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!).
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:
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:
- ‘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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!