Is this you?
You’ve joined Twitter. You’re following a few people. Your profile picture may or may not be an egg. You’ve even tweeted a couple of times. But you’re wondering what all the fuss is about.
Or maybe this is you?
You’ve joined Twitter and you’ve found tons of interesting people and ideas. But there is just way too much information. You can’t keep track of the stuff you want to know more about.
If one of these scenarios sounds familiar, you’ve probably begun the process of building your PLN (see this post I wrote back in September), but you want guidance about how to make it extraordinary, transformative and–most importantly–personalized for you and your needs.
Here’s how to master Twitter in five steps:
@cybraryman1 maintains an up-to-date and second-to-none list of educators who use Twitter (he calls them his “PLN Stars”). This list is organized by subject area and includes hashtags (topics indicated with a #, such as #edchat) that you can follow as well. You can then organize the people you follow into lists, which can make finding information easier.
A great way to expand your PLN is to chat in real-time with other Twitter users using a specific hashtag. I must give thanks again to @cybraryman1 for his exhaustive schedule of weekly chats. In a Twitter chat, one or more moderators generally pose questions to people participating in the chat, who then discuss the questions. The best way to keep track of a Twitter chat is to use a site like TweetChat, which automatically includes the chat’s hashtag. (Otherwise, it’s easy to forget to add it, and it’s unlikely that anyone will see your comments!)
Using a tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite can be life-changing. There, you sign in with your Twitter login information (no additional passwords to remember) and create streams that follow specific hashtags, mentions, retweets, etc. My interests are in language education and 21st century learning, so I have different streams set up on my HootSuite account for #langchat, my list of 21st century educators, and Spanish-language Twitter accounts. At a glance, I can see what’s the latest in all of my interest areas.
If This, Then That is the closest we will ever come to casting spells. You sign in to your various accounts (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Instapaper, Evernote, Google, etc.) and find “recipes” that connect those accounts. For example, I use an IFTTT recipe that automatically sends any tweet I “favorite” to my Instapaper account. This way, I can scroll through my Twitter feed, favorite the tweets and articles that look interesting, and then read them later via Instapaper. This works especially well for me on my 75-minute commute via train and subway, where I have cellular service for only half the ride.
Using your hashtags of interest, you can create a personalized “newspaper” that you can publish daily or weekly with Paper.li. This website combs Twitter for the hashtags or lists you define, and compiles those resources into a publication that you can read online without ever checking your Twitter feed. Paper.li also tweets out a link to that publication from your account and mentions some of the Twitter users who originally posted the content. This is a great way to acknowledge others’ contributions while maybe earning some new followers.
One last tip: You don’t have to complete all five steps, or even do them in order, to make the most of your Twitter experience. As with all things PLN, find what works for you–and then share it!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Kooroshication.