I’ve posted before about how I’ve become a huge fan of Twitter. I’ve demonstrated it on my Web 2.0 courses and I get the impression that a lot of people are either unimpressed and can’t see the point, or are overwhelmed at the idea of this huge stream of information. And I’d agree that for the uninitiated, looking at someone elses Twitter stream go flooding past can be a little like trying to decipher The Matrix.
I’ve found Twitter invaluable as a personal learning network. But there is a critical mass to it. If you only follow a few people it can seem quite dull. For it to be useful, you need to start following a lot of people. And hopefully entice those people to follow you.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of Twitter.
1. Follow a few key people. Lurk for a while and see who they talk to. Click on the names of the people they talk to and read their bios. If they seem like interesting people, follow them too. (Edit – yes this does sound a little like stalking! But it’s an effective way of finding new people to follow…)
2. Use some of the search tools to find people. Try Twitter search to see who’s talking about things you are interested in. Or Monitter. If you see people using hashtags, eg #uksnow or #teachmeet they are making it easier to follow one particular topic. Search for that phrase on twitter search to see other people talking about the same topic. You can also try some of the Twitter directories such as WeFollow – don’t forget to add yourself to the directory too!
3. Make sure you put something in your bio. Mention that you are a teacher or have an interest in web2.0. If you follow people they will look at your profile and make a decision whether to follow you or not. If you don’t have many updates you may look a little like a spammer 🙂 Letting them know your interests will let them make a judgement about following you back.
4. Use a Twitter client such as Tweetdeck. It runs in the background and automatically updates itself. Makes it easy to see straight away any @messages or direct messages.
5. Twitter on your mobile with dabr.co.uk. It’s a much slicker site to use than the original twitter one when accessing it via a mobile phone.
6. Don’t feel you have to keep up with everything that is being said. Dip in and out. You will never absorb every message that’s being posted by the people you are following. Check it from time to time and scan through the posts for anything interesting.
7. Message people directly by putting an @ sign in front of their username – eg @dannynic will make sure the message is seen by me. Clicking on the @yourusername link in Twitter will show every message sent directly to you, whatever time of day it was sent.
8. Don’t be afraid to lurk for a while – follow people and listen to the conversation. Lurking is not a bad thing. Join in when you feel ready.
9. Have fun! Twitter is all about conversation and networking. Talk to people and share.
10. Learn to love the Fail Whale. It’s just a sign that Twitter is too busy and can’t yet cope with lots of people. Go do something else and try again later.
Here are some other posts that you might find useful