Today, I will have the students gather around me with my laptop and I will show them things about Twitter. I will teach the students about how Twitter is a good source of real time news as well as a way to follow the goings on of their favorite personalities, websites, and friends. I will show them how to create an account on the site, how to follow someone on Twitter, how to search for topics using hashtags, and teach them how to write effective tweets. Since Twitter is by its nature more public than Facebook I will teach the students what the need to know about privacy on the site. The message is that Twitter should be thought of as a public forum. The students should put their best face forward and try to share things that are constructive and according to their interests. For example, if a student loves music or art he or she can share about art and music. Eventually, we will work our way through other social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, and blogging to show students how they can effectively use social media to their advantage.
Different social media sites have different uses, strengths, and advantages. Twitter could be called a ‘real time social networking’ site, a place for sharing information as it happens, and for connecting with others in real time, often resulting in lasting friendships and contacts.
Learning how to use this fun, free, and useful tool can be a bit intimidating for the beginner, but don’t be put off – with a little effort and a lot of intuitive “feeling your way through”, you’ll soon be able to use Twitter well–and you might even become ‘digitally’ famous!
Learn the Twitter lingo and use it appropriately.
- Tweet – a Twitter single update of 140 characters or less, which can include @Mentions to other users, hashtags, external links, or simply regular text.
- Retweet or “RT” – taking a tweet from one user and posting it yourself, automatically crediting the source, so that all of your followers can see the tweet. The original retweeting style would take a tweet and re-post it via your own account in the following format: ‘RT @(username of person who originally tweeted the tweet you’re retweeting): (contents of tweet)’. The current system does away with this format, and instead directly re-posts the tweet, crediting the origin underneath. For example, ‘retweeted from @username’.
- TweetUps – Using Twitter to meet with other Twitter folks.
- Trending Topics (TTs) – “Trending Topics” lists a range of subjects which many users across Twitter are talking about simultaneously. When Twitter first got started, “Trending Topics” were those which were most popular during the span of the entire previous week. But new, more advanced algorithms have now made it easier to detect recent trends, and cite the very latest most-talked-about subjects. These days, the “Trending Topics” list contains things that thousands of people across the whole of Twitter are discussing at any one time. When you click on a Trending Topic in the list, it will bring up a range of tweets, mentioning each matter of interest, and for each Trending Topic there will be up to three ‘Top Tweets’ highlighted–Those are the tweets in each topic which have been retweeted more than 150 times. You can view a list of trends in your area in the right-hand column of the homepage.
- Lists – Users can organize the people they follow into lists of businesses or personalities which are related in some way. For example, a user could list all of the NPOs and charities they follow into a single list, for easy reference.
- Promoted Tweets – A single trending topic which a company or organization can pay to ‘trend’, as to gain attention and traffic from Twitter users worldwide.
- If you want to let your followers know what you are doing, type it into the ‘What’s happening?’ text box and then click on the ‘Tweet’ button. Note that tweets are limited to 140 characters or less; otherwise, the “Tweet” button will go into a minus.
- As you type, a countdown is offered to help you keep track of the character count of your tweets. The allowed characters are in gray, then the last 10 go red, and then a red minus symbol appears when you are past the zero (0) indicator.
Use hashtags. Prefacing a word with a ‘#’ will create a hashtag. A hashtag makes a certain word easily searchable. For more information on hashtags see the wikiHow article on How to use Hashtags with Twitter.
- Some Trending topics will include hashtags, thus making it easier for users to tap into a Twitter-wide conversation regarding a single matter of interest.
- A prime example of the usage of hashtags can be seen with Major League Baseball, which uses team-name hashtags (#Mets, for example) to pull together lists of in-game tweets, which they display on their website.
Check the replies from your followers that are directed at you. Click ‘@Mentions’ to see if there are any replies to any of your ‘tweets’. When tweeting, using ‘@’ followed by a username (with no spaces) in your tweet will send a mention to the user you choose. For example, ‘@username’ will send a mention to ‘username’, and the entire tweet will show up in his ‘@mentions’ section.
Look for people from organizations that you are in or for those that share a common interest. There are many business, companies, celebrities, and non-profit organizations on Twitter, ranging from Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) to Greenpeace (@greenpeace).
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