When I first started using twitter, I used it purely as a social outlet. I kept up with all of my favorite celebrities, watching their every move, chatting with my friends, and participating in trending topics while watching my favorite reality show. It's also a great way to build relationships.
Twitter has changed so much from the "What are you doing now" tag line to becoming one of the largest Personal Professional Learning Networks available to educators. I have participated in numerous hours of professional development, and graduate courses, but I have learned more from my twitter friends then all of those things put together.
I had an interesting conversation with some educators about the purpose and use of twitter. That saw little value in using twitter, and thought of it as just another social media to take up their time. I love to share all of the things I am learning on twitter, but often times I get that puzzled look from because they have a hard time understanding the twitter lingo, and have a difficult time seeing it as Professional Development. It is really a mind-shift, and it takes a little bit of work understanding it all.
So I will break down twitter as simple as possible
What is twitter?
Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as "tweets".
Think of twitter as a "chat room" you are having a conversation with people of like-minds sharing their ideas and great resources. Its a place to share ideas, and get ideas. (Sometimes you are even just chatting with yourself)
Imagine a room full of people who all have something to share. One person stands up and says "Hey, I found this great article on differentiation", another person says I found a great resource for 3rd grade students struggling with reading" another person jumps in and says "Please share, I have been looking for strategies to help my students with reading." All of these individuals can communicate and share with one another easily through twitter, and the beauty of it all is that they don't have to be in the same room, they can be in different parts of the world.
Getting Started with Twitter
Create a unique twitter name that represents you. Keep in mind your audience, and who your followers will be, and who you might follow. You also want to make sure you don't have a long twitter name, because when people respond or retweet you, your twitter name counts as part of the 140 characters.
Other things to keep in mind:
Always upload a picture to twitter. The infamous egg screams newbie, or I'm just not that into twitter.
Also, complete your profile. Give a really nice description of who you are, or what your purpose is on twitter. This is extremely helpful when you are looking for followers. Reading their profile descriptions is a great way to weed through potential twitter friends.
When you post to twitter, you are "tweeting" you send a "tweet". You only have 140 characters to post in your tweet, so you try to come up with clever and innovative ways to get your point across. Some people use twitter to share information, some use twitter to retrieve information. Some people post articles, some post quotes, and pictures. It can be whatever you want it to be.
How to communicate on twitter
When you send a tweet out on twitter. Your followers can
Respond to your tweet by @username , or Retweeting (RT) the message, continuing the conversation by sending out another tweet, or they combine all of the above.
@ symbol is what you use when you are referring to another twitter user. (mention) For instance @msedtechie means you are sending @msedtechie a message, or mentioning them in your tweet.
Reply - This is when you respond to a tweet from a particular user. The @username is placed in front of the tweet. For instance if you wanted to send a message to me you would tweet "Hey @msedtechie, do you have any websites for 1st grade math?"
Direct Message (DM) This is a private message sent through a discussion board. You can only send a DM to a person that is following you.
Follower- Unlike facebook, twitter relationships are not required to be reciprocal. You can follow someone on twitter, but they don't have to follow you back. Twitter allows you to have one-way relationships. Most of the time when you find a twitter user that has very interesting posts, and you interact with them, they usually will follow you back. When a person follows you, your tweets show up on their timeline for them to read. If you follow them back, their messages appear on your timeline.
Hashtags #- is used when people are tweeting about the same topic or are attending the same event. An acronym or words/phrases are prefaced with the # symbol. Example at the ISTE conference this year, conference attendees were asked to tweet during the event using the hashtag #iste2014, this way all of the attendees, regardless if they are following each other can all participate in the same conversation and be connected. A lot of trending topics show up on your feed on twitter based on your location, or usually what's going on in the world. Prime example during the 2012 political debates #presidentialdebate2012 was trending all around the world.
View my Twitter presentation here
In all, twitter can be whatever you make it.
A great resource to learn more about Twitter