Love is in the air, and I want you to fall in love with Twitter!
I saw that. I could see that eye roll. And I heard the deep sigh. And I know the excuses.
I heard it again just last week from a principal in Wisconsin. She understands Facebook and even Instagram, but she just can’t jump into Twitter with both feet. There are only so many hours in a day and a busy educator has to pick where they want to play on the social media playground.
The first step to falling in love with this social media platform is to transform the way we think about Twitter. My social media guru gal pal @TenaPettis puts it this way, “Change your mindset around Twitter. Treat this social tool like your connection to the world versus just another thing to add to your to-do list.”
After talking to several educators about why they love Twitter, I think Joelle Doye (@Rockshot_Joelle), Mineral Point Communications Director said it best. “I would say one of the HUGE benefits for me is it makes me feel less isolated. I would think that would be true for any singletons in schools. If there’s no one else doing your same job you can collaborate with, you can feel alone. Twitter opens up a whole new world of colleagues.”
Connecting to other educators with similar passions, goals and challenges has never been easier. But many of you get intimidated before you even start. The lingo itself is overwhelming. You may feel like you’ll never figure it out and you don’t want to try now.
Well, in an effort to take baby steps, here are my seven steps to get you started:
1. Set up an account – Twitter makes it easy to set up a profile on your smart phone or desktop unit. Don’t stress out about your username (the letters following the @ symbol). You can change it later. I recommend using your name without reference to your school or position, as those things can change. But again, don’t stress too much because you can always change it. You are limited to only 15 characters.
2. Add your profile picture – Make sure people know who you are by cracking that egg and adding your photograph. Remember that the photo is relatively small when it appears in the twitter feed. You want it to be a fairly close-up photo of you (and not your entire family).
3. Come up with a bio that helps explain who you are – The best way to grab other followers is to offer an explanation of who you are in your bio. It’s short – just a 160 character limit. Here is a nice example: @Laura_Jennaro – Mother of two amazing kids and wife of the love of my life. Principal of Milton Middle School // Challenger of the status quo // #oneredhawk #miltonsuperheroes
4. Follow other educators – Last summer I shared 14 educators worth following on Twitter. I would strongly recommend following those people. The ever-connected @JoeSanfelippoFC also has a growing list of Wisconsin Superintendents at this link. Of course you can follow your favorite TV show or sports star as well, but it’s important to get connected with people like you. You’ll learn so much just by watching them.
5. Listen first – It’s easy to tap into conversations on specific topics by following hashtags. I enjoy connecting with other people who are in the social media/marketing roles for schools. I found that #SchoolPR and #K12prchat are great hashtags for me to search when I want to listen in. The most recent tweets including those hashtags will show at the top of your search and will include people you follow as well as those that you don’t. This means it will be easy to connect with others who are interested in the same things you are, and you can choose to follow more people.
6. Try to tweet just once per day – You will not learn to love Twitter if you fail to use it. The best way to learn is to jump in and make it part of your routine. Snapping a photo each day of something happening at your school with just a basic explanation is a great start. Include your school hashtag to help get the story out to more Twitter users in your community. Remember, you only have 140 characters so the platform forces you to be brief! High School Principal @SchaapWendell just started using Twitter consistently two weeks ago. He’s from Calvin Christian School and is doing a great job of posting once a day.
7. Tune in to a Twitter chat – This can be a little overwhelming the first time, so here is a brief video to show you how. It’s basically a live conversation that happens through tweets instead of actual conversation. There are questions provided by a leader of the chat and you respond to them by including the chat hashtag. Want to know when the chats happen? Grab a schedule here.
If you are an educator who loves Twitter, let us know below by sharing your handle!