Twitter has become one of the hottest Web 2.0 apps of 2009, but what can it really do for you and how can it help you and your with your personal development and your blog?
Well Twitter serves two main purposes and these are in simple terms:
- Information in - getting information from many sources coming to you in one place
- Information out - broadcasting your own information to many sources
Information inTwitter is a really powerful way to get very up to date information from Twitter users all around the globe. To do this just involves tracking down who the best sources of information are and subscribing / following them.
This will help you stay informed about what’s happening in your field and could also give you some relevant topics, tools and resources to write about on your own blog. Once you have a network you can also get help from them when you need it and send out questions about where to find help or resources.
Here are some tips for finding good people to follow:
- Start with the big names in your professional field. When you follow these you will also be able to see who they are following and who is following them. Personally, I usually ignore the people following them and go straight to explore the people they follow. Most people will allow anyone to follow them, but are much more discerning about who they follow, so this is a ready made endorsement that you can rely on.
- Before you follow someone, check out the information they are broadcasting and see if there is anything useful there. For me useful usually means links to resources or information. I’m not really interested in finding out what people have for breakfast or which airport they are sitting in.
- Another useful way to find people to follow is to check out the various Twitter directories and look for people in your field.
- Here are useful possible sources:
ELTweet: http://www.eltweet.com A directory of ELT related Tweeters
TwitR: http://twitr.org A general directory of Twitter users that you can search.
Directory of Learning Professionals: http://c4lpt.co.uk/socialmedia/edutwitter.html A directory of learning professionals from both education and corporate training.
- Here are some ELT and EdTech names that are worth checking out to see who they follow:
Jeremy Harmer: http://twitter.com/Harmerj
Scott Thornbury: http://twitter.com/thornburyscott
Gavin Dudeney: http://twitter.com/dudeneyge
Larry Ferlazzo: http://twitter.com/Larryferlazzo
Information outTwitter can also be a very useful tool to broadcast information to promote your blog. You can post messages whenever you create new blog postings or whenever you see something interesting that you would like to share with fellow professionals in your field.
Information out is little more complex though, because to broadcast your information you first need to build your network and that means getting people to subscribe to / follow you.
Here are some tips for how to build your network and get people following you.
- One key thing, before you attempt to get people following you is to start actually posting some tweets. This sounds a bit strange as you will be posting information with nobody following it, but one of the keys to getting people to follow you is the quality of the information you are broadcasting. If your tweet page is blank, then people are unlikely to want to follow you.
- Be sure you set up your Twitter profile with a link to your blog or website, so that users can see who you are, what you are interested in and what kind of information they are likely to get if they follow you. Again, you should do this before you sart trying to build up followers.
- Get a Twitter widget plugged into your blog or website. This will enable anyone who comes to your site and likes what they see there to follow you directly from your site.
- Following other people who are in your field can be a good way to get them to check out your tweets and your profile and if they like what they see they may well decide to follow you.
- Think about the name you use for your Twitter account. I use my real name, but you could use the name of your company, school or blog. Using a common name across all your social networking activities establishes it as a kind of ‘brand’ and helps you to build reputation on that name. Using funny, witty, foolish or anonymous type names that don't identify you as a real person with genuine professional interests are likely to put off some potential followers.
- There are a number of directories that you can apply to or register yourself on. Being on these registries can help people in your field find you and follow you. These were mentioned above but here they are again.
ELTweet A directory of ELT related Tweeters
TwitR A general directory of Twitter users that you can search.
Directory of Learning Professionals A directory of learning professionals from both education and corporate training.
These basic tips should help you to get your network started and growing. Your Twitter network can be a very powerful tool and if you use it correctly it will continue to grow. Be sure to respect the people following you. Post information that you value, re-tweet information that you find useful there and be part of the community. Read people’s messages, try to respond in a helpful way when you can and give something to the network you create.
How about you?
- What's your approach to building your network?
- Do you let anyone follow you or are you selective?
- Who do you enjoy following?
- Have you added your Twitter profile to any registers?
- Anything you can add to these tips?
- 25 Twitter apps for exploiting your network
- Microblogging for EFL with Plurk
- When Twitter isn't enough
© Nik Peachey