Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twitter Is More Than Just Status Updates

For the first part of my series, I am beginning with the social media tool that I use the most for both personal use and as a way to find resources for my teaching and that tool is Twitter. There are over 50 million tweets sent per day. Some of these are just "noise" with simple status' not adding to conversations, where others have links to news articles, blogs, videos and more that add content to posts. There are even users having conversations while sending tweets back and forth.

I will clarify one thing, I am not an expert on Twitter or any of the other tools. I have just found a way to make them work for me and that is what you need to do.  You do not need to become an expert in order to use them. Just find what works for you and build from there. If you are a beginning user or still apprehensive about signing up, then read on, this post is definitely for you.

1) Using and Following Hashtags - This is one of the easiest and can be one of the most useful ways to follow certain tweets. Hashtags are one way to make Twitter fun and unique since you can make any word/phrase a hashtag. Following hashtags can also be an easy way to easy way to find specific information and users for areas of interest ranging from special events, people or subjects.  Hashtags are also how users conduct Twitter chats.

*Prefacing a word/phrase/acronym with '#' will create a hashtag (#AgChat, #farm).

You can even get some stats on a hashtag that has been tweeted to see how many Twitter users it has reached and how it has been used. We will use #Agblog as an example - Check out TweetReach.

2) Participating in Twitter Chats - As mentioned above, by following certain hashtags users can conduct chats through Twitter posts.  This is one of the best methods to building relationships with other users with a common interest.  There are many many chats every week that you can participate in or just view.  Some of the chats that I participate in are: #Agchat, #edchat, #blogchat and I even created one, #AgEduChat, with Amanda Sollman.

Here is a Google Doc Spreadsheet to a large compiled list of Twitter chats with day/time/moderator(s).

It may seem like a lot at first to take time out of our day to participate in these chats, but if you have a desire to: network and make connections with others, advocate for something that is important to you, gain new knowledge about a certain subject matter, or just to have fun and socialize with others then participating in chats is for you.  For the chats that I have participated in, I know I have had a lot of fun and have learned a lot from others. I have also built a network of connections from all over the world. The following are a couple websites that are how most users view and participate in chats using #agchat and #ageduchat as examples.

TweetChat - Example- #Agchat
Twubs - Example - #AgEduChat

Lastly 3) Using Third-party Software Applications- These applications make following tweets SO MUCH easier. TweetDeck is the application I have used from the start and will keep using.  With most of these applications you can combine multiple social media channels other than just Twitter. You can link your accounts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Buzz, and Foursquare.  This allows you to post to those different accounts all at the same time.

TweetDeck is set-up with columns for what you want to view. I have set my columns to follow certain Twitter lists, hashtags and people/businesses. This enables you to follow tweets more closely and interact with others easier. Below is an example from a screen shot I took.

One thing I am working on is working Twitter into some of my classroom lessons.  I have a couple students who are on Twitter currently so we are thinking up some ways to incorporate it.  However, there are many teachers who have been using Twitter in some very neat and effective methods. Below are some articles I have found through some tweets on #edtech and #edchat.

Stay tuned for more information on SM tools. Feel free to leave questions or comments and I'll get back to you, or follow me @DrewBender

*Sunday 1/23 Join us for #AgEduChat 7-8:30 EST, we are discussing technology use and tools in the classroom.

Post written by Drew Bender

1 comment:

  1. Good post Drew! I have a blog post on chat sessions that may be helpful to some folks too. You can find it here