Twitter 201: Advanced Tips for Educators
Educators have embraced Twitter over the past several years as a social media platform for engaging with the latest information and debates and with colleagues across the country and around the world. Now, educators are ready to take their Twitter engagement to the next level.
Using Twitter to engage about education offers the promise of keeping up with the latest news and trends and of interacting with others who care about education. While Facebook is more personal and LinkedIn is purely professional, many people – myself included – find that Twitter is a nice hybrid of both.
If you don’t have a Twitter handle yet, there are some terrific resources available for getting started. A couple resources focus on the fundamentals of Twitter with educators in mind and guidance on which Twitter handles and chats educators should follow. Educators at Mobile County Public Schools put together a visually-pleasing and exhaustive guide on getting started, “Twitter for Educators: A Beginner’s Guide.”
Yet, there aren’t as many resources available for educators that have been using Twitter for awhile and are ready to take the next steps to get even more out of the time they spend engaging on Twitter. I have analyzed the strategies of journalists that successfully cultivate large numbers of followers on Twitter. Below are four strategies for educators who are ready for the advanced class, “Twitter 201”:
1. Use lists to organize your Twitter stream
The list feature in Twitter enables users to create streams of groups of handles. Lists can be private or public. You can share your lists with others, or keep it as your own personal organizing tool. With lists, you can see new Tweets organized thematically and make sure you don’t miss new Tweets from a certain subset of handles you follow.
If you are a school principal, you might be interested in seeing the handles you follow on Twitter divided into streams of parents and parent bloggers, teachers and school administrators on Twitter, and education and child psychology researchers.
Create lists by topic or theme
I organize my own lists in high-level thematic groups. “PanList” is the fun name I gave to my list of people and organizations I follow that directly relate to my work here at Panorama. I keep my lists private, because I think of them as my own organizational tools. I find that my lists help me see Tweets from handles I consider “high priority.” Create some lists, and see what works best for you!
2. Use a social media management tool to find and follow education conversations
TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and other social media management tools allow you to follow lists of handles as well as keywords. At Panorama, we want to be sure to see posts about “student voice,” “social-emotional learning,” and “student feedback.” By seeing Tweets on these topics, we find news articles we are interested in reading and identify new individuals and organizations to follow on Twitter. This is a great way to connect with and participate in education conversations happening beyond your personal networks.
Create keyword lists to follow topics with social media management tools
3. Share the love
When I started using Twitter, I thought Retweeting was sort of a lazy way of using Twitter and interacting with others on the platform. I’ve found that’s not true! People who are active on Twitter and have amassed a large number of followers Retweet. There are a couple ways to Retweet. You can use the Retweet button, or you can copy and paste the content, and add a short personalization or message at the beginning. I took that approach to congratulate my colleague Jack when his article was published in EdSurge.
Twitter is a more rewarding medium when it is a conversation, rather than one-way broadcast. Share other people’s content and engage with authors make Twitter a more engaging conversation.
4. Develop your voice
As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is a hybrid social media platform: part personal, part professional. Advanced Twitter users bring themselves and their interests into their Tweets and engagement with other Twitter users.
Michele Norris (@michele_norris) is a fantastic example of someone who blends the personal and professional to create a rich experience on Twitter for her followers. Norris has used Twitter to engage thousands of people around “The Race Card Project.” She has used Tweets to solicit submissions of 6-word experiences and reflections on race in America, and she shares cards from the project on Twitter. As a journalist, she shares a lot of news, and she also Tweets about her family’s love for Michigan sports teams.
Keep your engagement on Twitter professional, but also keep it fun and personal. Strike the right balance for you by developing your own personal voice on Twitter.
One final tip: follow us @panoramaed to engage in conversations about the latest on using feedback and data to make school better!