Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tweet, Tweet

Look, let me just be real with you: if you're not Twitter, you need to be.

Twitter is classified as a social networking site, but it is so much more than that. It is a micro-blogging site {a website where you post very short snippets of information}. It is a professional development tool. Is is a way to connect with like-minded individuals from around the world. Really:
If you're not on Twitter, you're missing out! 

I think so highly of it that I decided to write a series of blog posts about what it is and how we can use it as educators. I'll also be teaching a workshop over social media on August 20, and part of that time will be spent focusing on Twitter.

What is Twitter?
Twitter is comprised of users who send out short status updates (called "tweets") that are 140 characters or less in length. Tweets can also include links to pictures or videos (these links  are usually shortened to avoid hitting the 140-character limit).

Users sign up and can immediately start posting statuses. They find users they know or that represent popular companies, bands, etc. and "follow." Like Facebook, once you "follow" someone, you will see their status updates in your "news feed" immediately upon logging into your account. Unlike Facebook, friendships on Twitter can be one-sided. That is, you are free to follow someone and they are free, in turn, to not follow you.

You can log in to your Twitter account on a computer or through the free app.

You can interact with others, express your opinions, and learn a lot on Twitter. New users often hesitate to join in any conversations and only read tweets in the background. While that's totally okay, Twitter is so much more fun when you participate!

Users can protect their tweets or leave them unprotected. "Protected" means that potential followers must submit a "follow request," and you must approve or deny each and every one of them. Only users you approve can see your Twitter activity.

When you sign up for Twitter, you are asked to provide a username. This is just a name that others will see when they come to your website. For instance, my Twitter username is @ckarasedu.

Twitter Vocabulary

Users can talk to each other by putting the @ symbol and the username of the person they'd like to talk to somewhere in their tweet. If someone types the @ symbol and your username before tweeting a message, you will see that tweet appear in your "mentions" tab; this serves to let you know that someone is talking to or about you in a status update.

Direct Messages (DMs)
Users can speak to each other privately by using the direct message (DM) feature. These messages are still limited to 140 characters each, but are away from the prying eyes of the public.

Retweet (RT)
A Retweet is when you liked what someone said so much that you want to send that exact same message out to all of your followers. Using the "retweet" button on Twitter makes it really easy to do that. If you press the "retweet" button {shown below}, Twitter automatically copies that person's entire tweet and attributes the words to the original poster.

If you're using Twitter on a computer, the Retweet button will look like this:

Notice that it's greyed out; that means you haven't Retweeted the message.

If you click on the Retweet word of the looping arrows next to it, you'll see this pop-up on a computer:

Click the blue button to confirm you want to Retweet that message. The pop-up will disappear, and the original "Retweet" word will appear in color underneath the original message in your feed:

This is what will appear in your newsfeed after you Retweet:

If you are using Twitter from the Twitter app, you have the option to quote a tweet {see the bottom of the picture below}.

Quoted tweets often start with RT @[username] and then have the message that the original user sent out. Before you send it, you have the option to add something to beginning or end of that message.  For instance, if I sent Hi, CISD colleagues! and you wanted to chime in, you might quote the tweet and send this message:

Hello, all! RT @ckarasedu "Hi, CISD colleagues!" 

It lets everyone know that you Retweeted someone else's message, but that you added something to it before sending it.

Users can sort the people they follow into lists, which are categories that you create and customize to your needs.

Let's imagine that I follow a lot of educators and retail stores on Twitter (sometimes companies will tweet coupons or deals for their store, so that's why they tend to have a large following). Those are two totally different groups, but I am interested in them both. When I log in to Twitter, I don't have time to read all the updates of every single person I follow; maybe I just want to read the things that educators have written since the last time I logged on.  In this case, I would create a list -- called "Teachers" or something -- and put all the educators I follow on that list. Now when I log in, I can choose to only read the updates from my "Teachers" list, and I don't waste any time at all.

You can make your lists private or public. If they're private, of course, only you can see the members of that list. If they're public, the rest of the world can see which users you put on the list, and other Twitter users can subscribe to that list.


Now that you know some basic Twitter vocabulary, you may want to check out some other posts about Twitter. Click the links below to view the information you need:

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