Day 4 of #WBK10DoT: Sending @messages

You’ve sent some tweets, followed people and hopefully gained some followers of your own. Some people prefer to listen more than they tweet, which is fine – the only thing to consider is, the more you say about your interests and interact with others, the more people will know what kind of information might be useful to you, and direct relevant things your way. It’s a way of fine-tuning your Twitter feed as well as providing useful information to others.

Sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone – it will be visible to other followers, but you want to catch a particular person’s attention with it. This might be because:

  • you are replying to or responding to one of their tweets
  • you are asking them a question
  • because you think they might be particularly interested in the information passed on in your tweet and want to make sure it catches their eye
  • you mention them in a tweet and want them to know, for example, if you retweet one of their tweets, or are talking about their work

It may also be that you don’t follow that person, or they don’t follow you, but you still want to catch their attention with one particular tweet: they will still see it if you include their @username

For example:

To call someone’s attention to a tweet with an @ mention, you use their username or ‘handle’ preceded by a @ sign. For example, to let me know you’ve mentioned me, you would include ‘@cinigabellini’ in the tweet. If you click the ‘reply’ option which appears in grey in each tweet, Twitter will automatically insert the person’s @name into your tweet (we’ll look at the other options that appear in each tweet later!)

Day 4 sending @messages

Note – as the @ sign is reserved for marking people’s handles, you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at’, for example, ‘let’s meet @6pm @cafe’ – it will treat these as an @message, and it’s likely that someone, somewhere, will have chosen @6pm or @cafe as a handle!

A small but important point is where you place the @username. If you are responding to a tweet, using the ‘reply’ button, then Twitter will automatically begin your tweet response with the @username, and you can then type the rest of your message. As a standard, tweets beginning with  someone’s @username, are only visible to your followers, this may be useful when you don’t want a wide audience to see the interactions, if it’s not going to be understandable out of context, or of interest to them but just cluttering up their feed. If you want the tweet to have a wider audience, then you could include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence, for example: ‘reading @ZentrumLL’s blog post about Twitter – some useful tips!’

Remember that Twitter is a very public medium, and whether you @message someone or not, your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile.

To see @messages directed at you, click on the tab marked Notifications with the bell icon, at the top of the screen.

16-03 - Day 04-02They will also appear in your Twitter stream, but you may miss them there! Depending on your settings, you can also receive an email when someone @messages you. To set your account to email you when someone mentions you, click on Settings (accessed via your Profile Picture at the top) and then ‘Email Notifications’ in the left hand menu. You may wish to edit the Email Notifications anyway as the default settings may include things you don’t want or need.

Direct Messages

If you really want to send a message to just one person, but don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, Twitter allows you to send them a DM or Direct Message, but only if that person follows you. Direct Messages on Twitter operate in the same way as other direct messaging systems, such as Facebook Messenger, for instance.

If you want to practice sending a Direct Message, feel free to contact me! If I’ve accidentally omitted to follow you, let me know!

Activity for Day 4:
So – send some @messages to people you follow – ask them a question, draw their attention to something, comment on something they’ve tweeted! Reply to anyone who messages you, to be polite, if they appear genuine and professional. And remember to send me (@cinigabellini) an @message to tell me how it’s going. Remember to add the hastag #WBK10DoT to your tweet messages.

Enjoy the conversations.

Day 3 of #WBK10DoT: Following people

You’ve sent your first tweets, creating interesting and engaging content for your potential followers. The other side to Twitter, of course, is the stream of information brought to you by the people you follow. And if you follow people, chances are they will take a look at your profile and decide to follow you in return (which is why setting up a profile with some engaging tweets first was important!).

About following

One of the key features of Twitter is that unlike other platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, following is not necessarily reciprocal – the people you follow may not be the people who follow you (although they might be!). There is no obligation to follow someone just because they follow you. Some people have a more-or-less even match of followers and following; others follow lots of people but don’t tweet much themselves and therefore don’t have many followers; and some tweeters, usually very well-known people or institutions, may have a large number of followers as they tweet a lot but don’t actually follow as many people, using Twitter more as a broadcast medium to get their message out there.

As an individual professional, you’re probably going to get the most benefit in the first instance for the first option, having roughly the same number of followers and following. Twitter works best as a dialogue, and this won’t happen if you’re doing all the talking, or have no one to talk to!

To follow someone, simply click on their profile (their name or picture) and click the ‘Follow’ button below their details:

Day3 - Follow

How do you find people to follow?

When you first sign up to Twitter, it will suggest people for you to follow, or invite you to search for names or keywords, but this can be a bit hit and miss. Some people give up at this point, thinking that it’s all pop stars and people tweeting about their breakfast!

At this point, it might be useful to know who else is participating in the #WBK10DoT programme, so I’ve compiled a list of everyone who sent the tweet I suggested yesterday, so you can find and follow each other!

Here are eight more suggestions to build a useful feed of information that might work well for you as an (e-)learning developer:

  1. ‘Celebrity’ academics and media dons Following well-known people and commentators in academia will give you some ideas of how to build your profile and impact, as well as offering commentary on education policy, news on developments in Adult and Professional Education, access to their own network of followers and interesting material to retweet to your followers. You could follow adult education researchers Michael Kerres orMathias Rohs who tweet about digital education, Jürg Arpagaus, Prorektor Weiterbildung PHLU or Jane Hart, learning advisor in the field of workplace learning.
  2. Professional Bodies For updates about events, news, policy, or funding opportunities, your  professional body will be very useful. Try for example the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning @SVEB SFEA, Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung @DIE_Bonn or the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training @EHB_IFFP_IUFFP.
  3. Following individual journalists too might be a way to hear about interesting stories or even raise your own profile in the press. Many journals also have their own Twitter accounts which they may use to interact with potential contributors or interviewees.
  4. Following colleagues in your discipline is a fantastic way to network. Search for people you know or have heard of to see if they have a Twitter account. Search by name or by keyword, also following the ‘backchannel’ of tweets around large annual conferences is a good way to find out who’s on twitter.
  5. Policy makers If you’re interested in government education policy, you could always follow individual politicians or the SBFI.

Twitter is partly about the information you tweet, but also about the information you gain from the people you follow. Spend some time reading your twitter feed to see what comes up!

More to explore

This section is a resource that you may want to return to later in the course. If you are new to twitter you may skip this section for the moment. How many people you follow is up to you, although perhaps 100 is a good number to aim for (not all today!), to ensure a useful stream of content. Think about what sort of information you want access to, and what sorts of tweeters are likely to offer it (see the list below for some suggestions). It is an organic process and will take time to build up, and don’t forget that you can always unfollow people if the content they tweet is not useful to you! The ‘follow’ button will simply turn to ‘unfollow’, giving you this option. There are ways to find out if you’ve been unfollowed, but generally people don’t bother to check!

Alternatively, you could mute certain people (some people post huge numbers of tweets which can swamp your feed) and occasionally visit their profile to catch up on their tweets. In some cases this is preferable to completely unfollowing them. More about this next week.

How to grow your Twitter feed from here.

Twitter will suggest people for you to follow based on who you’re currently following. This can be a bit random at first, as you’re not following many people so there’s nothing for its algorithm to work on. There are other ways to add people to your Twitter feed:

Snowball – look at the profile of the people you’re following – who do they follow, and who else is following them? You can see who’s following you, or anyone else, by going to your or their profile, and clicking on ‘followers’.

Retweets – people you follow will retweet things they think might be of interest to others. Keep an eye out for interesting retweets from accounts you don’t yet follow, and add them. We’ll cover retweeting in future Days.

Hashtags – especially around livechats or livetweeted events such as conferences. Joining a discussion around a hashtag is a good way to find more people interested in that topic or event. We’ll also cover hashtags in future Days.

#FF or #FollowFriday – this a convention on Twitter that on Fridays where you tweet the names of people you think are worth following. Watch out for these, or tweet your followers and ask them for recommendations!

Follows – you will be notified when new people follow you – look at their profile to see if they are someone you want to follow back. If you suspect one of your new followers is spam, you can ‘block’ them using the gear icon next to the ‘Follow’ button, and selecting ‘block’. It’s as well to do this, especially as people may be looking through your followers for ideas of who to follow, and it doesn’t look good if lots of your followers are spam!

Activity for Day 3:
So – go find some people to follow, and in spare moments through the day, watch the feed of tweets and information they’re sending. If you find any other interesting people you think others should follow, let us know! Remember to keep an eye out for tweets from @WBK10DoT!

Day 2 of #WBK10DoT: Sending Tweets

Ready to tweet? Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters, which doesn’t seem much. Many people who are new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates about whatever they’re doing would be interesting to others. But there are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of very practical use to others. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from learning developers and institutions in adult education and see what kinds of information they share, to get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 140 characters.

What to tweet?

The appropriate tone for a professional Twitter account doesn’t need to be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. In fact, you’ll have to be a bit informal if you want to fit everything in, using abbreviations and even textspeak! Even if tweeting on behalf of a department or group, you need to be engaging rather than formal. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that your tweets can be kept by others, even if you delete them (more about this on Day 10). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context.

Some examples of what you might tweet about:

  • an article you’re reading that’s interesting or a book you recommend
  • an online resource you’ve stumbled across
  • a workshop or conference you’re going to – others may not have known about it, may want to meet you if they’re also going to be there, or may want to ask you about it if they can’t make it
  • some insight on learning development work from an incident that happened today
  • study advice or insights into how you teach a topic
  • a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
  • slides from a talk which you’ve just uploaded online
  • your thoughts on an education news story
  • a funding, project or job opportunity you’ve just seen
  • a digital tool or software you’re using or problem you’ve solved with it
  • a typical day – an insight into a learning developer’s life or moral support
  • your new publication or report which has just come out

Sending a tweet

Sending a tweet is really easy – when you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a box in the middle of the screen at the top, which says „What’s happening?“ If you click in the box, you’ll be able to write your tweet and then click the „Tweet“ button. You can also use the „Tweet“ button in the top right of the screen to compose your tweet (will be opened in a own window).twitter_send-tweets

Remember – you’re only able to write 140 characters including spaces. A small counter below this box tells you how many characters you have left. You’ll soon develop a suitably concise style, and learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.

First Activity for Day 2:
This bit is important for us to find all participants. As your first message, please send the following tweet:
Joining in #WBK10DoT with @WBK10DoT!

If you already have an twitter account it is a good practice to let your followers know that you take part in a open course, so this first tweet can serve as an announcement. However, you may want to compose the tweet differently for your followers, please feel free to do so, make sure to include the hashtag #WBK10DoT. Skip this task if already done on day 1 or earlier.

Over the next week, we’ll be sending various types of tweets. For today, though, just send a few simple messages over the course of the day, using the examples above. Whenever include the hashtag #WBK10DoT in your tweets , we’ll explain why later!

Second Activity for Day 2:
Send a few tweets, now and perhaps throughout the day, following suggestions from the list above! Make sure that when people check out your profile created on day 1, there’s some interesting and engaging content there! And remember to add the hashtag #WBK10DoT.

Looking forward to read your tweets.

Day 1 of #WBK10DoT: Setting up your account

Welcome to Twitter, and to #WBK10DoT!

The first thing you need to do is to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword (elearning by example), as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:

Twitter is a conversation

Setting up an account

Setting up an account on Twitter is the easy part! There’s still a few things to think about, though, in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile using

  • your handle (@name), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you
  • your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their twitter feed, on a quick glance
  • your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage
  • your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will sum up who you are and why people might want to follow you
  • the overall look of your twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it

If you already have a Twitter account, then you could use this post to refine your profile and your overall aims and audience.

What purpose do you want to set up an account for? With Twitter, you can have more than one account (each linked to a different email address), as, unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, it is not limited to single real life identities. Many people will start off with a personal, individual account to get used to Twitter, and then think about other ways in which they might use it to represent a group or service. For example, I’m both @cinigabellini for individual professional conversations, and also @WBK10DoT for this programme! You might wish to set up an impersonal account to publicise your department, or other activity such as a conference team, journal, research group, module or service like this one @ZentrumLL.

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the site to set up an account.

  • You’ll firstly need to enter a real name (will be the login name), email address and password to sign up and create an account. Different accounts will need separate email addresses.
  • At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym which people associate with you in some way. Don’t worry – you can change this later without losing your followers or tweets, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. Note that this username will be part of the twitter URL.
  • The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but I recommend you skip this step for now – we will look at it on Day 3!

Fill out your profile

The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel more encouraged to follow you.

  1. Upload a profile picture. The picture should be smaller than 2MB in size. When skimming through a twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be of you, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers in real life at conferences! Full body pictures work less well as at the size of a thumbnail image, it’s hard to pick out your face!). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name, as long as it’s striking. You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more. If you are setting up an account for a service or department within your organisation make sure it meets the requirements of the corporate design. If available, also check the social media guidelines of your organisation.
  2. Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use an abstract pseudonym and picture (like Helen Webster, for example, who calls herself @scholastic_rat), your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’ – again, useful at conferences! If you use Twitter to represent a department or group, then the ‘full’ version of its title, especially if your @name is an acronym, would be something to add here.
  3. Add a location (this could also be an institution or other affiliation). Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university or HE body you are affiliated with, lending you credibility and authority.
  4. Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. You can have only one, so perhaps your university webpage, if you have one, would be most appropriate here. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.
  5. Add a ‚bio‘. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to encourage people and give them a reason to follow you. Again, a blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting. Some people like to add that they are “tweeting in a personal capacity” or that the “views are my own” to clarify that their tweets do not reflect the views of their employer, although you may feel that this is clear enough anyway.
  6. You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter – is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?

Editing your Profile and other Settings

You can change all the information you entered while registering by clicking on the Edit Profile button:twitter_edit-profile-button

In addition, you can change your Header photo – the one the top that sits behind your avatar – or change the ‘theme color’. Click the ‘Save Changes’ button when you’re happy with the results.

To change other settings, click on your small Profile Picture at the top of the screen, and select „Settings and Privacy“. By default you will receive notifications of various Twitter activities by email, which can be a bit annoying. Under ‚Email notifications‘ you may deactivate all notifications for the moment and come back later to refine your email preferences to be notified about specific activities.twitter_settings-privacy-menu

Visit the twitter help pages on how to manage your account for more information.

More to explore

You can create more Twitter accounts from other email addresses for other aspects of your life, and it’s best not to mix content and audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them or confuse them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Activity for Day 1:
That’s enough for now, take you time until Monday August 29, 2017 to create an engaging profile, which invites others to follow your tweets. Be aware that you still can change settings later on.

Let us know how you’re getting on, why not leave a comment on this post a link to the URL of your profile? Look at the web address in your browser web address bar, this is your twitter url. Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know by leaving a comment! If you’re finding it hard to get in touch through the blog, do email me.

Best wishes

Getting Ready for #WBK10DoT

Ten Days of Twitter for Adult and Professional Education will start next week on Monday August 29, 2017, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you online, exploring Twitter and joining in the conversations. I’ve found it an invaluable way to share information and resources with others. I hope you find it a positive experience too.

We’ll be going at a manageable pace – one small aspect of Twitter each day  – each day will need about 20 – 30 minutes for you to cover the basics. If you get a day or so behind, don’t worry though, it’s easy to catch up when you have time, the blog posts will all still be there, and I will still be around on Twitter to say hi! If you have time, there are some extras to explore, also spend a little time engaging with your Twitter feed and interacting with your new followers – it will be worth investing a little extra time if you’re able to!

Preparing for Day 1: Set up a profile
In order to participate in this course you will need a Twitter account. Setting up an account on Twitter is the easy part! There’s still a few things to think about, as Twitter is a very public social media channel. Some prefer using a test account first to explore twitter within this course until they get used to, others will start off with a real name using a personal, individual account or wish to set up an impersonal account to publicise a department, service or group. This information is covered more on detail on Day 1, and for your convenience it will be published this week on August 24, 2017, so you will have enough time to get prepared for your account setup.

Where does the course happen?
Follow the Twitter stream at
Daily Tasks and general course information will be published on this blog and from the @WBK10DoT course account, conversations through my individual account @cinigabellini. If registered you will receive the daily task information by email.

If you have any questions or comments, do leave them in the comment field below. If you’re finding it hard to get in touch through the blog, do email me. By the way, you can comment, email or tweet in German, multilingual tweeting is quite common.

See you soon online!