Day 10 of #CU10DoT: Getting the most out of Twitter

Welcome to the last day of #CU10Dot.

We’ve covered lots in the last two weeks and it’s been fun and informative putting the #CU10DoT blog posts together.

This is the third time I’ve run #CU10DoT and each time there have been a number of changes to incorporate. This time included: the increase of Tweet character limit from 140 -280, the very recent introduction of bookmarks and the demise of Storify. I searched for a replacement for Storify and am going to try Wakelet in the future.

I’ve had my submission to PressED – a WordPress Twitter Conference on all things education, pedagogy and research accepted.  My contribution on the topic of #CU10DoT is scheduled for for 11:50 am on March the 29th 2018.

I enjoyed looking for some further reading on the topic of using Twitter for academics to share with you…which leads to the final (and ongoing) activity of #CU10DoT:

Activity

Look out for articles, blogposts and websites that mention using Twitter for academics. When you discover something useful, let us know by tagging with #CU10DoT!

Thank-you to those who’ve joined in.

Please let me know your thoughts about #CU10DoT in the comments and/or Twitter.

Happy Tweeting to you all,

Heather (@HJSears)

Further reading

Patrick Iber Guidance on how to make Twitter work for academic purposes

Leigh Sparks My Serious Academic Use of Blogs and Twitter

The Chronicle of Higher Education: 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Getting Started on Academic Twitter v2.0

 

Day 9 of #CU10DoT: Archiving & Scheduling Tweets

Twitter is ephemeral. Tweets are short, throwaway observations, which capture the present moment, flow past quickly and are succeeded by more recent and relevant ones. Why would you want to keep a tweet? Why would you want to tweet in advance?

 Further Reading

Day 8 of #CU10DoT: Lists

Twitter Lists

Over the last 7 days, you may have found that as you continue to use Twitter, you come across more and more interesting people to follow, and your following also grows exponentially. Keeping track of them all can be a challenge, and sometimes you will want to focus on certain groups of them over others, or check in on some people only sporadically. This is hard to do in the undifferentiated stream of tweets on your Twitter feed, where they are all mixed in together. Fortunately, there are ways to split up your Twitter stream and group the people you follow into separate streams, so you can keep an eye on their tweets as it suits you.

You might want to group the people you follow into any of the types that we looked at in Day Three. Some examples might be:

  • Colleagues or services at your institution
  • Colleagues and peers across the country/world in a particular field
  • Professional or funding bodies
  • News accounts
  • Social, personal or fun accounts

Twitter has a feature which allows you to make lists of people – and you need not follow all of them to add them to a list. These lists can be private, so only you can see them, or they might be public so you can share them with others.

You might create such a list for the benefit of others, for example, to bring together the attendees at a workshop or conference, or the top accounts on a particular topic which you recommend other people should follow. You can share a list by giving people the URL of the list page, or let them view the lists you’ve created on your profile, where they can subscribe to your lists too.

Creating a list on Twitter

Go to your profile icon at the top right of the page (beside the Tweet button). Select ‘Lists’, and you will see a page which will contain any lists you will make. Click on ‘Create list’, and you will be asked to name your new list and add a brief description. This description will be very helpful if you now choose to make the list public, so others can find and subscribe to it.

You will now be invited to search for people to add to your list. You can also add them later, by clicking on their @handle and going to their profile.

Next to the ‘Follow(ing)’ button, you will see the Settings icon (looks like a cog or gear). If you click on this, you will see a menu containing the option ‘add or remove from lists’ (this is also where you can send them private Direct Messages, as in Day 4). While we’re on the topic of managing people, you can also block or report people using this menu, for example, if you are followed by a spam account or someone you don’t want following you.

The quickest way to add a lot of people you are already following to a list is to go to your profile page, click on Following. Then you’ll be able to click on the cog beside each person you want to add to your list.

 

To view tweets from your lists, you can simply go to your Twitter profile page and click on ‘lists’ from the toolbar above your tweets.

To subscribe to/follow other people’s lists:

You can benefit from other people’s connections and effort by subscribing to lists they have created. You can even follow lists without following the individual users in that list.

  1. Click on Lists when viewing someone’s profile
  2. Decide which list you’d like to subscribe to and click on the title.
  3. From the list page, click Subscribe (upper left) to follow the list.

I’ve started to compile a list of ‘Coventry Colleagues’ that you may like to subscribe to.

 Activity!

Think about the kinds of updates you’ve seen on Twitter so far from the people you follow. Who do you most want to see tweets from? Try making a list of your colleagues on Twitter, or perhaps one for the professional and funding bodies you follow. Share a link to your list by tweeting it or posting it in the comments section below.

See you for day 9 tomorrow :0)

Heather (@HJSears)

Further reading:

Day 7 of #CU10DoT: Hashtags & Trends

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, #CU10DoT. You can therefore search for any tweets containing that hashtag, whether you follow the people using it or not (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 #CU10DoT, 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.

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 researchers to share the real thinking behind their methods, and give the public an insight into how research is done. You could contribute to #tweetmythesis – I had to hunt down my thesis to compose mine!

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!

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 conferences I might attend such as the Researcher Education & Development Conference #redsconf2017. This may be done in an official capacity, with organisers inviting participants to livetweet the papers, giving attendees a pre-agreed ‘official’ hashtag to use, running up to the event, during and after, to find out who’s going to be there, what the papers were about, and any follow-up questions. A live stream of the tweets at the conference may even be displayed alongside the speaker on a ‘tweetwall’, using a tool such as Hootfeed.

  • 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. You might, for example, tweet:

Activity

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 #CU10DoT!

Day 6 of #CU10DoT: Retweeting

Retweeting

You’ve sent a few tweets over the last week – hopefully you’ve found plenty in your everyday routine as an academic which would be of interest to others, whether they are your Coventry 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 @HJSears over the last week. To retweet a message, you simply click on the ‘retweet’ button and 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 using Quoting.

Quoting

All you do is click “Retweet” as you normally would but now there is a box with “Add a comment…” that appears before the final “Retweet” button – click to send it live. On iOS you simply select “Quote Tweet” and add your comment from there. The end result is your comment above the original tweet, including the original photo if it had one.

Activity

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! Use the #CU10DoT hashtag if you think it will be of interest to this community.

Heather (@HJSears)

Further Reading

Twitter: Retweeting another Tweet

 

Day 5 of #CU10DoT: Tweeting Links and Images

So we’ve covered a fair bit in the last four days. Now it’s time to start making more from the tweets we send, so today we’ll look at tweeting links and images.

Tweeting Links (URLs)

You can’t say a lot in 280 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 280 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:

  • Bit.ly (you can also track click-throughs with this site)
  • Ow.ly (you can also add links to photos, files and videos with this site, useful for spicing up livetweets from conferences or events)
  • 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)

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.  It might be assumed that by sharing a link, you are endorsing the content so, if not, a comment stating your stance on it – do you agree, or disagree? – might be appropriate. Or is it simply that you found it useful and think your followers might too?

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 book or article you recommend (or don’t recommend…)
  • 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 to get your research mentioned on-line.

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. 

Adding images to your tweets

There is increasing data available (from Twitter’s new analytics service) that suggests tweets with images in them get more traction and attention from other users. So how do we add images?

  • Begin a tweet as normal.
  • If you’re using the web, click Add photo. If you’re using a mobile Twitter app, tap the camera icon to take a photo or to choose an existing photo from your gallery.
  • Once a photo is selected, you will see a thumbnail image or the image file name appear as an attachment. You can select up to 4 images to tweet at once. To remove the image file you selected, click or tap the x on the image thumbnail (or next to the file name).
    • Some mobile Twitter apps will allow you to enhance, apply a filter, or crop an image once you select it.
    • To tag up to 10 people in your photo, select Who’s in this photo? and type in a full name or an @ username and then tap Done. A person’s security settings will determine if you can tag them or not. To remove a tag, tap the tag and then the backspace or delete button. You can only do this before you tweet the photo. You can’t remove tags from a photo once it is tweeted.
  • Tap/click Tweet to post your message and photo(s). Your Tweet’s character count will update to include the pic.twitter.com URL for your photo(s).

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?

Activity

See what you come across today online, and remember to tweet it to your followers! Try and include an image as well if you can (and don’t forget to include #CU10DoT).

Further reading:

Day 4 of #CU10DoT: Replies, Mentions and Direct Messaging

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.

So today we’re looking at sending some tweets, and when we tweet other people there are a couple of options – an Mention is simply mentioning another user in your tweet. A Reply is pretty much the same thing – essentially you’re just replying to someone’s tweet. Finally a Message (Direct Message or DM) is a private message that only that user can see.

Replies and Mentions

A reply is a response to another person’s Tweet. You can reply by clicking or tapping the reply icon  from a Tweet.

When you reply to someone else, your Tweet will show the message Replying to… when viewed in your profile page timeline. When someone replies to one of your Tweets you will see Replying to you above the Tweet and you will receive a notification in your Notifications tab.

 

A mention is a Tweet that contains another person’s @username anywhere in the body of the Tweet. 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:

  • Thank-you – will be using your trust research in our supervision development #redsconf2016

You think they might be particularly interested in the information passed on in your tweet and want to make sure it catches their eye:

  • So far this morning – mixed methods, ethics – and now real life quantitative data analysis Doctoral School

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. For example:

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:

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 ‘@HJSears’ in the tweet. This is another reason to keep your Twitter name reasonably short – 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.

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 – if you are responding to a tweet, using the ‘reply’ button, then only that person and those who follow both of you will be able to see it.

If you click or tap on a reply in your timeline, it will expand to display the Tweet that was replied to. If someone sends you a reply and you are not following them, the reply will not appear in your Home timeline. Instead, the reply will appear in your Notifications tab.

If you want the tweet to have a wider audience include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence, for example: ‘reading @HJSears 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.

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

Messages / Direct Messages

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 that person follows you.

To see your direct messages, click on the Messages tab.

 Depending on your settings, you can also receive an email when someone either mentions or direct messages you – there are a number of options related to receiving notifications. To set your account to email you when someone mentions you, click your profile picture on the menu banner at the top of the page and from the menu select ‘settings’. From the menu that appears, click Email notifications (from the left) and set the options to reflect your email preferences.

Activity

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 me (@HJSears) an @message to tell me how it’s going!

Extension Activity

As an extension activity, and if you haven’t already, you could try downloading the twitter app for your smartphone or tablet. Things look slightly different but essentially the key features are the same.

Heather (@HJSears)

Further reading:

Day 3 of #CU10DoT: Following people

So, 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 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 from the first option (at least in the short term), 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! I refer to this well known question when I think about this:

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

So having followers and following other often work hand-in-hand. This is true even for those tweeting in an official capacity on behalf of their service. 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 service. 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! 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! If you decide that you no longer wish to follow someone on Twitter but you don’t want them to know, you can use Twitter’s Mute feature. This will prevent that user’s tweets from being displayed on your Twitter stream. If you change your mind, you can unmute an account at anytime. For instructions on how to Mute Users on Twitter, visit the Twitter Help Centre.

How do I follow someone?

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

How do I find people and organisations to follow?

So how do you find people to follow? When you first sign up to Twitter, they 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!

Here are more suggestions (not exhaustive!) to build a useful feed of information that might work well for you as a researcher. If the suggestions aren’t suited to you personally, they should give you an idea as to who/what to search for e.g. a google search using your own keywords and ‘Twitter’ would likely be successful, and you can also try the search tool in Twitter. Finally, keep a look out for Twitter’s list of ‘suggested people’ you should follow. This is suggested based on an algorithm of your friend’s friends. If  you are logged into Twitter the links will open in your profile and you’ll will open and you’ll be able to click on ‘Follow’.

  1. ‘Celebrity’ academics – 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 academics such as Athene Donald or Mary Beard, who both write on academia in general.
  2. Professional Bodies and Learned Societies – For updates about events, news, policy, or funding opportunities, your professional body will be very useful, for example The Royal Society and the British Academy.
  3. Funding Bodies – For calls for funding and other news in the UK, Research Councils UK , the individual councils EPSRC, AHRC, ESRC and other funding bodies such as the Newton Fund.
  4. Academic and Professional Press – Education press such as @TimesHigherEd or @gdnHigherEd will give you access to news stories which may interest you or your followers. Following their 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 are useful for updates on calls for contributions or new contents.
  5. Your institution – Follow Coventry University’s official accounts @covcampus and Coventry Uni News, Doctoral College & Centre for Research Capability and Development, Centre for Academic Writing, research centres such as CTPSR, CAWR, CBiS and projects for example @CARNIVAL_covuni
  6. Colleagues in your discipline – Building up a network of colleagues on Twitter is a fantastic way to support your work – whether it’s sharing every-day practice or debating approaches around a particular subject area. Search for people you know to see if they have a Twitter account. Search by name or by keyword, or import contacts from your LinkedIn account or email.
  7. Academic Mentors – There are several bloggers and tweeters who create a supportive community for other academic professionals and 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! Follow @thesiswhisperer, @researchwhisperer, @ECRchat, @NetworkedRes, @Write4Research
  8. Light entertainment@academicssay, @phdcomics

How to grow your Twitter feed

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’ (below their header image).

Retweets – people you follow will retweet things they think might be of interest. Keep an eye out for 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’.

Activity

So – go find some people to follow, and in spare moments during the day, watch the feed of tweets and information they’re sending. If you find any interesting people you think others should follow, let us know! To get started you could follow @CU_ReCap and @CovUniResearch

Heather (@HJSears)

Further reading

Twitter: Following FAQs

 

Day 2 of #CU10DoT: Sending Tweets

What to tweet?

Twitter only allows you to send 280 characters, which doesn’t seem much when we are used to writing at length about complex ideas. That doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial or only used to tweet about frivolous things. Many people, especially in a Higher Education 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 280 characters.

The tone of your professional twitter account needn’t be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. Even if tweeting on behalf of a service, you need to be engaging rather than formal, ‘passing on information’ rather than ‘making announcements’. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that tweets can be kept, even if you delete them (more on this on Day 9). As a rule of thumb, don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context!

If you’ll also be tweeting in an official capacity, think about the balance of your own announcements to other information – Twitter is still a conversation, not an announcement service, and too much one-way, impersonal promotion will turn off your following! The key document offering how to approach social media as a member of Coventry University is the Coventry University Social Media Policy [accessed 1 March 2018] , plus specific advice for researchers: Social Media for Research Promotion [accessed 1 March 2018]

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 come across
  • a workshop, lecture, 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 into your research 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 which you’ve just uploaded online
  • your thoughts on a 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 tweets

Sending a tweet via the Web is really easy:

  1. Sign in to your Twitter account.
  2. Type your Tweet into the box at the top of your Home timeline, or click the Tweet button in the top navigation bar.
  3. Make sure your update is fewer than 280 characters. Twitter counts the characters for you!
  4. Click the Tweet button to post the Tweet to your profile.
  5. You will immediately see your Tweet in the timeline on your homepage.

Read about posting Tweets via the Twitter for Android app and via the Twitter for iPhone or iPad app.

Remember – you’re only able to write 280 characters including spaces. Once you go over the limit, the small counter in the tweet box will start to count in minus numbers to highlight how many characters you need to delete. You’ll soon develop a suitably concise style, and learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.

Activity

That’s it! Today’s task is to get tweeting. You can start by posting this tweet (you can copy & paste if you want):

Joining in #CU10DoT with @HJSears

Try sending a few more tweets throughout the day. Your first tweets might be just simple messages to ease you in – what are you up to? What kind of event or activity might your intended followers find interesting, personable or quirky? You could let them know about an upcoming event, a thought about your research or teaching, or just show that you’re approachable and share common experiences. Don’t agonise over it though – Twitter is ephemeral in many ways!

Heather @HJSears

Further reading

Twitter: Posting a Tweet
Twitter: Deleting a Tweet
Social Media Today: 100 things to tweet about besides yourself

Day 1 of #CU10DoT: Creating and personalising your Twitter account

Welcome to Twitter, and to #CU10DoT!

We’re going to go over a whole host of things throughout this short course, stating with the basics. Take a look at the schedule to see what will be covered. 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! 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 e.g. @HJSears
  • 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

If you already have a Twitter account, jump to Personalising your profile and  More than one Twitter account? use today to refine your profile and think about  whether you could make good use of more than one Twitter account.

Create your Twitter account

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit https://twitter.com to set up an account.

  1. You’ll firstly need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up.
  2. On the next page, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) which will be your @name.

Tips for picking a username:  Your username is the name your followers use when sending @replies, mentions, and direct messages. It might be a 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. It will also form the URL of your Twitter profile page. Twitter will provide a few available suggestions when you sign up, but feel free to choose your own. Usernames must be fewer than 15 characters in length and cannot contain “admin” or “Twitter”, in order to avoid brand confusion. Avoid using numbers, hyphens and underscores as this will make it harder for people to be able to find you online. Please note: You can change your username in your account settings at any time, as long as the new username is not already in use.

3. On the ‘What are you interested in?’ page Twitter will suggest accounts for you to follow based on your interests. We are going to be covering following people on day 3, so you can opt to ‘skip this step’ for now if you wish. Twitter will suggest up to 40 accounts for you to follow based on your interests, if you decide to proceed.

4. The next stage is to ‘Customise your Profile’. Upload a profile picture  (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels). 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 your face, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers in real life at conferences!). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name, as long as it’s striking.

Tip! Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer!

5. The next step ‘Find the people you already know’ gives you the opportunity to connect with Twitter users who you already know. We recommend you ‘skip this step’ for now as we will be looking at following users in more detail on day 3.

6. Your account should now be set up. Twitter will send a confirmation email to the address you entered on sign up, make sure you click the link in that email to confirm your email address and account. Important information about your email address: An email address can only be associated with one Twitter account at a time. The email address you use on your Twitter account is not publicly visible to others on Twitter.

Personalising your profile

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. To do this click on your profile picture, this will take you to your profile page. On the profile page you should be able to see an ‘Edit Profile’ button. Click it to update your profile.

  • Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’.
  • Add a location (this could also be an institution). Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university you are affiliated with.
  • Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. You can have only one, so perhaps your university webpage, if you have one, would be most appropriate here. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
  • 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 or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. It tells potential contacts nothing about why they might want to follow you and 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.
  • Add a header photo. This will appear at the top of your profile page and acts as cover photo for you Twitter account. The recommended dimensions for Twitter header picture are 1500×1500 pixels. Make the job of sizing and/or designing your header using an on-line service. Last week I was sent a graphic by marketing – I used Canva to resize and add a background to create a new header for @HJSears.

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.

More than one Twitter account?

You can create more Twitter accounts each linked to a different email address – you are not limited to single real life identities like Facebook or LinkedIn. These might be for other facets of your online life, such as personal contacts, for public engagement rather than networking with other researchers, or for representing a research group or event such as a conference. It’s best not to mix audiences too much – 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. For example, I’m @HJSears for professional conversations and @Aornis for personal contacts. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Activity

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 really keen, you might follow me @HJSears 

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! Tomorrow we’ll be looking at ‘what to tweet’… Heather