Helping newbies

According to my Twitter page, I joined the social sharing network in 2007.

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I was probably in some summer institute at the time.  One of the first people that I do remember interacting with was Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) who was a big advocate for learning and social networking.

So, I created the account, now what?  As we know, Twitter is essentially nothing until you follow people.  It would seem intuitive that you could just post a Twitter message asking for advice but it really doesn’t work well that way.  In order for someone to reply to you, they need to know that you exist!

Fortunately, at the time, Twitter was kind of new and there were lots of blog posts about who to follow in Twitter so I started adding names from these recommendations.  I was off.

I do recall that the names that I followed were kind of interesting but not necessarily in an Ontario or Canadian way.  Either I wasn’t following the right people or the right people weren’t on the network.  So, I plugged along with the ones that I did follow and kept looking for more.

It was a home thing for me in the beginning.  Twitter and all social networks were blocked at work.  I did go to work on that and had that removed.  It’s great to see so many educators from my district now online.

Fast forward to today.  My, things have changed.  There are so many people online now.  The challenge remains, though, to make some sense of relevancy to it.  People use the service for a variety of reasons; you just have to find the ones that are of value to you.  If you’re serious about this, it’s not just about finding folks that agree with you.  There can be great value in finding someone who has a different perspective.  You can influence them or they can influence you.

So, this week, Derek Rhodenizer put out this challenge.

I used the opportunity to share a “new to Twitter” person.

So, the ball is in that new person’s court.

But everyone is busy.  Is picking up Twitter something else to do on an overcrowded teaching load?  In my opinion, the newbie (and we all were at one time) needs immediate success to validate that the time and effort is going to be worthwhile.

Some suggestions that come to my mind…

  • Use the Twitter search or advanced search to look for a resource to support a passion or a topic that will be taught in class.  The advantage that Twitter has is its immediacy of results
  • Look to Friday Twitter messages tagged with #FF or #FollowFriday.  Once you’ve mastered search in Twitter, then things like this become second nature
  • Search for a hashtag.  # isn’t pound anymore!  Any organization or project worth their salt will have a hashtag that they’re using.  You’ll just have to find it!
  • Look to the Trends on your landing page to see what’s popular in your area.  Click to dig deeper and find people that are talking about things you’re interested in
  • Search for your school name, district name, principal’s name, etc. to zero in on things local to you

How about those blog posts of “people to follow”?  They had value in its time but those posts are still active.  The people, though, may no longer be active.  There’s no success when you find dormant accounts.

That’s the consumer side.  That lets you find people to follow.  How do you get people to follow you?  That’s simple!

  • Be interesting.  That’s really all that’s needed.  Get involved with those names that you’ve identified above.  Contribute back ideas, ask questions, share resources, offer your opinion, etc.  It doesn’t take long before people get curious about you and want to follow you back.  Having a descriptive Twitter profile makes all the difference.  Nobody will follow a ghost

The key to helping the new user is to give them immediate success.  There are lots of ways to do it.

My suggestions appear above.  What can you add to the list?

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One thought on “Helping newbies

  1. Looks like you were three months ahead of me. Like you I joined during a workshop. I’d known about twitter for a while but I really didn’t understand it. 11 years later I think I do. Sort of. It’s a moving target.

    These days I find people to follow a couple of ways:
    I always look up speakers at PD events or conferences.
    Twitter chats are a great source as well. Someone makes a good comment and I see if I am following them or not.
    And there are still blog posts but only if they are recent. People disappear.

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