Second Day of #ARU10DoT: Sending tweets

Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters, which doesn’t seem much. In academia, we almost always write at length about complex ideas, so it’s difficult to say something meaningful in such a short amount of text. But that doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial or only used to tweet about frivolous things. Many people, especially in an HE context, who are new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates about whatever they’re doing would be interesting to others. But there are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of very practical use to others. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from academic tweeters and see what kinds of information they share, to get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 140 characters.

The appropriate tone for a professional Twitter account doesn’t need to be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. In fact, you’ll have to be a bit informal if you want to fit everything in, using abbreviations and even textspeak! Even if tweeting on behalf of a department or group, you need to be engaging rather than formal. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that your tweets can be kept by others, even if you delete them (more about this on Day 10). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context.

Some examples of what you might tweet about:

  • an article you’re reading that’s interesting or a book you recommend
  • an online resource you’ve stumbled across
  • a workshop, webinar, seminar or conference you’re going to – others may not have known about it, may want to meet you if they’re also going to be there, or may want to ask you about it if they can’t make it
  • a new person you met today who might be a good contact for you or others in future
  • some insight on academic work from an incident that happened today
  • advice, tips or insights into how you teach or research for students or other colleagues
  • a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
  • slides from a talk or lecture which you’ve just uploaded online
  • your thoughts on an education or other news story relevant to your work
  • a funding, project or job opportunity you’ve just seen
  • a digital tool or software you’re using or problem you’ve solved with it
  • a typical day – an insight into an academic’s life or moral support
  • your new publication or report which has just come out (there are ways of mentioning this gracefully!)

Sending a tweet is really easy – when you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a box in the middle of the screen at the top, which says ‘What’s happening?’ If you click in the box, you’ll be able to write your tweet and then click the ‘Tweet’ button. You can also use the feather quill pen icon in the top right of the screen to compose.

Day 02 - 01 - NEW TWEET BUTTONS

Remember – you’re only able to write 140 characters including spaces. A small counter below this box tells you how many characters you have left. It will stop you once you go over and highlight how many characters you need to delete. You’ll soon develop a suitably concise style, and learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.

This bit is important – For this second Day of Twitter, as your first message, please send the following tweet – we’ll explain why later!

Joining in #ARU10DoT with @ARU10DoT and @markwarnes2!

Over the next week, we’ll be sending the following ten types of tweets. For today, though, just send a few of the first type of tweet over the course of the day, using the examples above. You could include the hashtag #ARU10Dot in your tweets – again, we’ll explain why later!

  1. A simple message – what are you up to? What kind of event or activity might your intended following find interesting, personable or quirky? You could let them know about an upcoming event they were unaware of or might also be present at, a thought about your research or work that’s just occurred to you, or just show that you’re approachable and share common experiences. Don’t agonise over it though – Twitter is ephemeral in many ways!

(no’s 2-10 are examples of what we’ll be moving on to over the rest of the week)

  1. An @ message directed to someone. Ask someone a question, comment or reply to one of their tweets, thank them for a RT or welcome a new follower. NB: don’t start your tweet with the @ sign, as then only the people that follow both of you will see it! Either include their @name later in the message or add a full stop . before the @ if it’s at the start.
  2. Send a direct message (DM) to someone. What kind of message would need to be private in this way?
  3. A link to something interesting and relevant you’ve read online, or link to a journal or book. Twitter will automatically shorten it using Twitter’s automatic tool or you can manually shorten it using third-party software such as tinyURL, bitly or ly Add a bit of context or comment on it!
  4. Ask a question of your followers – crowdsource their views, ask for tips or advice or recommendations on a topic of mutual interest! Perhaps ask them to retweet (i.e. ‘pls RT’)
  5. Tweet a link to something you’ve shared online recently – a profile update, slides from a conference presentation, handouts from a workshop. Many platforms can be set up to do this automatically when you update, such as blogs, SlideShare, Storify, LinkedIn, and so on. Add an engaging and contextualising comment!
  6. A retweeted, quoted tweet from someone else. Don’t just use Twitter’s retweet button – start with your own comment, then add RT and the @name of the originator or retweeter
  7. A tweet incorporating a hashtag which links to a wider discussion. Search for your chosen hashtag first, to get a sense of what others use it for and what the discussion has been, and what you can add. Look at tweets from followers for hashtag discussions to join, make one up and see if it’s been used, or try adding something to an existing hashtag such as #studychat or #infolit
  8. Livetweet an event of some kind, even if only for 10 minutes. You might try a research seminar, conference presentation or lecture. It’s polite to ask permission from the speaker. See if there is a hashtag for the event and if so, use it. Practice summarising the event and distinguishing your comments from the speaker’s
  9. Take part in a livechat on Twitter: #UKedchat, #ECRchat and #PhDchat are popular ones

We’ll look at nos. 2-10 over the next few days. If you can think of any more professional uses for Twitter, then do add them in the comments, or tweet about it!

If you’re thinking of tweeting in an official capacity, then think about the balance of your own announcements to other information (Twitter is still a conversation, not an announcement service, and too much one-way, impersonal promotion will turn off your following!).

So – send a few tweets, now and perhaps throughout the day, following suggestion no. 1 from the list above! Make sure that when people check out your profile from yesterday, there’s some interesting and engaging content there! Watch for tweets from us at @ARU10DoT and tweet back!

 And remember to tweet Joining in #ARU10DoT with @ARU10DoT and @markwarnes2

 

 

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First Day of #ARU10DoT: Setting up your Profile

Welcome to Twitter, and to #ARU10DoT!

The first thing you need to do is to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword, as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:

Twitter is a conversation.

Setting up an account on Twitter is the easy part! There’s still a few things to think about, though, in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile using

  • your handle (@name), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you
  • your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their twitter feed, on a quick glance
  • your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage
  • your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will sum up who you are and why people might want to follow you
  • the overall look of your twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it
  • and additional accounts, which you might want to set up to appeal to different audiences (you will need to use different email address to do so though, as each is linked to a separate account)

If you already have a Twitter account, then you could use this post to refine your profile and your overall aims and audience.

What purpose do you want to set up an account for? With Twitter, you can have more than one account (each linked to a different email address), as, unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, it is not limited to single real life identities. Many people will start off with a personal, individual account to get used to Twitter, and then think about other ways in which they might use it to represent a group or service. For example, I’m both @markwarnes2 for individual professional conversations, and also @ARU10DoT for this programme! You might wish to set up an impersonal account to publicise your department, service, or other activity such as a conference team, journal, research group, module or programme like this one.

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the site to set up an account.

  • You’ll firstly need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up and create an account. Different accounts will need separate email addresses.
  • At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym which people associate with you in some way. Don’t worry – you can change this later without losing your followers or tweets, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. If you want to set up an account to represent an activity or group, then something which will be memorable, clearly be identified with any known branding of your activity, and work well on publicity will be essential.
  • The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but I recommend you skip this step for now – we will look at it on Day Three! Twitter will ask you to follow at least six people before you can skip on to filling out your profile – I would suggest you follow these accounts as a good start:

@markwarnes2 (me), @ARU10DoT (this Twitter feed for this course), @angliaLTA (Anglia Learning & Teaching), @ARULibrary, @AngliaRuskin (the University’s Twitter feed), @ARU_StudentServ (Student Services)

The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel more encouraged to follow you.

  1. Upload a profile picture. When skimming through a twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be of you, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers in real life at conferences! Full body pictures work less well as at the size of a thumbnail image, it’s hard to pick out your face!). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name, as long as it’s striking. If you are setting up an account for a service then the service logo is an obvious choice, but do check the policy on the use of University logos with the corporate marketing team. Make sure the image is clear enough, as it appear as a small icon. Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer! You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more.
  2. Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture (like Helen Webster, for example, who calls herself @scholastic_rat), your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’ – again, useful at conferences! If you use Twitter to represent a department or group, then the ‘full’ version of its title, especially if your @name is an acronym, would be something to add here.
  3. Add a location (this could also be an institution or other affiliation). Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university or HE body you are affiliated with, lending you credibility and authority.
  4. Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. You can have only one, so perhaps your university webpage, if you have one, would be most appropriate here. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
  5. Add a ‘bio’. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to encourage people and give them a reason to follow you. Again, a blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting. If you intend to tweet in a professional capacity, then avoid too much about your hobbies and family or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. It tells potential contacts nothing about why they might want to follow you or what kinds of information you are likely to be passing on to them, and therefore why they would want to network with you professionally. Some people like to add that they are “tweeting in a personal capacity” or that the “views are my own” to clarify that their tweets do not reflect the views of their employer, although you may feel that this is clear enough anyway.
  6. You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter – is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?

People will often view your profile page when deciding whether to follow you, and you might add the URL (i.e. https://twitter.com/MarkWarnes2) to your profile page (e.g. on your email signature or business card) if you want to ask someone to follow you, so it is worth making it informative and distinctive. It will also be an important part of your publicity if you’re tweeting in a group capacity for your service.

Editing your Profile and other Settings

You can change all the information you entered while registering by clicking on the Edit Profile button:

Day 01 - 01 - NEW PROFILE

In addition, you can change your Header image – the one that sits behind your avatar. Click the ‘Save Changes’ button when you’re happy with the results.

To change other settings, click on your small Profile Picture at the top of the screen, and select Settings. In Settings, among other things, you can request your Twitter Archive and access accounts that you have Muted or Blocked (which we will cover on Day #8 – Managing People).

Day 01 - 02 - NEW SETTINGS

You can create more Twitter accounts from other email addresses for other aspects of your life, and it’s best not to mix content and audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them or confuse them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Now, to let us know how you’re getting on, why not leave a comment on this blogpost with your Twitter handle and a link to the URL of your profile? Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know by leaving a comment! If you’re finding it hard to get in touch through the blog, do email me at Anglia Learning and Teaching.

So – now you have a Twitter account, with an engaging profile which invites others to follow your tweets.

That’s enough for Day One!

 

New iteration of #ARU10DoT for March!

We’re running another iteration of Ten Days of Twitter for Anglia Ruskin in March!

If you’d like to encourage your colleagues to join you on Twitter, if you’d like to go over some of the Days again if you missed some of the programme, or even if you’d just like to follow colleagues’ progress on the #ARU10DoT hashtag and encourage them as they join the community on Twitter, then spread the word, or join us!

The programme will be launched on 17th March, and participants can register on the Anglia Learning and Teaching website. If you just want to follow along, make new contacts and offer support and encouragement, then keep an eye on the programme blog here, or follow us on Twitter @ARU10DoT and using the #ARU10DoT hashtag. This iteration will be tailored for academic staff, but others are welcome to join us too.

Day Ten of #ARU10DoT: Past and Future

Twitter is ephemeral. Tweets are short, throwaway observations, which capture the present moment, flow past quickly and are succeeded by more recent and relevant ones. We’ve looked at a way to favourite tweets, and to bookmark the URLs they may contain, but once you’ve done this, why would you want to keep a tweet? Why would you want to tweet in advance, rather than in the moment?

The Past

You can scroll through your last few thousand tweets or so (which might cover quite a span of time, depending on how prolific you are) but searching and looking at hashtags won’t take you back very far, only a few days. And yet… although finding past tweets might be difficult, they can come back to haunt you. If you want to find a tweet, it might be quite tricky, and yet if you want a tweet to disappear, someone may be able to dig it up!

Deleting Tweets

Let’s look first at deleting. You can delete your own tweets, by hovering over it and using the option that appears below next to ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, etc. If you make a mistake in a tweet, it might be less confusing to send another tweet with a correction rather than delete one that people may already have seen. If you tweet something you shouldn’t… well, don’t! However, you can’t delete someone else’s tweets, so if they’ve already retweeted you, taken a screenshot, or archived the tweet using some of the options below, it might be too late!

But what if you want to keep tweets, either your own or someone else’s? Why might you want to do this?

  • Perhaps a discussion on Twitter helped you to think something through, and you want to keep the discussion so you can work it up into a blog post, or integrate it into a chapter or article later
  • Maybe there was a good twitter ‘backchannel’ of livetweeting at a conference or other event, which you want to preserve either for yourself or others
  • Perhaps you want to preserve a selection of good advice or observations on a topic, when you ‘crowdsourced’ – asked for suggestions on Twitter and got some great responses. You might want to keep and share them with others.

Tweet URLs

You can save a link to individual tweets. Each tweet has its own URL. To find this, you click on ‘expand’ below the tweet, and you’ll see the date and time stamp. Next to this, it says ‘details’. If you click on ‘details’, it will take you to the URL of that individual tweet, which you can copy and paste. You could save it, bookmark it, embed it in a website, or email it to people.

expandtweet

This form might not be  the best or most convenient way to present tweets for others though.

Your Twitter Archive

If you want a copy of all your tweets, then Twitter can send you an archive of everything you’ve tweeted. Click on the gear icon, and select ‘Settings’. In your ‘Account’ page, scroll down to the bottom where you will see an option “Your Twitter archive: Request your archive”.

Storify

However, one of the nicest ways to keep tweets, especially for others, is a third party application called Storify. Storify is the tool which makes a narrative overview of tweets and other social media by linking to content on the web, including tweets, websites and blogs, Facebook posts, Youtube videos or photos on Flickr. You can search for content, drag and drop it into a linear narrative, add some comments to contextualise it, and publish it on the web or share the URL. You are linking to the original source, rather than taking the content, so it doesn’t breach copyright. It automatically notifies people whose content you have used in this way, so if they object to your use, you can edit out their material (all the material visible to Storify is publically visible anyway).

Storify is a really nice way to create and share a summary of tweets and other online material around an event or discussion, such as a conference, blog or livechat. This Storify has been created by @shirleypickford of her experience of the programme!

Extras: Other tools

There are other more advanced tools which you can use to archive tweets and present them in other visual formats, such as TAGSExplorer. These take a little more know-how to use, but might be things to explore as you get more confident with Twitter, and certainly give you an idea of what’s possible when analysing and visualising Twitter data. Here, as an example, is a visualisation of the tweets from the 2013 ALDinHE conference, and another for LD10DoT! These were kindly created by Andy Mitchell, who knows a lot more about it than I do! If you want to know more about how these visualisations were created, there are instructions online and further instructions on making a visualisation such as the ones linked to above.

If there have been any tweets over the course of the programme which you think will be useful to you, perhaps ones you favourited yesterday, or ones with further resources or advice on using Twitter, try archiving them in one of the ways shown above. 

The Future

And what about future tweets?

You can schedule tweets to send themselves automatically later on. You can’t do this from Twitter itself, but will need to use one of the additional apps mentioned in Days Eight and Nine, so you may wish to leave this topic for later if you want to consolidate the basics first.

Although Twitter is a medium which captures the moment, there are several reasons why you might want to schedule tweets for a later time.

  • If your following contains people in a different time zone who are most likely to be online in the middle of the night, and you want to catch their attention
  • If you have collected a lot of links you want to share, but don’t want to overwhelm your followers with lots of tweets at once (see this example of an awesome workflow, from Pocket to Buffer to Twitter!)
  • If you want to tweet repeated information, updates or reminders, perhaps about an event you’re organising, a blog or article you’ve written or a deadline for a job or funding opportunity, without having to remember to do it (I’ve made use of this frequently throughout this programme!)
  • If you’re away but want to keep some presence on Twitter

You can schedule tweets from both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. To schedule a tweet in Tweetdeck, write a tweet as normal, and then click on the clock icon at the bottom of the window you’re composing a tweet in. This brings up a small calendar, where you can choose the time and date when you want your tweet to be sent.

tweet schedule 2

If you don’t use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, there are other apps which only schedule tweets. You might try, for example, Futuretweets or Twuffer or also Buffer (which works for other social media too). You can sign in with Twitter (or Facebook, or LinkedIn), and it will ask you for permission to access your Twitter feed. Once signed in, it will ask you what you want to share. Type in a tweet, and click ‘schedule’ or ‘buffer’. You will want to go to the ‘Schedule’ tab and set the timezone, and the day and time you want to tweet!

There’s quite a bit there to play with! Well, that’s the last of our Ten Days of Twitter, but don’t worry if you’re still catching up – so are others, and the conversation will be continuing on #ARU10DoT for quite some time, I hope! You might like to keep an eye on the programme hashtag and support academic colleagues as they learn how to use Twitter. I hope you’ve found the programme useful, and thanks for joining in! Keep tweeting!

(If you’ve experimented with Twitter and decided it’s not for you, then I hope we’ve helped you come to a well informed decision on whether to use it or not. If you now want to delete your account, it’s easy to do so. We encourage you to keep your digital footprint tidy!).

Day Nine of #ARU10DoT: Managing information

If you’re choosing who to follow effectively, then your Twitter feed should be full of interesting tweets and links to webpages etc which you might want to follow up on. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, lose track of it all, miss things and mislay things!

Twitter itself has a few features which can help you stay on top of all the information.

Favourites

If you see a tweet which interests you and which you’d like to come back to later, you can mark it as a ‘favourite’ and it will be stored for you to return to. To mark a tweet as a ‘favourite’, hover over the tweet, and a star icon will appear below it, along with ‘retweet’ and some other functions:

favourite

When you want to look at your favourited tweets, you will see them marked in your Twitter stream, but it’s easier to see them all together. If you click on the top tab with the profile icon and ‘Me’, a menu will appear on the left, with ‘favourites’ as well as your tweets, followers and following. Click on ‘Favourites’ to view. When you favourite a tweet, the person who tweeted it is notified, which may help to gain you an extra follower, but it also gives them feedback on what others are finding useful.

Me and other things

If you set up a Tweetdeck account yesterday, you can also add a column for your ‘favourited’ tweets.

Search

You can also search for tweets, by username, hashtag or just by a keyword. The search box is at the top of the screen in the right hand corner. You can also organise the search results by top (most popular) topics, all results, or limit the results just to the people you follow. Once you have searched, a small ‘settings’ cog icon will appear next to the ‘search’ box (not the main cog icon at the top right of the screen!). If this is a search you might repeat regularly, click on this, and you can save the search so you don’t need to keep performing it – useful if you’re following a hastagged discussion. You could also perform an advanced search using this icon- you can narrow down the tweets you’re looking for by word or by the person sending or receiving it, or by location.

Trending

In the left hand column, Twitter will also show you what hashtags are popular at the moment. This may or may not be of much use to you! You can narrow the trends down by location, by clicking on ‘Change’ in this box, but if you are networking at a national or international level, this may not be very helpful.

Extras:

If you’re keen to explore further, you might look at the following tips, or you might return to them later on, when you’ve been using Twitter for a while:

Third party applications

If you’re feeling more adventurous again today, here are a few more third party apps which will help you curate all the links which people are tweeting about.

Tweetdeck

If you explored Tweetdeck yesterday, you may not have realised that not only can you add columns for lists of people, you can also add columns to follow hashtags. Click on ‘Add column’, and then choose ‘Search’. If you perform a search for a hashtag, you can add a new column to your Tweetdeck which will now display all the tweets using that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. This might be useful if you are following a conference hashtag or chat such as #infolit but don’t want to follow all of the people tweeting with this hashtag.

Pocket

Pocket is an application which saves any webpage for you to look at in more detail later, when you have time. It is a bookmarking tool -if you find a webpage via a link in Twitter (or anywhere else), you can save it to Pocket, and then return to it and the other things you’ve saved later on. Pocket is a web browser based service, meaning you can access it from anywhere and any device or computer. To create an account, you’ll simply need an email address, username and password. On your desktop computer, you can download and install it into your browser, so you can simply hit a button in your toolbar to save a webpage (how to install it depends on which browser you prefer to use, but Pocket will take you through the steps – it’s easy!). When you use Twitter in a browser with Pocket installed (and also if you have installed the Pocket app on your smartphone or ipad), then a ‘Pocket’ option appears alongside  the other options of ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, ‘favourite’ etc when you hover over a tweet  containing a link, so you can save it right from the tweet instead of having to open the link and add it to Pocket from there. You can also access Pocket on the web, if you’re on a computer which isn’t yours, or where you can’t install it into the browser.

Flipboard

If you use a smartphone or tablet such as an iphone, ipad or Android device, you could download an app which curates content from your Twitter feed, such as Flipboard. Once you have downloaded the app, you can connect it with your Twitter account (or other social media) and it will draw in the links that people share with you and display them for you. To find out more about Flipboard, and how to set up an account, see instructions in its ‘support’ section. Alternatives to Flipboard are Zite and Pulse.

News.me

If you don’t have a tablet device, you can set up an account with news.me, which will deliver the main stories shared by the people you follow on Twitter in an email. To sign up, you’ll need to add your email address, and then connect it with your Twitter (or Facebook) account by clicking on the request to authorise this. That’s it!

Paper.li

Paper.li is an application which curates content from social media streams which you use (in this case, Twitter, but also Facebook, Google+ etc). It then presents the links it’s found in a easy to read magazine form. You can share this with others (and it will tweet automatically on your behalf, but it is not recommended that you ‘spam’ your followers in this way!) but you can just use it to pick up the links you might have missed on Twitter by adding Twitter as a source.

You can create an account and log in to Paper.li using either Twitter or Facebook. Use Twitter in this instance, of course! After that, follow the instructions given by Paper.li.

So there are a range of ways to stay on top of all the information that’s being shared with you by the people you follow. Choose one that looks useful to you, and experiment with it! Tweet to let us know your thoughts and findings!

Day Eight of #ARU10DoT: Managing People

Over the last 7 days, you may have found that as you continue to use Twitter, you come across more and more interesting people to follow and your following grows exponentially. Keeping track of them all can be a challenge, and sometimes you will want to focus on certain groups of them over others, or check in on some people only sporadically. This is hard to do in the undifferentiated stream of tweets on your Twitter feed, where they are all mixed in together. Fortunately, there are ways to split up your Twitter stream and group the people you follow into separate streams, so you can keep an eye on their tweets as it suits you.

You might want to group the people you follow into any of the types that we looked at in Day Three. Some examples might be

  • Colleagues or services at your institution
  • Colleagues and peers across the country/world in a particular field
  • Professional or funding bodies
  • News accounts
  • Social, personal or fun accounts

Twitter lists

Twitter has a feature which allows you to make lists of people – and you need not follow all of them to add them to a list. These lists can be private, so only you can see them, or they might be public so you can share them with others. I created such a list for the participants of this course on Day Two, so you could find each other on Day Three. You might create such a list for the benefit of others, for example, to bring together the attendees at a workshop or conference, students on a particular programme or module, or the top accounts on a particular topic which you recommend other people should follow. You can share a list by giving people the URL of the list page, or let them view the lists you’ve created on your profile, where they can subscribe to your lists too.

To create a list on Twitter, go to the gear icon at the top right of the page. Select ‘Lists’, and you will see a page which will contain any lists you will make. Click on ‘Create list’, and you will be asked to name your new list and add a brief description. This description will be very helpful if you now choose to make the list public, so others can find and subscribe to it.

You will now be invited to search for people to add to your list. You can also add them later, by clicking on their @handle and going to their profile. Next to the ‘Follow(ing)’ button, you will see the head and shoulders icon. If you click on this, you will see a menu containing the option ‘add or remove from lists’ (this is also where you can send them private Direct Messages, as in Day 4). While we’re on the topic of managing people, you can also block or report people using this menu, for example, if you are followed by a spam account or someone you don’t want following you.

add to lists

To view your lists, or those of other people, you can simply go to ‘lists’ in the left hand column on your ‘Me ‘ tab, and see only the tweets from the people in that list.

Me and other things

 

Extras:

If you’re keen to explore further, you might look at the following tips, or you might return to them later on, when you’ve been using Twitter for a while:

Third Party Apps

The beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity as a platform. However, sometimes you need a bit more functionality. There are some third party applications created by other companies as add-ons to Twitter, to help you out with some of the things about Twitter which you may find a bit overwhelming.  Some of them will need to be integrated with your Twitter account to drawn information from them, and to do this, you will need to grant them access to your account (you can revoke this again from your Twitter account settings).

You might want a more convenient way to view different aspects of your Twitter stream, or even add in updates from other platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn together with Twitter, so your whole social media stream is visible in one place. To do this, you can use one of the third party applications that were developed to make Twitter easier to use.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, and is a good way to manage more than one account, if you have more than one  (for personal and professional use, or perhaps an individual one and an official one on  behalf of an institution). I am using Tweetdeck to tweet from both @ARU10DoT and @scholastic_rat at the moment without having to log out of one account and into another  – and it’s easy to get confused and tweet from the wrong one! However, you can also use Tweetdeck to split your Twitter stream into columns divided by people. It will import any lists you have made on Twitter too.

You will need to create an account, with an email address and password. Once you have set up an account, you can connect your Twitter account(s). You can use it as a web-based application to access from anywhere, or you can download the Tweetdeck app to your computer (there is no app for smartphones or tablets). Tweetdeck is organised into a number of columns, and gives you a number of columns automatically, such as your timeline, your own tweets or your @mentions (tweets that mention you), and you can add new columns for the lists you create. You can also create new lists in Tweetdeck. Click on ‘add column’, and choose ‘lists’ (or any other column you want to add!).

You can do everything we’ve covered in Twitter on Tweetdeck too, including shortening URLs. Tweetdeck also makes some other things in Twitter a little bit easier. For example, when you retweet, it will ask you if you simply want to retweet or if you want to edit the tweet, as we discussed in Day 6. On Twitter, you need to copy and paste the tweet if you want to edit it, which can be fiddly; this does it automatically.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is similar application to Tweetdeck, but it allows you also to import other social media accounts such as Facebook, and it is also available as an app for mobile devices. You can sign up using Facebook, or if you prefer to keep Facebook separate from your professional social media use, you can sign up with an email address, name and password. It will then ask you to add your chosen social network accounts. You can then add streams of content similarly as in Tweetdeck, and tabs for the different social networks. Hootsuite has a quick start guide to help you set up your account.

The other bonus of tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite is that you don’t see the advertising ‘promoted tweets’ from companies you don’t follow!

Think about the kinds of update you’ve seen on Twitter so far from the people you follow. Who do you most want to see tweets from? You might want to try making a list of your colleagues on Twitter, or perhaps one for the professional and funding bodies you follow.

Day Seven of #ARU10DoT: Hashtags

Hashtags (using the # symbol) is where Twitter really gets interesting. Today is therefore a little more complex than usual, apologies! The hashtag is, like the @message, a feature that was developed by users of Twitter, and was taken up and integrated by the platform as it was so useful.

Basically, the hashtag is a form of metadata. A # in front of a word signals that it is a keyword of some sort, tagging that tweet with a hash symbol (hence hash-tag). This means that you can easily search for all other tweets containing a word similarly marked with a hashtag symbol. In fact, you don’t even need to search – if you click on any hashtagged term, it will search for you.

The hashtag for 10 Days of Twitter is, as you’ve guessed, #ARU10DoT.  You can therefore search for any tweets containing that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. It’s how I found out who was participating in the 10 days of Twitter, right on the very first day when you sent a tweet with the hashtag in, and any tweets you’ve sent since using it.

(if you’re a Mac user and wondering where your hashtag key is, there isn’t one! You’ll need to press the alt key and the 3 key together to make the # symbol!)

A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by a #symbol, with no spaces in between. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #ARU10DoT , and it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people it’s relevant to. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word!) such as #ILoveTwitter (it helps to capitalise the individual words to make it easier to read). What it should be above anything else, though, is short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters!

How do you know what hashtags to use, or to search for? You make them up! If you’re creating a new hashtag, it’s good to do a search first and check if it’s been used before, and if so, whether you are going to use it in a similar way for similar people. If so, you’re joining a larger, pre-existing conversation! If not, then you might be confusing things, with a hashtag meaning different things to different people. If you’re talking to a limited, known group, as I am here, or as you might at a conference, then the hashtag might be meaningless to outsiders (which is probably fine – people for whom it’s relevant will probably be aware of it already or easily figure it out). If you’re creating a hashtag hoping to start a larger discussion which is open to all, then it needs to be self-explanatory and something that someone might very likely search for or guess.

You’ll see people using hashtags you might be interested in when scannning your twitter feed, and if you click on the hashtag, you will find all the other tweets using that hashtag recently. Or you can search for hashtags, using the search box at the top. If you click on the ‘#Discover’ tab at the top of the screen, you’ll see the top hashtags that the people you follow are currently using. When you hear the phrase ‘trending on Twitter’, it means that there are a lot of people talking about the same thing, using a common hashtag.

Hashtags really come in useful in academia in three ways.

An open, extended discussion

Someone might start a discussion about a topic on Twitter which is open to all to contribute, and it is drawn together using a common hashtag. #Twittergate (see Livetweeting below) is an example. You can also use it to gather responses. #OverlyHonestMethods is an amusing way for scientists to share the real thinking behind their methods, and give the public an insight into how science is done. #TweetMyThesis is one which also happened recently, sparked by this THE article, which you might like to contribute to – it’s a challenge!  You might also be interested in other hashtags for education.

Livechat

A live chat is a conversation on Twitter which takes place in real time. A topic, time and a hashtag is agreed by the leaders, and they are joined on the day by people who want to talk about that topic with each other. Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts and share experiences.

A live chat is a conversation on Twitter which takes place in real time. A topic, time and a hashtag is agreed by the leaders, and they are joined on the day by people who want to talk about that topic with each other. Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts and share experiences. Popular ones which you might be interested in are #PhDchat and #ECRchat, which deal with the experience of being a PhD student or postdoc, and might offer some moral peer support! The Guardian Higher Education Network also hosts livechats on a Friday, on #HElivechat. Search for the hashtags to see what was discussed last time, and join in the next one!

Livetweeting

To livetweet an event means to tweet about it while you’re actually participating in it. Conferences are often livetweeted. (if you follow me at @scholastic_rat, you will have noticed a lot of tweets recently with the #sedaconf hashtag, as I was livetweeting from the Staff and Education Developers Conference). This may be done in an official capacity, with organisers inviting participants to livetweet the papers, giving attendees a pre-agreed ‘official’ hashtag to use, running up to the event, during and after, to find out who’s going to be there, what the papers were about, and any follow-up questions. A live stream of the tweets at the conference may even be displayed alongside the speaker on a ‘tweetwall’, using a tool such as Hootfeed.

  • If you’re at a conference, livetweeting it is a great way to connect to other attendees. It’s easier to approach someone when you’ve been ‘talking’ to each other already on Twitter, and if you’re at the conference on your own, you can find people to hang out with.
  • By livetweeting the presentations, you alert people who aren’t present that you are there, so they can find out more from you later if they couldn’t attend the conference, or were in a parallel session.
  • You can let your followers know who was presenting, and a brief insight into what the papers were about – if it sounds interesting, then your followers can look up publications by those people.
  • You can ask questions or for clarification from the presenter, from other conference attendees, or in fact anyone on Twitter, during the sessions. You can also enhance what the presenter is saying, with links to more information and comments on their presentation. Livetweeting is very visible, so do keep comments professional.
  • It’s a way to continue conversations, perhaps with the presenter themselves, after the conference has finished.
  • People following the livetweeting from elsewhere can still participate in the conference, addressing questions for the speakers via tweets. This is especially effective if the conference is also being livestreamed on the web, with live video and sound.
  • Presenters themselves might find the tweets useful feedback, to see how people have responded to their paper.

However, livetweeting events must be approached sensitively and professionally. Some presenters may feel that the conference space is a closed group, and feel uncomfortable with their paper being conveyed outside the room to those who aren’t there. They may worry that their ideas and words are being misrepresented in 140 characters. It can also be quite distracting to see people typing away and surfing the internet when you’re presenting, even if it’s relevant! There was a great deal of lively discussion about livetweeting a few months ago on Twitter, under the hashtag #Twittergate, and with blog posts from TressieMCKathleen Fitzpatrick,  Roopika RisamSteve Kolowich and an article in the Guardian, which offers useful tips.

If you’re livetweeting, then do:

  • check with the organisers and presenters that it’s ok to livetweet
  • alert your followers that you will be livetweeting so they’re not confused!
  • make sure you tweet professionally – be polite and respectful! It will be very visible if you are being unpleasant about a colleague or peer.
  • ensure that you reflect the speaker’s words as accurately as you can, and make it very clear, as with livetweets, that you are conveying someone else’s words. You might, for example, tweet:

Good point! @scholastic_rat says “the ethics of livetweeting are contentious- check permission first!” #ARU10DoT

So- look out for hashtags which mark a conversation you’d like to join in, perhaps a livechat, and experiment with livetweeting an event, no matter how small (could even be a TV or radio programme!) If you find any good hashtag conversations, let us know!