Day 7 of #RUL10DoT: Hashtags

Hashtags (using the # symbol) is where Twitter really gets interesting. Today is therefore a little more complex than usual, apologies! The hashtag is, like the @message, a feature that was developed by users of Twitter, and was taken up and integrated by the platform as it was so useful.

Basically, the hashtag is a form of metadata. A # in front of a word signals that it is a keyword of some sort, tagging that tweet with a hash symbol (hence hash-tag). This means that you can easily search for all other tweets by other people containing that word similarly marked with a hashtag symbol. In fact, you don’t even need to search – if you click on any hashtagged term, it will search for you.

The hashtag for 10 Days of Twitter is, as you’ve guessed, #RUL10DoT. You can therefore search for any tweets containing that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not. It’s how I found out who was participating in the 10 days of Twitter, right on the very first day when you sent a tweet with the hashtag in, and any tweets you’ve sent since using it.

(if you’re a Mac user and wondering where your hashtag key is, there isn’t one! You’ll need to press the alt key and the 3 key together to make the # symbol!)

A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by a #symbol, with no spaces or other characters. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #RUL10DoT, and it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people it’s relevant to. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word!) such as #ILoveTwitter (it can help to capitalise the individual words to make it easier to read). What it should be above anything else, though, is short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters!

How do you know what hashtags to use, or to search for? You make them up! If you’re creating a new hashtag, it’s good to do a search first and check if it’s been used before, and if it has been used before, whether you are going to use it in a similar way for similar people. If so, you’re joining a larger, pre-existing conversation! If not, then you might be confusing things, with a hashtag meaning different things to different people. If you’re talking to a limited, known group, as I am here, or as you might at a conference, then the hashtag might be meaningless to outsiders (which is probably fine – people for whom it’s relevant will probably be aware of it already or easily figure it out). If you’re creating a hashtag hoping to start a larger discussion which is open to anyone, then it needs to be self-explanatory and something that someone might very likely search for or guess, like #highered.

You’ll see people using hashtags you might be interested in when scanning your twitter feed, and if you click on the hashtag, you will find all the other tweets using that hashtag recently. Or you can search for hashtags, using the search box at the top. If you click on the ‘#Discover’ tab at the top of the screen, you’ll see the top hashtags that the people you follow are currently using. When you hear the phrase ‘trending on Twitter’, it means that there are a lot of people talking about the same thing, using a common hashtag. You might also ask for suggestions from your followers.

The hashtag for anything related to learning technology at Regent’s University is #RULtott

Hashtags really come in useful in academia in three ways.

An open, extended discussion

Someone might start a discussion about a topic on Twitter which is open to all to contribute, and it is drawn together using a common hashtag. #Twittergate (see Livetweeting below) is an example. You can also use it to gather responses. #OverlyHonestMethods is an amusing way for scientists to share the real thinking behind their methods, and give the public an insight into how science is done. #TweetMyThesis is one which also happened recently, sparked by this THE article, which you might like to contribute to – it’s a challenge! You might also be interested in other hashtags for education.

Livechat

A live chat is a conversation on Twitter which takes place in real time. A topic, time and a hashtag is agreed by the leaders, and they are joined on the day by people who want to talk about that topic with each other. Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts and share experiences. Popular ones which you might be interested in are #PhDchat and #ECRchat, which deal with the experience of being a PhD student or postdoc, and might offer some moral peer support! The Guardian Higher Education Network also hosts livechats on a Friday, on #HElivechat. Search for the hashtags to see what was discussed last time, and join in the next one!

Livetweeting

To livetweet an event means to tweet about it while you’re actually participating in it. Conferences or seminar presentations are often livetweeted. If you follow me, you may have picked up on my livetweeting of Regent’s Learning Technology  events using #RULtott.
•If you’re at a conference, livetweeting it is a great way to connect to other attendees. It’s easier to approach someone when you’ve been ‘talking’ to each other already on Twitter, and if you’re at the conference on your own, you can find people to hang out with.
•By livetweeting the presentations, you alert people who aren’t present that you are there, so they can find out more from you later if they couldn’t attend the conference, or were in a parallel session.
•You can let your followers know who was presenting, and a brief insight into what the papers were about – if it sounds interesting, then your followers can look up publications by those people.
•You can ask questions or for clarification from the presenter, from other conference attendees, or in fact anyone on Twitter, during the sessions. You can also enhance what the presenter is saying, with links to more information and comments on their presentation. Livetweeting is very visible, so do keep comments professional.
•It’s a way to continue conversations, perhaps with the presenter themselves, after the conference has finished.
•People following the livetweeting from elsewhere can still participate in the conference, addressing questions for the speakers via tweets. This is especially effective if the conference is also being livestreamed on the web, with live video and sound.
•Presenters themselves might find the tweets useful feedback, to see how people have responded to their paper.

However, livetweeting events must be approached sensitively and professionally. Some presenters may feel that the conference space is a closed group, and feel uncomfortable with their paper being conveyed outside the room to those who aren’t there. They may worry that their ideas and words are being misrepresented in 140 characters. It can also be quite distracting to see people typing away and surfing the internet when you’re presenting, even if it’s relevant!

If you’re livetweeting, then do:
•check with the organisers and presenters that it’s ok to livetweet
•alert your followers that you will be livetweeting so they’re not confused!
•make sure you tweet professionally – be polite and respectful! It will be very visible if you are being unpleasant about a colleague or peer.
•ensure that you reflect the speaker’s words as accurately as you can, and make it very clear, as with livetweets, that you are conveying someone else’s words.

So- look out for hashtags which mark a conversation you’d like to join in, perhaps a livechat, and experiment with livetweeting an event, no matter how small (could even be a TV or radio programme!) If you find any good hashtag conversations, let us know! And remember to tag them with #RUL10DoT!

Additional task:

Enter the ‘selfie’ Competion. Tweet a ‘selfie’ of yourself using the hashtag #RULselfie by Thursday to win some amazing prizes!

Day 6 of #RUL10DoT: Retweeting

You’ve send a few tweets over the last five days – hopefully you’ve found plenty in your everyday routine which would be of interest to others, whether they are your RUL colleagues, peers in your field, other professions within or beyond Higher Education such as policy, journalism or publishing, or to the general public.

But it really would be hard work to generate all the material yourself to feed your followers with regular, interesting tweets! Fortunately, you don’t have to – you can retweet the tweets of others. It’s sort of like forwarding an email, but to everyone who’s following you. They see the content of the original tweet, who it came from originally, and perhaps also a contextualising comment from you. By doing this, you’re performing a valuable service:
•to your followers, by sifting the stream of information available to them, filtering out what’s potentially interesting to them, and also by making them aware of potential new contacts they can add to their network. They may already follow the person you’ve retweeted, in which case you’re bringing their attention to something they may have missed the first time. They may not yet follow the original tweeter, in which case, you’ve made available to them information they may not have had access to, and given them a new contact to follow.
•to the people you follow, by amplifying their message and spreading it outside their network (and also possibly putting them in touch with new contacts)
•and of course, you’re displaying to others that you’re well connected to interesting and important people, and that you are a discerning judge of what information is interesting and significant!

I’ve been retweeting items I hoped might be of interest to you and my other followers on @chri5rowell over the last week. To retweet a message, you simply click on the ‘retweet’ button which appears below each tweet when you hover over it.

The message will then appear in your followers’ twitter streams as if it appeared from the original sender, even though they may not follow them (although they might!). The tweet that they see will be marked with ‘retweeted by @yourname’ in small lettering, so if they look, they can tell that it was you who retweeted it.

However, as with sending @messages using ‘reply’, if you simply use Twitter’s ‘retweet’ button, you’re missing out on retweeting in the most effective way. The etiquette around retweeting is very much in sympathy with academic conventions of acknowledgement. You can quote the tweet – you can either copy and paste the text into your own tweet, or if you are using an app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck (we’ll look at these later on!), they give you the option to quote and edit, or just retweet. This makes the tweet come from your account, rather than the original sender, making it clear that it’s you who has chosen to pass this information on.

However, that would make it look as if you’re claiming that it’s your tweet. To clarify that you’re retweeting, the convention is to
•start the tweet by adding a comment of your own, if you wish and if there is room! If you don’t add any comment, then your retweet may be ambiguous – are you endorsing the original tweet? Plus, it may add context, value and character for your followers if you add something of your own.
•write RT (which stands for retweet) and then the original tweeter’s @name
•copy and paste their original tweet.

So, to the original tweet, you’ll need to add RT and @name, and possibly quotation marks if you feel you need to clarify any further. Of course, as you only have 140 characters, adding these will eat into the original message!

You can, of course, cut out any part of the original tweet you feel is unnecessary, or to make space for your own comment, but to signal that you’ve done so, it’s polite to write MT (modified tweet) instead of RT. This is all a good reason to keep your own tweets as short as possible and not use up all 140 characters, so your own tweets can be easily retweeted!

If you want to retweet just a URL link that someone has passed on rather than their comment, you can add ‘via @name’ or HT @name (HT stands for Hat Tip) to clarify that you found the source through them.

Remember that to use Twitter effectively to promote your own work, you need to update frequently with interesting content to gain a following, and you also need to reciprocate and promote the work of others. No one wants to read or retweet a Twitter feed which is just broadcasting announcements about itself!

So have a look at your twitter stream and see if you can find tweets you think your followers might be interested in – funding opportunities, calls for papers, an item of news, a new blog post or publication someone’s tweeted about, a comment you agree with…and start retweeting!

DAY Five of RUL10DoT: Tweeting URL’s

You can’t say a lot in 140 characters – but you can link to other places on the web where a topic can be discussed at greater length, perhaps in an article or blog post. Maybe you’ve seen a new publication, item of news or a webpage you want to comment on or pass on to your followers. Perhaps you’ve just posted something on a blog or website, uploaded a resource or published an article and you want to encourage people to have a look. Twitter works really well as a way to bring people’s attention to other, longer things online.

You can simply copy and paste a website’s URL into a tweet. However, many URLs are pretty long, and even if they fit into 140 characters, it leaves less space for you to add a contextualising explanation or comment which will encourage people to click on the link. Fortunately, Twitter has an inbuilt URL shortener, which will cut the link down to 20 characters.

You can also use other URL-shortening sites, which will cut the link down to even less. Try these ones:
•Tinyurl.com
•Goo.gl (owned by Google, obviously! If you have a Google+ account, you can track statistics on click-through, useful if you’re evaluating publicity strategies for a new web resource or event)
•Ow.ly (you can also add links to photos, files and videos with this site, useful for spicing up livetweets from conferences or events)
•Bit.ly (you can also track click-throughs with this site)

When tweeting a link, it’s good practice to begin your tweet with a brief comment explaining what it is and why you’re tweeting it. A URL by itself doesn’t necessarily say much about content or provenance, and a shortened URL using one of the above services gives nothing away at all about what it is. Your followers will likely ignore your tweet and the link if they can’t immediately see what it’s about, where it’s from and why they should be interested.

A tweet with only a shortened link in it is very likely to be spam and senders of such tweets are likely to be blocked. Moreover, it might be assumed that by sharing a link, you are endorsing the content, so if not, it would be as well to add a comment stating your stance on it – do you agree, or disagree? Or is it simply that you found it useful and think your followers might too? Another reason to keep the URL as it is rather than use a URL shortener is longevity – if that URL shortening service is withdrawn, the link will no longer work. It’s a trade-off between keeping it short, having some comment and analytics, and longevity and a bit more context in the URL.

So what might you link to?
•a news story about Higher Education with a comment on how it’s reported
•a conference or funding call that’s been announced
•a blog post you found interesting (and whether you agree or not)
•slides or other material from a presentation you attended (or gave!)
•a video on youtube or vimeo, perhaps of a presentation or talk, or public engagement
•something you’ve uploaded yourself. This blog is set to update automatically on Twitter whenever I post something new (which is why there is a hashtag in the blog post title! It will also become a tweet). Try and personalise the automatic update message yourself if you can.
•your publications. There’s evidence that tweeting about your research output really helps to increase views, and therefore possibly citations, especially if you follow strategies such as those suggested here.

•a book or article you recommend (or don’t recommend…)

 

You’re not expected to spend time deliberately looking for links to tweet to your followers; this is more a byproduct from anything you happen to be doing online anyway. And with more and more sites including a ‘Share This’ button or buttons for the various social media platforms, it’s very easy and quick to do. This is part of what we mean by being an ‘Open Scholar’ in the digital age – it costs you very little to share your useful daily digital finds with others, so why not?

See what you come across today online, and remember to tweet it to your followers!

Usefull FREE book – The Digital Scholar by Martin Weller

 

 

DAY FOUR of RUL10DoT: Sending @messages

You’ve sent some tweets, followed people and hopefully gained some followers of your own. Some people prefer to listen more than they tweet, which is fine – the only thing to consider is, the more you say about your interests and interact with others, the more people will know what kind of information might be useful to you, and direct relevant things your way. It’s a way of fine-tuning your twitter feed as well as providing useful information to others.

Sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone – it will be visible to other followers, but you want to catch a particular person’s attention with it. This might be because
•you are replying to or responding to one of their tweets,
•asking them a question,
•because you think they might be particularly interested in the information passed on in your tweet and want to make sure it catches their eye,
•or because you mention them in the tweet and want them to know, for example, if you retweet one of their tweets or are talking about their work.
•It may also be that you don’t follow that person, or they don’t follow you, but you still want to catch their attention with one particular tweet: they will still see it if you include their @username.

For example:
•hey, @chri5rowell, enjoyed your presentation! Do you know @libgoddess’s work on this subject?
•Giving a talk at your uni next week, @Chri5rowell – are you around for coffee? would be great to meet up!
•Great resources on using social media in teaching – of interest, @chri5rowell ? http://www.edudemic.com/guides/
•Reading @libgoddess’s chapter on information literacy: some intriguing ideas! http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=8224
•I recommend this too! RT @scholastic_rat “a good read on digital scholarship! http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/DigitalScholar_9781849666275/book-ba-9781849666275.xml

To call someone’s attention to a tweet with an @mention, you use their username or ‘handle’ preceded by a @ sign. For example, to let me know you’ve mentioned me, you would include ‘@chri5rowell’ in the tweet. If you click the ‘reply’ option which appears in grey in each tweet, Twitter will automatically insert the person’s @name into your tweet (we’ll look at the other options that appear in each tweet later!)

This is another reason to keep your Twitter name as short as you can – it uses up some of the 140 characters! This is a feature that originated with the users of Twitter, which was then subsequently designed into the platform. It’s what has turned Twitter from a broadcast medium of updates into a conversation, and that’s Twitter’s real strength.

Note – as the @ sign is reserved for marking people’s handles, you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at’, for example, ‘let’s meet @6pm @cafe’ – it will treat these as an @message, and it’s likely that someone, somewhere, will have chosen @6pm or @cafe as a handle!

A small but important point is where you place the @username. If you are responding to a tweet, using the ‘reply’ button, then Twitter will automatically begin your tweet response with the @username, and you can then type the rest of your message. However, if the very first thing in the tweet is someone’s @username, then only that person and those who follow both of you will be able to see it. If you want the tweet to have a wider audience, then you either need to put a full stop in front of the @ sign like this: .@chri5rowell OR you could include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence, for example: ‘reading @chri5rowell’s blog post about Twitter – some useful tips!’

Why might you want a wider audience to see conversations between you and another user?

What’s in it for them:
•It’s polite to acknowledge them if you’re retweeting something they’ve said, or to let them know if you’re commenting on their work
•You are drawing attention to them and their work to people who don’t already follow them – they get publicity and new followers

What’s in it for you:
•You gain a reputation as a polite, helpful, knowledgeable and well-connected professional
•You may also gain new followers or make new connections

What’s in it for your followers:
•They get to know about someone’s work which they may have been unaware of, and a new person to follow
•They are offered a chance to contribute to the discussion too, and thereby gain new contacts and audiences
•If replying to someone who’s passed on useful information to you specifically, it’s helpful to copy in their reply to your tweet response, in case your followers are also interested in the information.

Of course, there may be times when you don’t want a wide audience to see the interaction, if it’s not going to be understandable out of context, or of interest to them but just cluttering up their feed, and in these cases, you can just start the message with ‘@’. Remember that Twitter is a very public medium, and whether you @message someone or not, your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile. If you really want to send a message to just one person, but don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, Twitter allows you to send them a DM or Direct Message. (if you want to practice sending a Direct Message, feel free to contact me!)

To see @messages directed at you, click on the tab marked Notifications with the bell icon, at the top of the screen.

Notification

 

They will also appear in your Twitter stream, but you may miss them there! Depending on your settings, you can also receive an email when someone @messages you. To set your account to email you when someone mentions you, click on Settings (the little cog icon at the top) and then ‘Email Notifications’ in the left hand menu.

So – send some @messages to people you follow- ask them a question, draw their attention to something, comment on something they’ve tweeted! Reply to anyone who messages you, to be polite, if they appear genuine and professional. And remember to send @RUL10DoT an @message to tell me how it’s going!

EXTRA TASK!

As it’s Friday, let’s try using the #ff or Follow Friday convention. Did you follow anyone on Wednesday whose tweets turned out to be really useful, who you think we should be following? Let us know! A typical Follow Friday tweet might look like this:

Follow the awesome VLE team at Regent’s  #ff@BryonyBramer @amveryshaw@Witterquick @malkatraz

DAY THREE #RUL10DoT – Who to follow?

You’ve sent your first tweets, creating interesting and engaging content for your potential followers. The other side to Twitter, of course, is the stream of information brought to you by the people you follow. And if you follow people, chances are they will take a look at your profile and decide to follow you in return (which is why setting up a profile with some engaging tweets first was important!).

One of the key features of Twitter is that unlike other platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, following is not necessarily reciprocal – the people you follow may not be the people who follow you (although they may be!). There is no obligation to follow someone just because they follow you. Some people have a more-or-less even match of followers and following; others follow lots of people but don’t tweet much themselves and therefore don’t have many followers; and some tweeters, usually very well-known people or institutions, may have a large number of followers as they tweet a lot but don’t actually follow as many people, using Twitter more as a broadcast medium to get their message out there.

As an individual professional, you’re probably going to get the most benefit in the first instance for the first option, having roughly the same number of followers and following. Twitter works best as a dialogue, and this won’t happen if you’re doing all the talking, or have no one to talk to! This is true even for those tweeting in an official capacity on behalf of their department or research group, although they may have more followers than people they follow, it’s still useful to follow some people, services or institutions so you have other useful information to pass on as well as just promoting your own interests. And following people will give you a sense of how it’s done when you send your own tweets.

How many people you follow is up to you, although perhaps 100 is a good number to aim for (not all today!), to ensure a useful stream of content. Think about what sort of information you want access to, and what sorts of tweeters are likely to offer it (see the list below for some suggestions). It is an organic process and will take time to build up, and don’t forget that you can always unfollow people if the content they tweet is not useful to you! The ‘follow’ button will simply turn to ‘unfollow’, giving you this option. There are ways to find out if you’ve been unfollowed, but there is no automatic alert and generally people don’t bother to check!

To follow someone, simply click on their profile (their name or picture) and click the ‘Follow’ button below their details:

Regent's Library

So how do you find people to follow? When you first sign up to Twitter, it will suggest people for you to follow, or invite you to search for names or keywords, but this can be a bit hit and miss. Some people give up at this point, thinking it’s all pop stars and people tweeting about their breakfast!

At this point, it might be useful to know who else is participating in the programme, so I’ve compiled a list of everyone who sent the tweet I suggested yesterday, so you can find and follow each other!

@MarkEAllinson
@Houzermix
@nobrandname
@mvpoulton
@viagregory
@regentslingo
@jetsumgerl
@JSRegents
@malkatraz
@randal_olson
@regentslibrary
@girl_inthelab
@Mangionk
@RegentsAlumni
@i_lernin
@PhilVincent
@rjmcculloch
@mikko_arevuo
@lornajwalker
@BryonyBramer
@regentsuni
@fech@contremann
@Lawrie
@Witterquick
@amveryshaw
@MarkEAllinson
@Houzermix
@nobrandname
@mvpoulton
@viagregory
@regentslingo
@jetsumgerl
@JSRegents
@malkatraz

@julianchilds

…..also there is @remycat2014

REMY

This is not a an exhaustive list – please leave a comment if I’ve missed you off the list!

Here are more suggestions to build a useful feed of information that might work well for you as an academic.

1. ‘Celebrity’ academics and media dons Following well-known people and commentators in academia will give you some ideas of how to build your profile and impact, as well as offering commentary on education policy, news on developments in Higher Education, access to their own network of followers and interesting material to retweet to your followers. You could follow Education researchers such as Tara Brabazon or academics such as Athene Donald, Brian Cox or Mary Beard, who write on academia and academic impact more broadly.

2. Professional Bodies For updates about events, news, policy, or funding opportunities, your professional body will be very useful. Try for example the Institute or College representing your discipline (for example, The Royal Society, Royal College of Nursing, Chartered Management Institute or British Academy. There are also general Higher Education organisations such as Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) which have a Twitter presence. You can also follow specific universities’ research institutes if they have twitter feeds.

3. Funding Bodies For calls for funding and other news, follow bodies such as the Research Councils UK (@research_uk), the individual councils or bodies such as the EPSRC, AHRC, ESRC or JISC

4. Academic and Professional Press Education press such as @TimesHigherEd, @InsideHigherEd or @gdnHigherEd will give you access to general HE news stories which may interest you or your followers. Discipline specific publications such as New Scientist, Nursing Times or the Economist also have their own Twitter feeds, and many academic journals and publishers too, such as the various Nature journals such as NatureChemistry, or NatureMedicine.

Following individual journalists too might be a way to hear about interesting stories or even raise your own profile in the press. Many journals also have their own Twitter accounts which they may use to interact with potential contributors or interviewees.

5. Colleagues in your discipline Following other colleagues in your field on Twitter is a fantastic way to network. Search for people you know or have heard of to see if they have a Twitter account, both senior and more junior academics. Search by name or by keyword, or import contacts from your LinkedIn account, or from your email account, especially JISCmail lists. Following the ‘backchannel’ of tweets around large annual conferences are a good way to find out who’s on twitter.

6. Academic mentors There are several academic bloggers and tweeters who create a supportive community for other academic professionals and research students, who have really useful advice and experiences to share on the various aspects of being or becoming an academic, from writing and publication to managing your career. Useful advice to pass on to your students, and possibly useful for you too. You could try jobs.ac.uk for career advice or follow @thesiswhisperer, @researchwhisperer, @ECRchat, @ThomsonPat, @NetworkedRes @earlycareerblog and even @phdcomics Do you know of any others?

7. Public Engagement and Impact Following the university’s marketing and public engagement team and other researchers interested in impact will help you be aware of events which you might volunteer for, or interesting ways to present research to other audiences. Follow ARU’s official twitter feed. Try also the Festival of Ideas, Cambridge Science Festival or NakedScientists. You could also follow commentators such as Ben Goldacre or Simon Singh.

8. Associated services and professionals There are lots of people on Twitter who can offer you useful information, but aren’t in your profession. Follow librarians, disability advisers, employability advisers, learning technologists and researcher, learning and staff developers…all useful people to learn from and collaborate with, and stay in touch with what’s happening around the university!

9. Policy makers If you’re interested in government education policy, you could always follow individual politicians, the Government department for Education, WONKHE or the select committees for Business, Information and Skills or Education. You could also follow bodies such as the QAA, HEFCE, Sutton Trust or HESA.

10. Industry and other sectors To keep an eye on developments in the sector, possible future impacts and applications of your research, or developments which might affect what you’re working on, you could follow some of the professional bodies or companies which represent the types of sector related to your research. If you’re interested in UK Government policy on science, you could follow for example individual politicians and ministers, or the relevant Select Committees e.g.Science or Health (or the equivalent in other countries).

Twitter is partly about the information you tweet, but also about the information you gain from the people you follow. Spend some time reading your twitter feed to see what comes up!

How to grow your Twitter feed from here:

Twitter will suggest people for you to follow based on who you’re currently following. This can be a bit random at first, as you’re not following many people so there’s nothing for its algorithm to work on. There are other ways to add people to your Twitter feed:

Snowball – look at the profile of the people you’re following – who do they follow, and who else is following them? You can see who’s following you, or anyone else, by going to your or their profile, and clicking on ‘followers’.

Regent's Library 5

Retweets – people you follow will retweet things they think might be of interest. Keep an eye out for interesting retweets from accounts you don’t yet follow, and add them. We’ll cover retweeting in future Days.

Hashtags – especially around livechats or livetweeted events such as conferences. Joining a discussion around a hashtag is a good way to find more people interested in that topic or event. We’ll also cover hashtags in future Days.

#FF or #FollowFriday – this is a convention on Twitter that on Fridays you can tweet the names of people you think are worth following to others. Watch out for these, or tweet your followers and ask them for recommendations!

Follows You will be notified when new people follow you – look at their profile to see if they are someone you want to follow back. If you suspect one of your new followers is spam, you can ‘block’ them using the head icon next to the ‘Follow” button, and selecting ‘block’. It’s as well to do this, especially as people may be looking through your followers for ideas of who to follow, and if lots of your followers are spam, it doesn’t look good!

So -go find some people to follow, and in spare moments through the day, watch the feed of tweets and information they’re sending. If you find any other interesting people you think others should follow, let us know! Remember to keep an eye out for tweets from @RUL10DoT!

 

DAY TWO #RUL10DoT: Sending tweets

Welcome to day Two of #RUL10DoT.

Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters, which doesn’t seem much. In academia, we almost always write at length about complex ideas, so it’s difficult to say something meaningful in such a short amount of text. But that doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial or only used to tweet about frivolous things. Many people, especially in an HE context, who are new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates about whatever they’re doing would be interesting to others. But there are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of very practical use to others. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from academic tweeters and see what kinds of information they share, to get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 140 characters.

The appropriate tone for a professional twitter account needn’t be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. In fact, you’ll have to be a bit informal if you want to fit everything in, using abbreviations and even textspeak! Even if tweeting on behalf of a department or group, you need to be engaging rather than formal. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that your tweets can be kept by others, even if you delete them (more on this on Day 10). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context.

Some examples of what you might tweet about:
•an article you’re reading that’s interesting or a book you recommend
•an online resource you’ve stumbled across
•a workshop, webinar, seminar or conference you’re going to – others may not have known about it, may want to meet you if they’re also going to be there, or may want to ask you about it if they can’t make it
•a new person you met today who might be a good contact for you or others in future
•some insight on academic work from an incident that happened today
•advice, tips or insights into how you teach or research for students or other colleagues
•a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
•slides from a talk or lecture which you’ve just uploaded online
•your thoughts on an education or other news story relevant to your work
•a funding, project or job opportunity you’ve just seen
•a digital tool or software you’re using or problem you’ve solved with it
•a typical day – an insight into an academic’s life or moral support
•your new publication or report which has just come out (there are ways of mentioning this gracefully!)

Sending a tweet is really easy – when you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a box on the left hand side, which says ‘Compose a tweet’. If you click in the box, you’ll be able to write your tweet and then click the ‘Tweet’ button. You can also use the feather quill pen icon in the top right of the screen to compose.

DAY ONE – #RUL10DoT Setting up your profile

Welcome to Twitter, and to #RUL10DoT!

To start off with, you’ll need to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword, as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:

Twitter is a conversation.

Setting up an account on Twitter is the easy part! First download the app to your phone or go to the Twitter website

There’s still a few things to think about, though, in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile using:
•your handle (@name), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you
•your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their twitter feed, on a quick glance
•your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage
•your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will sum up who you are and why people might want to follow you
•the overall look of your twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it
•and additional accounts, which you might want to set up to appeal to different audiences (you will need to use different email address to do so though, as each is linked to a separate account)

If you already have a Twitter account, then you could use this post to refine your profile and your overall aims and audience.

What purpose do you want to set up an account for? With Twitter, you can have more than one account, as it is not limited to single real life identities like Facebook or LinkedIn are. Many people will start off with a personal, individual account to get used to Twitter, and then think about other ways in which they might use it to represent a group or service. For example, I’m both @chri5rowell for individual professional conversations, and also @RUL10DoT for this programme! You might wish to set up an impersonal account to publicise your department, service, or other activity such as a conference team, journal, research group, module or programme like this one.

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the  Twitter site to set up an account:
•You’ll firstly need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up and create an account. Different accounts will need separate email addresses.
•At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym which people associate with you in some way. Don’t worry – you can change this later without losing your followers or tweets, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. If you want to set up an account to represent an activity or group, then something which will be memorable, clearly be identified with any known branding of your activity, and work well on publicity will be essential.
•The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but I recommend you skip this step for now – we will look at it on Day Three! Twitter will ask you to follow at least six people before you can skip on to filling out your profile – I would suggest you follow some of these accounts as a good start: @chri5rowell (me), @RUL10DoT (this programme’s twitter feed), @regentsuni (the University’s twitter feed), @fechtbuch (Andy Horton – Deputy Library Manager) @regentslibrary (Regent’s LIbrary), @lornajwalker (Lorna Walker – Lecturer in Marketing – Regent’s Uni), @matthias_feist (Mattias Feist – Head of carrersa nd Business Relations). If you want more ideas on who to follow click on this link to see a good article by Andy Horton:
•The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel more encouraged to follow you.
1.Upload a profile picture. When skimming through a twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be of you, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers in real life at conferences! Full body pictures work less well as at the size of a thumbnail image, it’s hard to pick out your face!). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name, as long as it’s striking. If you are setting up an account for a service then the service logo is an obvious choice, but do check the policy on the use of University logos with the corporate marketing team. Make sure the image is clear enough, as it appear as a small icon. Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer! You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more.
2.Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture (as I do – I have a common name!), your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’ – again, useful at conferences! If you use Twitter to represent a department or group, then the ‘full’ version of its title, especially if your @name is an acronym, would be something to add here.
3.Add a location (this could also be an institution or other affiliation). Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university or HE body you are affiliated with, lending you credibility and authority.
4.Add a URL to a personal website or webpage if you have one. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
5.Add a ‘bio’. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to encourage people and give them a reason to follow you. Again, a blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting. If you intend to tweet in a professional capacity, then avoid too much about your hobbies and family or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. It tells potential contacts nothing about why they might want to follow you or what kinds of information you are likely to be passing on to them, and therefore why they would want to network with you professionally. Some people like to add that they are “tweeting in a personal capacity” or that the “views are my own” to clarify that their tweets do not reflect the views of their employer, although you may feel that this is clear enough anyway.
6.You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter- is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?

People will often view your profile page when deciding whether to follow you, and you might give out the URL to your profile page e.g. on your email signature or business card if you want to ask someone to follow you, so it is worth making it informative and distinctive. It will also be an important part of your publicity if you’re tweeting in a group capacity for your service. Today. we’re mostly looking at the information in the tab at the top labelled ‘Me’, which is where people will find your profile:

Explore customising your Twitter profile page in the Settings.

Click on the cog icon at the top, and select Settings. In the Settings, you can:

  • Change your Header image – the one that sits behind your avatar. Go to Profile to upload an image.
  • Change the Background of the whole page, using one of the premade themes or design and upload your own. I’ve customised both the Header and Background of my profile – have a look and see what you think.

Twitter

 

You can create more Twitter accounts, for other aspects of your life, and it’s best not to mix content and audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them or confuse them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Now, to let us know how you’re getting on, why not leave a comment on this blogpost with your twitter handle and a link to the URL of your profile? Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know by leaving a comment! If you’re finding it hard to get in touch through the blog, do email me at rowellc@regents.ac.uk

S0 – you have an account on Twitter now, with an engaging profile which invites others to follow your tweets. That’s enough for day one!