Five Ways to get better at Twitter {even when you don’t really like it!}

Five Ways To Get Better At Twitter

There. I’ve said it.  I really don’t like Twitter. I’ve tried to like it, but I don’t think it will ever be my favorite social media platform. On social media  I respond well to two things: pictures and the written word.  Twitter cuts me short in both areas: there are limited pictures and limited (like 140 characters limited!) words.  I like longer sentences.  (Let’s blame my highschool english teacher who loved long flowery sentences and gave us bonus points when we included them in our essays.) Even more, I love images.  I buy into the “a picture is worth a thousand words” motto 100%.     My favorite social media platforms are Pinterest (lots of pictures) blogs (lots of words) and Facebook (a decent blend of both). Plus,  Twitter is just not intuitive to me. You’ve got hashtags, retweets vs. replies, tagging people with the @symbol- its just a bunch of stuff to figure out, and I’ve already got too much stuff in my “to learn this summer” pile!

But alas, I’ve been forced to come to terms with the fact that, like it or not, I need Twitter.  Twitter is where the people that I need to learn from hang out.

Teachers on Twitter:

There are a lot of teachers sharing really good stuff on twitter.  A lot.  So many in fact, that this past week when thousands of teachers were attending the ISTE (International Society for Techology in Education) conference in Atlanta, the official hashtag for that conference #ISTE2014 and a couple of non-official hashtags #notatISTE2014 & #AshleyJudd (the keynote speaker)  were the top trending hashtags for all of Twitter.  Teachers were impacting the entire Twitter community with the knowledge that they were sharing from that conference. Even though I was part of the #notatISTE2014 crowd, I still learned a ton, just by following all of the tweets that came through both my feed and the #ISTE2014 feed.  To ignore all of that shared knowledge is to miss out on so much potential learning.

Bloggers on Twitter:

A fair amount of my website traffic actually comes from Twitter.  I share my work from this website on Twitter and I’ve been honored to have other people share my work there too. Truthfully though, I need to get better at the way I share my work. There are etiquette rules for Twitter and I only know some of them. I need to learn how to follow the unwritten rules that exist on Twitter. I need to have good Twitter manners.

Programmers on Twitter:

This is what pushed me over the edge.  I shared recently that I’m trying to learn to program.  I’ve started classes and started connecting with other programmers in my community.  Guess where they hang out? Yep, Twitter! Programmers are on Twitter sharing the same types of information as teachers: articles, resources and learning tools.  Yes I could learn to program without Twitter, but it would be more challenging.  I’ve already discovered countless resources that have helped me over the last month, just because I’ve been trying to hang out on Twitter.  And that brings me to my first point.

Five ways to get better at Twitter {even when you don’t really like it!}

 1. Spend time reading your Twitter feed (even if it’s not as much fun as Pinterest!)

When I decided that I needed to get better at Twitter, I knew I needed to start spending more time there.  One of the reasons why Facebook makes sense to me is because I spend time there regularly.  I watch how people act on Facebook.  I see what they share and how they share it. I know what kind of behavior on Facebook is annoying or spam-ish because I spend a little time there most days.  So I’ve made an effort over the last month to spend a little bit of time on Twitter each day.  I put a little reminder in my brain to take a quick peek at Twitter each time I visit Facebook.  I’ll be honest, it’s been a little bit like a discipline.  I haven’t always enjoyed my Twitter time, but I have gotten better at understanding the # @ rt symbols that looked like gibberish to me in the beginning.  Because I find all of those symbols so annoying,  I do tend to skim over them unless I’ve found a tweet that really looks interesting.

2. Follow some Twitter Rockstars

There are some teachers (and organizations) doing amazing things with Twitter.  They’re sharing cool, interesting teaching ideas. Pick a few to follow. Watch how they behave on Twitter. And also, read the stuff they post. Click on the links that they share. I’ve discovered some really neat stuff this way.  Here are a few early childhood and/or edtech rockstars that I follow and have learned from.

Karen Nameth @KarenNamethEdM

Steven W. Anderson  @web20Classroom

Vicky Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher  @coolcatteacher

Sue Gorman  @sjgorman

We Are Teachers @WeAreTeachers


3. Notice how Twitter rockstars are sharing their work, other people’s work, (and if you’re lucky, your own!)

I feel fortunate that some Twitter rockstars have shared my work on Twitter, and they always do it better than I did originally! Because I’ve paid attention to how they share, I’ve learned a few things:

  • My twitter posts are often too long (big shock to this long-winded writer! :)  )
  • I’m not always using the best (if any!) hashtags
  • It’s nice to acknowledge someone who shares your work on Twitter by replying & tagging them in your reply.
  • If you like someone’s Twitter post, it’s nice to Retweet [RT or share]  it.

4. Read a few Twitter tutorials

Now truthfully, one of the reasons Twitter drives me so crazy is because I’ve read a zillion “guides to Twitter” and still don’t feel like I’ve got the system down.  But,  I have learned a thing here or there from some of the tutorials I’ve read.  Here are a few that I thought were particularly useful.

Twitter for Beginners, by Mashable

Edudemic: How and Why Teachers are Using Twitter

Twenty Twitter Rules You Need to Know


5. Learn some interesting hashtags

This is something I’ve seen on almost every Twitter tutorial I’ve read but it was so hard to put into practice.  (Still is, really.) The thing to know is that hashtags organize the content on twitter. If one of those Twitter Rockstars you follow uses a hashtag, try plugging that hashtag into the search bar at the top of Twitter.  See if it pulls up content that’s interesting to you. If it is, it might be worth searching with that hashtag every so often when you’re looking for information on a particular topic.

Now I think what made hashtags hard for me was the fact that I joined the Twitter party a little late, after the hashtag had morphed into a bit of a joke. So some hashtags, like #ISTE2014,  #edtech, #iPadEd or #ece actually pull up interesting, professional content. Others, like, #ihatebroccoli or  #brusselsproutsrock tend to be making more of a statement than actually providing a way to search for content. Following the advice in point number 1, and spending time on Twitter,  will make it easier for you to learn to tell the difference.

Closing Thoughts

So there you have the 5 things I’ve been doing this summer to try to get better at Twitter. It is working.  I feel more comfortable on Twitter than I ever have, but I still don’t think it will ever be my favorite social media platform. I need my pictures and words! Really I think a lot of us early childhood educators respond best to those pictures and words.  There are tons and tons of preschool and kindergarten teachers on Pinterest and Facebook. There are only a few (in comparison) on Twitter.  It actually makes me wish that some of the educational technology leaders that are on Twitter would try to get a little better at Pinterest. I have uncovered some great early childhood-applicable resources and articles from Ed Tech leaders on Twitter, but often, the articles I find don’t even have a Pinnable image so I can’t share them where most of the early childhood people are: Pinterest.  Just one picture in a blog post makes the article pinnable.  I would love to see the Early Childhood and Educational Technology worlds overlap just a bit more. Hopefully this post will help a few ECE people find their way onto Twitter, and maybe entice a few more EdTech folk to check out Pinterest too. Are you on Twitter? Do you enjoy your time there? I’m trying to get better at retweeting the good early childhood & ed tech stuff I find over there.   Follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you back! @MrsNelsonCWA

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  1. says

    I am in your boat somewhat. I don’t find too many teachers there but I also write children’s books and there are a ton of authors there (although most of them are YA or higher). I appreciate your tips since Twitter seems difficult to navigate for me.
    ~Lucy at

    • says

      Yes, I find it interesting all the little subcultures one can discover on twitter. And I think it’s interesting which subcultures aren’t on twitter too. I should try following some authors on twitter. It might liven it up a bit for me. :)

      • says

        If you’re looking for people/groups to follow, try @shanselman (programmer and funny family guy), @edutopia (Lucas Foundation’s education site), @edtechseattle (exactly what it sounds like ;) ) and @CodeNewbies. The latter runs a Twitter chat on a Wednesday nights at 6pm PST, if you’re looking to stretch your hash tag mojo :D.

        Love, love, love your site, by the way!!

  2. says

    Meant every word! I really have learned a ton by how you pretty up my tweets after I tweet them! Love it! I’m so grateful for educators like you that have paved the way for me on twitter!