Twitter tips for nervous newbies

I’ve been thinking a lot about Twitter this week and the profound impact that it has had on my professional learning and teaching practice. I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again: joining Twitter was the single best decision that I have made in my career. Yes, even above blogging and moving to Hong Kong. I make no apology for banging on about it. This time, my blog post was prompted by an article from The Wall Street Journal.

A 2014 report by The Wall Street Journal shared findings from a Twopcharts study. They claim that 44% of people who sign up to Twitter never send a single tweet. This disappointing number doesn’t even include the users who have posted once or twice but quickly gave up on it. I’m not sure how reliable that number is or how it has changed since 2014, but it does reflect my own experience, sadly. Many teachers sign up with great intentions but their accounts never get off the ground. Why is this? Of course, some people realise that it just isn’t for them. That’s fine. But I suspect the 44% is largely due to the overwhelming nature of the platform. Too many teachers are missing out!

Twitter is confusing. I get that. It’s somewhat different from other social media platforms and comes with its own jargon. It takes a while to get used to. I understand that many new users are unsure how to use the platform and, especially teachers, are unsure what to share. It’s also quite common for teachers to overthink the wording of their tweets. Thankfully, there are ways to keep your account active with minimal effort and, in some cases, without even typing anything.

Here are my top tips on how to keep your account active while you’re still in the period of uncertainty and learning the ropes:

  • Retweet

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It takes only two clicks to share great content with your followers. Simply click the retweet icon at the bottom of any tweet and then click ‘Retweet’ (the other option, ‘Retweet with comment’, is explained below). Retweets will share the content with your followers (the original tweeter will be thrilled) and will also display it on your profile. Your curating and sharing on Twitter can start without you typing a single word.


  • Retweet with comment

A ‘Retweet with comment’ is the same as a retweet but allows you to type a short message to go along with the original tweet. In the example above, Ryan has retweeted my tweet but added his own thoughts (thanks, Ryan). Again, these will appear on your profile.


  • Share from websites

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This tip offers another way for you to share great content without needing to overthink the wording of your tweet. When you find a web page that you’d like to share with your followers on Twitter, simply look around the page to find the sharing icons (usually at the bottom). Clicking the Twitter icon will open a new window with the tweet already prepared for you. The automatic tweet will even mention the author/company (as long as they have set this up). You can edit it but you don’t have to. Simply click ‘Tweet’ when you’re happy with it. Another two-click tweet!


  • Reply to others

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Even when you’re lurking and still figuring things out, I encourage you to reply to others, engage in conversations and start building relationships. Replies do not appear on your main profile page so you can worry less about them being perfect (you don’t have to worry anyway). Instead, your replies are found under the ‘Tweets & replies’ tab.


  • Join the #12DaysTwitter challenge

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The #12DaysTwitter challenge was originally created by Mickie Mueller but has since been adapted and tweaked by others. The challenge involves tweeting daily for the next twelve working days, starting tomorrow (Monday 2nd December 2019), following the prompts that are shown in the document. You can ignore #VSAHKG. That’s my school’s hashtag. Feel free to make a copy of the document and replace it with your own hashtag, or just ignore it. The other hashtag is more important anyway. Including #12DaysTwitter will group your tweets with everyone else’s #12DaysTwitter tweets from around the world. This challenge will help you to familiarise yourself with the platform and connect with many other educators. There is no better time to activate your account!

What other tips do you have for those who are confused and overwhelmed by Twitter? Please share in the comment section below. For newbies, I hope that these tips are helpful. Even before you get fully comfortable with the platform, keep using these methods to share and feel free to lurk around everyone else’s profiles. You’ll soon get the hang of it. Reach out to me if I can help in any way.

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