Want to know what I’ve learned in over a year of using Twitter? Too much to even comprehend. There is nonstop information from Twitter. And you know I’m versed in the subject from my multiple posts and presentations on the matter. I love Twitter and I am especially active during the school year. I communicate with committees on Twitter and I even co-run the monthly #ArtsEdChat (even when it’s unsuccessful-join us!).
But what do people fail to mention about Twitter? A lot. And what to users either choose to ignore or perhaps, not realize? A lot. So this is my step in making sure you know some of the things I’ve learned before you have to learn them the hard way. An keep in mind, this comes from an educator looking to network…not someone who wants fame and glory via Twitter.
1. It’s not about your followers. Seriously. If you are an educator on Facebook, then you will eventually gain followers but that is a number you shouldn’t be concerned about right away. A concept circa 2004, thanks to Facebook, that haunts us is that it’s all about how many friends we have or followers…in fact it could even date back further to MySpace, heck even HotorNot (no, I never used-ha!). It’s unfortunate, because while followers are nice (it means you’re sharing valuable information) – you should be worrying more about who you are following. If you are on Twitter, you should be getting the best information and you can only do that if you pay more attention to who you find more valuable as a resource. As you begin to digest and share that information, you yourself will become more valuable as a resource and then you will see that “follower” number change. Really, if you think about it – your students are the ones who are more concerned with followers…are you a student or are you a resource?
2. Tweeting excessively does not necessarily make you valuable. There are people I follow that tweet over 100 times a day. And they are extensive resources that I still don’t catch up on because they seriously have so much going on. I follow them because once in a while, I catch a GREAT resource from them and that makes their 100 tweets a day worth it. That said, just because they successfully tweet that much, doesn’t mean you should tweet every 10 minutes. In fact, for many Twitter users, useless tweets warrant an “unfollow”. Make sure the information you share is valuable, at least to you so that others can see what you value and you can begin to connect with like-minded people.
3. Professional shouldn’t be Personal. We are all guilty of blurring the lines…but if you have a Twitter account for school or education, it’s best that it stays that way. Follow whomever you want but if, for even one tweet, you connect it to your professional life then those followers and following will connect the dots. Lines become blurrier and your professionalism goes down. I have seen people destroyed by their lack of understanding that the two should be kept separate.
Plenty of people agree with me – I know this because I’ve had the conversations with them a million times. Others may disagree but coming from an educator (not a consultant or a big wig), using Twitter as a resource is a valuable tool – unfortunately, it’s a useless one when you aren’t sure what you’re doing. See here and here for more information regarding the basics of Twitter.