for other academic professionals and research students, who have really useful advice and experiences to share on the various aspects of being or becoming an academic, from writing and publication to managing your career. Useful advice to pass on to your students, and possibly useful for you too. You could try for career advice or follow @thesiswhisperer, @researchwhisperer, @ECRchat, @ThomsonPat, @NetworkedRes @earlycareerblog and even @phdcomics Do you know of any others?
  3. Public Engagement and Impact Following the university’s marketing and public engagement team and other researchers interested in impact will help you be aware of events which you might volunteer for, or interesting ways to present research to other audiences. Follow ARU’s official twitter feed. Try also the Festival of Ideas, Cambridge Science Festival or NakedScientists. You could also follow commentators such as Ben Goldacre or Simon Singh.
  4. Associated services and professionals There are lots of people on Twitter who can offer you useful information, but aren’t in your profession. Follow librarians, disability advisers, employability advisers, learning technologists and researchers, learning and staff developers… all useful people to learn from and collaborate with, and stay in touch with what’s happening around the university! Follow Anglia Learning and Teaching, The Library, Student Services, The Student Union, International Students team, Employability or Estates.
  5. Policy makers If you’re interested in government education policy, you could always follow individual politicians, the Government department for Education, WONKHE or the select committees for Business, Information and Skills or Education. You could also follow bodies such as the QAA, HEFCE, Sutton Trust or HESA.
  6. Industry and other sectors To keep an eye on developments in the sector, possible future impacts and applications of your research, or developments which might affect what you’re working on, you could follow some of the professional bodies or companies which represent the types of sector related to your research. If you’re interested in UK Government policy on science, you could follow for example individual politicians and ministers, or the relevant Select Committees e.g. Science or Health (or the equivalent in other countries).

Twitter is partly about the information you tweet, but also about the information you gain from the people you follow. Spend some time reading your twitter feed to see what comes up!

How to grow your Twitter feed from here:

Twitter will suggest people for you to follow based on who you’re currently following. This can be a bit random at first, as you’re not following many people so there’s nothing for its algorithm to work on. There are other ways to add people to your Twitter feed:

Snowball – look at the profile of the people you’re following – who do they follow, and who else is following them? You can see who’s following you, or anyone else, by going to your or their profile, and clicking on ‘followers’.

FollowingRetweets – people you follow will retweet things they think might be of interest to others. Keep an eye out for interesting retweets from accounts you don’t yet follow, and add them. We’ll cover retweeting in future Days.

Hashtags – especially around livechats or livetweeted events such as conferences. Joining a discussion around a hashtag is a good way to find more people interested in that topic or event. We’ll also cover hashtags in future Days.

#FF or #FollowFriday – this a convention on Twitter that on Fridays where you tweet the names of people you think are worth following. Watch out for these, or tweet your followers and ask them for recommendations!

Follows – you will be notified when new people follow you – look at their profile to see if they are someone you want to follow back. If you suspect one of your new followers is spam, you can ‘block’ them using the gear icon next to the ‘Follow’ button, and selecting ‘block’. It’s as well to do this, especially as people may be looking through your followers for ideas of who to follow, and it doesn’t look good if lots of your followers are spam!

So – go find some people to follow, and in spare moments through the day, watch the feed of tweets and information they’re sending.

Digital Badge

See the Digital Badges tab at the top of the screen for more information.

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is, on this blog, post the @handles of three interesting people you think others should follow, let us know why you chose them!


26 thoughts on “Third Day of #ARU10DoT: Following people

  1. Today, I have followed @royalsociety, @Science_Council and @ChemicalScience .

    These accounts will update me with information, policy changes and research in my teaching and professional areas. @ChemicalScience is an open access journal.

  2. Shameless advertisement for my tenancy support colleagues… @ARUaccom – our Accommodation twitter page for upcoming events, deadlines and information as to how students can find housing and the REC events taking place – Follow us for more information to pass onto students!

    @ARUenvironment – a range of great information of what is going on from this team of the university including updates, events etc

    @UB_UK – University Business – we receive a copy of this to our office but this provides a quick, scroll through options to find articles relevant to your faculty/ department keeping up to date with news in the sector.

  3. @RobGMacfarlane tweets about language and the natural world. A dialect word or interesting quote each day to lift the spirits. @scholastic_rat is the creator of ARU10DoT and a learning developer
    @LibGoddess for all things relating to information literacy

  4. @cyberawaregov – Cyber Aware is a government campaign that gives simple tips for cyber security. You don’t want your Twitter account hacked! ARITI also offer seminars at Anglia Ruskin about cyber security. Follow us @ARU_ARITI for information about the next session! #shamelessplug

    Any of the Catapult Centres that apply to your research. @futurecitiescat is an example of one we follow. Great for information about events and funding.

    @BBCRoryCJ – Rory Cellan-Jones is the technology correspondent at BBC News. He tweets about new technologies and tech-related issues reported by the BBC.

  5. @aurorawatchuk if you are interested in the Norther Lights or trying to see them / photograph them in the UK. Not easy from East Anglia but it can be done.

    @BEAUTIFULPlCS – something to take your mind off work!

    @oncologytube – useful updates on what’s going on in the world of Oncology.

  6. My three follow recommendations:

    @ARULibrary – important updates and news for student using any of the three campus libraries. Useful for anyone working at ARU. I help out with this account too, so I couldn’t not mention it!

    @OnePerfectShot – for the film buffs, films summed up beautifully through one image or screen capture.

    @FakeLibStats – a hilarious look at my profession through fake statistics that have a lot of truth to them! You don’t need to work in a library to appreciate this, but it certainly helps!

  7. @ChelmsCouncil – For any news related to the city
    @Cisco – For any updates on networking technology
    @Mashable – Always good for a laugh

  8. @EuropeUnion – for all news related to UE
    @TheEconomist for economic information
    @HarvardBiz for all business news

    • My three are

      Phil Race‏ @RacePhil – Assessment guru with lots to say
      Trisha Greenhalgh‏ @trishgreenhalgh – Writer and academic on Health and Social Care
      PhD Forum @PhDForum – Support for any doctoral student

  9. @ICENICentre – to learn about our conferences/courses
    @CookMedical – for supporting our Bile Duct course today
    @Karlstorzuk – for providing laparoscopic equipment to the Centre

  10. My three recommendations are

    @frenchiemanny – one of the best french bulldogs to cheer up your day
    @CILIPinfo – the chartered institute of library and information professionals page
    @gerardway – my hero in many ways he writes a lot of graphic novels and is a musician too

  11. @orkneylibrary – I worked in public libraries for quite some time and used to be heavily involved in library stock promotions so I love this, Orkney Library do Twitter so well – entertaining and informative
    @innocent – Innocent Drinks’ Twitter feed never fails to make me smile!
    @ARULibrary – I help out with this, check it out for all the important library tips and updates!

  12. @ChelmsCouncil – For any news related to the city
    @Cisco – For any updates on networking technology
    @Mashable – Always good for a laugh

  13. Very new on the Twitter, so, so far I started to follow:
    @EU_Comission (for everyone interested in new policies, publications, events, news according to European Commission activity)
    @EU_Eurostat (same reason, assume that anyone involved in researching, especially interested in European data may like to follow)
    @MarkWarnes2 (I am not really sure if we were made to follow this User couple days ago, but, I would follow it anyway! It is always good to know what people with greatest knowledge have to say (write/tweet) ; )))

  14. I’ve followed a range of organisations relevant to placements including @PlacementsUK @Gradcracker @RateMyPlacement

    Furthermore, to assist with retweeting useful information on how students applying for work experience can enhance their skill set, I’ve followed career driven tweeter accounts including @GuardianCareers and Chartered Societies including @RoyalSocBio

  15. @IDScUK – Institute of Decontamination Sciences the professional body for Medical Device Decontamination
    @TheIET – The Institution of Engineering and Technology, my professional body that gives me Chartered Engineer status, been a member since 1976!
    @guardian – The Guardian newspaper, been reading it all my life and am a tad obsessed with the online version…

  16. @AREmployability – find out about all of the events that the Employability Service provide as well as guidance and support for students
    @Prospects – careers advice and job opportunities for graduates
    @Imgur – just because it makes me smile!

  17. Besides others, I have followed @eduroamUK @ARU_ITSNews and @ARU_ITTraining during #ARU10DoT and would recommend to others as well who share same interests

    @eduroamUK – useful if you are interested in finding out about eduroamUK Wi-Fi service available in many universities around the world as well as ARU

    @ARU_ITSNews – useful if you want to stay up to date with news from IT Services

    @ARU_ITTraining – I like to latch onto any training opportunity which could potentially help me excel in my job. Hence I have followed it.

  18. @iMariaJohnsen ‏ – social media expert – area of interest for me
    @FitbitUK ‏ – As I am obsessed with my fitbit! It is a really motivational account!
    @ArtsARU – film and arts events happening at Cambridge campus

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