Sixth Day of #ARU10DoT: Hashtags and Trending

Hashtags (using the hash 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 early users of Twitter, and was taken up and integrated into 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 by other people containing that 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.

Hashtag FeedThe 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 10 Days of Twitter on Day 2 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, you 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 or other characters. 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 can help 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 it has been used before, 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 anyone, then it needs to be self-explanatory and something that someone might very likely search for or guess, like #highered.

You’ll see people using hashtags you might be interested in when scanning your Twitter feed, and if you click on the hashtag, you will find all the other tweets using that hashtag recently.

Hastags in Academia

Hashtags really come in useful in academia in three ways.

1) 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. 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 challenges you to sum up your research in 140 characters!

You might also be interested in other hashtags for education.

2) 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. Live chats 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 live chats on a Friday, on #HElivechat. Search for the hashtags to see what was discussed last time, and join in the next one!

3) Live-tweeting

To live-tweet an event means to tweet about it while you’re actually participating in it. Conferences or seminar presentations are often live-tweeted. This may be done in an official capacity, with organisers inviting participants to live-tweet 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 good example of this is this Storify of the 2014 SEDA Conference.

A live stream of the tweets at the conference may even be displayed alongside the speaker on a ‘tweet wall’, using a tool such as Hootfeed, such as this feed from the 2015 Learning and Teaching Conference, using the hashtag #LTAConf:

TWEETWALL

  • If you’re at a conference, live-tweeting 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 live-tweeting 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. Live-tweeting 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 live-tweeting 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, live-tweeting 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! A good start to thinking about live-tweeting is this article from Slido.

If you are live-tweeting, then do:

  • check with the organisers and presenters that it’s ok to live-tweet (although, these days, its mostly taken for granted if not actively encouraged)
  • alert your followers that you will be live-tweeting 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 live-tweets, that you are conveying someone else’s words

Trending

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. Trending hashtags are also displayed on the left-hand side of your profile page:

TrendingNote that not all the trending topics have a hashtag.

The term ‘trending’ has become so widespread in society that it is now frequently used as a synonym for popular. If you use Facebook, you have probably noticed that they introduced a Trending element some time ago:

Trending on FB


Digital Badge

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

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is to post a hashtag of a conversation you’d like to join in, in the comments section.

You could even experiment with live-tweeting an event, no matter how small (could even be a TV or radio programme!)

If you find any good hashtag conversations, let us know! And remember to tag them with #ARU10DoT!

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Week One of #ARU10DoT

We’re halfway through the Ten Days of Twitter – I’m really glad so many of you have joined us, and hope you’re finding it useful and fun! Thanks for all your participation. I’ve made several new acquaintances on Twitter, and will be following you for all your updates and information!

I’ve been curating the week’s tweets as we went along, and created this overview of the first five days of Twitter. We’ll find out how to do this later next week. For now, click on the link to view the conversations and discussions, and see quite how far we’ve come together!

View the story ‘#ARU10DoT Ten Days of Twitter at ARU (March 2017)’ on Storify

If you’re following along but haven’t tweeted yet, or if you’ve only just found the programme, it’s not too late to join us! Send me a message as in Day 2 with my name @markwarnes2 and the hashtag #ARU10DoT, and I’ll add you to the list of participants on Twitter that we can all view (see Day 3), to see who else is participating.

Don’t forget to complete all the daily tasks if you want to qualify for a Digital Badge!

Have a great weekend, keep tweeting, and I’ll see you on Monday for Day 6!


Errata

It would appear that it remains necessary to put a ‘.’ before the @name in tweets that begin with a username, because:

When a Tweet starts with a @username, the only users who will see it in their timeline (other than the sender and the recipient) are those who follow both the sender and the recipient. (Twitter https://support.twitter.com/articles/14023#)

My apologies for not checking this sooner and making it clear yesterday!

Fifth day of #ARU10DoT: Retweeting

You’ve send a few tweets over the last few days – hopefully you’ve found plenty in your everyday routine as an academic which would be of interest to others, whether they are your Anglia Ruskin colleagues, peers in your field, other professions within or beyond Higher Education, such as policy, journalism, or publishing, or to the general public.

But it really would be hard work to generate all the material yourself to feed your followers with regular, interesting tweets! Fortunately, you don’t have to – you can retweet the tweets of others. It’s sort of like forwarding an email, but to everyone who’s following you. They see the content of the original tweet, who it came from originally, and perhaps also a contextualising comment from you. By doing this, you’re performing a valuable service:

  • to your followers, by sifting the stream of information available to them, filtering out what’s potentially interesting to them, and also by making them aware of potential new contacts they can add to their network. They may already follow the person you’ve retweeted, in which case you’re bringing their attention to something they may have missed the first time. They may not yet follow the original tweeter, in which case, you’ve made available to them information they may not have had access to, and given them a new contact to follow.
  • to the people you follow, by amplifying their message and spreading it outside their network (and also possibly putting them in touch with new contacts)
  • to you, by displaying to others that you’re well connected to interesting and important people, and that you are a discerning judge of what information is interesting and significant!

I’ve been retweeting items I hoped might be of interest to you and my other followers on @markwarnes2 over the last week. To retweet a message, you simply click on the ‘retweet’ button which appears below each tweet when you hover over it.

RetweetThe message will then appear in your followers’ Twitter streams as if it appeared from the original sender, even though they may not follow them (although they might!). The tweet that they see will be marked with ‘username retweeted’ in small lettering, so if they look, they can tell that it was you who retweeted it.

Retweet 2However, you can edit the tweet before retweeting it:

Retweet with editAdding a comment alters the appearance of the retweet on your news feed, and Twitter embeds the original tweet below your comment:

Edit and retweetAlso, apps like Hootsuite or TweetDeck (we’ll look at these later on!) give you the option to quote and edit, or just retweet. This makes the tweet come from your account, rather than the original sender, making it clear that it’s you who has chosen to pass this information on.

Remember that to use Twitter effectively to promote your own work, you need to update frequently with interesting content to gain a following, and you also need to reciprocate and promote the work of others. No one wants to read or retweet a Twitter feed which is just broadcasting announcements about itself!

So – have a look at your twitter stream and see if you can find tweets you think your followers might be interested in – funding opportunities, calls for papers, an item of news, a new blog post, or publication someone’s tweeted about, a comment you agree with… and start retweeting!


Digital Badge

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

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is to edit three tweets to add #ARU10DoT and retweet them.

Fourth day of #ARU10DoT: Sending @messages

You’ve sent some tweets, followed people and hopefully gained some followers of your own. Some people prefer to listen more than they tweet, which is fine – the only thing to consider is, the more you say about your interests and interact with others, the more people will know what kind of information might be useful to you, and direct relevant things your way. It’s a way of fine-tuning your Twitter feed as well as providing useful information to others.

Sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone – it will be visible to other followers, but you want to catch a particular person’s attention with it. This might be because:

  • you are replying to or responding to one of their tweets
  • you are asking them a question
  • because you think they might be particularly interested in the information passed on in your tweet and want to make sure it catches their eye
  • you mention them in a tweet and want them to know, for example, if you retweet one of their tweets, or are talking about their work

It may also be that you don’t follow that person, or they don’t follow you, but you still want to catch their attention with one particular tweet: they will still see it if you include their @username

For example:

To call someone’s attention to a tweet with an @ mention, you use their username or ‘handle’ preceded by a @ sign. For example, to let me know you’ve mentioned me, you would include ‘@markwarnes2’ in the tweet. If you click the ‘reply’ option which appears in grey in each tweet, Twitter will automatically insert the person’s @name into your tweet (we’ll look at the other options that appear in each tweet later!)

This is another reason to keep your Twitter name as short as you can – it uses up some of the 140 characters! This is a feature that originated with the users of Twitter, which was then subsequently designed into the platform. It’s what has turned Twitter from a broadcast medium of updates into a conversation, and that’s Twitter’s real strength.

Note – as the @ sign is reserved for marking people’s handles, you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at’, for example, ‘let’s meet @6pm @cafe’ – it will treat these as an @message, and it’s likely that someone, somewhere, will have chosen @6pm or @cafe as a handle!

Why might you want a wider audience to see conversations between you and another user?

What’s in it for them?

  • It’s polite to acknowledge them if you’re retweeting something they’ve said, or to let them know if you’re commenting on their work
  • You are drawing attention to them and their work to people who don’t already follow them – they get publicity and new followers

What’s in it for you?

  • You gain a reputation as a polite, helpful, knowledgeable and well-connected professional
  • You may also gain new followers or make new connections

What’s in it for your followers?

  • They get to know about someone’s work which they may have been unaware of, and a new person to follow
  • They are offered a chance to contribute to the discussion too, and thereby gain new contacts and audiences
  • If replying to someone who’s passed on useful information to you specifically, it’s helpful to copy in their reply to your tweet response, in case your followers are also interested in the information.

To see @messages directed at you, click on the tab marked Notifications with the bell icon, at the top of the screen.

NotificationsThey will also appear in your Twitter stream, but you may miss them there! Depending on your settings, you can also receive an email when someone @messages you. To set your account to email you when someone mentions you, click on Settings (accessed via your Profile Picture at the top) and then ‘Email Notifications’ in the left hand menu. You may wish to edit the Email Notifications anyway as the default settings may include things you don’t want or need.

Remember that Twitter is a very public medium, and your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile.

Direct Messages

If you really want to send a message to just one person, but don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, Twitter allows you to send them a DM or Direct Message, but only if that person follows you. Direct Messages on Twitter operate in the same way as other direct messaging systems, such as Facebook Messenger, for instance.

If you want to practice sending a Direct Message, feel free to contact me! If I’ve accidentally omitted to follow you, let me know!

So – send some @messages to people you follow – ask them a question, draw their attention to something, comment on something they’ve tweeted! Reply to anyone who messages you, to be polite, if they appear genuine and professional.


Digital Badge

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

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is to send me an @message to tell me how it’s going @markwarnes2

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 jobs.ac.uk 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!

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 press ‘Enter’ or click the ‘Tweet’ button. You can also use the feather quill pen icon in the top right of the screen to compose your tweet.

What's happening?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.

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 – 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!


Digital Badge

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

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is to tweet the following:  Joining in #ARU10DoT with @ARU10DoT and @markwarnes2

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:

Edit ProfileIn 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).

SettingsYou 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 blog post 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.


Digital Badge

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

Activity: Today’s Digital Badge activity is to tell me your Twitter handle using the ‘Leave a reply’ comment box on this blog post.

That’s enough for Day One!