I just received the following tweet:
“I’m an NQT. Heard about Twitter being great for CPD but have absolutely no idea how to use it – can you help?”
I’m still quite new to Twitter but I hope that what I’ve learnt in my first few weeks will prove helpful to those of you even newer on the scene than me. And maybe it will encourage a few of you to try Twitter out if you’ve not yet taken the plunge.
Choose your name wisely
Short and sweet: Tweets are only 140 characters long. When someone is talking to you, their tweet will include your name so the longer your name, the fewer characters left for the rest of the tweet. The moral? Go for something short if possible.
Make it easy: Make your name both easy to read and to type. Smartphone users will find names including numbers or special characters harder to type and they can also make it difficult for people to remember your name off the top of their head. Ideally you’ll have a name people can easily remember so they don’t to go searching through their followers every time they want to talk to you.
Have a uniform online presence: If you’ve already got a good social network elsewhere, using the same or a similar name on Twitter will help your other followers recognise and find you and increase the speed with which you’ll get going on Twitter.
Sell yourself in your Profile
A picture is worth a thousand words: Twitter is a friendly community and having a picture in your profile will help people to know who they’re talking to. It also increases the likelihood of people choosing to follow you as it stops your account looking like one of the thousands that have been signed up for then allowed to go dormant.
Take five minutes to complete your profile: Completing your profile with some information about yourself and maybe the type of thing you’ll be tweeting about, will massively increase your chances of gaining relevant followers. At the end of the day, you want people like you to follow you so you can engage in relevant conversations. If you’re a KS2 teacher – say so – you’ll soon find that other KS2 teachers are following you. Consider your profile your opportunity to ‘pitch’ yourself to potential followers. Sell yourself.
Link to your Blog: If you have a blog, make sure you list it in your profile details. Twitter and blogging are very good friends and many of your followers will be keen to read your blog.
Build your network
Talk to yourself!
When you first join Twitter, you don’t have any followers and it basically feels like you’re talking to yourself. Do it. It seems a little odd but no one is going to want to follow you if you’re not tweeting at all. So talk to yourself for a little while, get comfortable with how tweeting works and gradually you will gain followers and before you know it, thousands (okay, at least tens!) of avid listeners will be tuning into your every tweet.
Follow people your followers follow…
Once you have found even one or two likeminded individuals to follow, take a look at who they follow and follow anyone who seems of interest. Then, you can take a look at the list of people those people follow and so on and so forth. Once you start doing this, you’ll suddenly realise the value of a good profile blurb (and understand why I was harping on about it earlier!)
Check out lists
Lots of Tweeters make lists of people on Twitter. These tend to be categorised. I would recommend all UK teachers to check out @SchoolDuggery’s lists which are a goldmine of great people to follow. I write a weekly blog post listing 20 Top Education Tweeters which you might find interesting and there are several list services available such as Listorious where you can search for tweeters by category.
Ask for help
Ask more established tweeters to help you find followers. Twitter is a friendly community and everyone will be keen to help.
Watch other people’s conversations, it’s a great way to find yet more people to interact with and follow.
Use and search for relevant hashtags
Label your tweets: Hashtags are used to label things in Twitter. It helps you find tweets that are relevant e.g. all tweets containing ‘#edtech’ will relate to technology in education and by the same token it helps you to label your tweets so that people beyond your followers can read them if they are interested in that topic.
Twitter Chats: Hashtags are also used for Twitter Chats which are a great form of CPD. If you’re a teacher in the UK then you’ll find UK Ed Chat a fantastic CPD opportunity. There are many other educational chats too.. I will try and assemble a list in a later blog post.
So what’s so great about Twitter?
A great place to find and share links: One of the major uses of Twitter is for sharing information. A tweet is only 140 characters long but within a lot of tweets there is a link to an external site or blog post or similar. Twitter is a fantastic place to find resources as everyone is sharing all the time. If you want to share links, you can shorten them using a service such as bit.ly so they don’t make your tweet too long.
You can get feedback almost instantly: Twitter is a great place to brainstorm. Once you’ve built up your network with relevant followers, you’ll have a group of people you can bounce ideas around with. Not sure how to teach long division to year six without sending them to sleep? One of your followers is bound to have an idea or know of great website. Ask them.
Twitter makes the world small: You can get input from all over the world in a matter of minutes using Twitter. You can learn from best practice in classrooms all over the world – and share your own ideas too. Educators on Twitter are an international community who are keen to innovate and support one another in the search for the best ways to teach the next generation. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.
You can use it with your students too!
Good luck and happy tweeting. If you found this blog post useful, please tweet it!
Do you have any advice to share for teachers new to Twitter?
What would you like to know more about? Let me know and I’ll write a further post…