Day 10: Class Live Chat!

Live chat today: 1:10-2:00

Today’s questions:

Q1 Tell us something you’ve discovered using Twitter over the last 2 weeks. Best hashtags? Favourite accounts? New way of working? People to talk to?

Q2 More broadly, have you come to see Twitter’s purpose or role differently in the last 10 days?

Q3 What frustrations or reservations do you have about using Twitter?

Karl has already mentioned this one:


Q4 What questions do you still have about Twitter?

Day 9: Chatting & Teaching

Today we’re looking at:

  • live chats on Twitter
  • organizing our own #UofT10DoT Day 10 live chat – don’t forget, it’s tomorrow (June 24), 1:10-2:00
  • teaching with Twitter

Live chats

A live chat on Twitter (aka a Twitter chat or tweet chat) is a conversation which takes place synchronously, in real time. A live chat may of course break out spontaneously, but the term more often refers to an organized affair, with moderators or leaders and a pre-set time, topic and hashtag. It may be a one-off or a regularly held “meeting.” The moderators generally use questions or prompts (typically four or five) to get the conversation rolling, and may ask the group for suggestions beforehand.  Here are two examples of regularly scheduled chats:

  • MedEdChat – it takes place on Thursdays, so you could see it in action tonight if interested
  • #withaPhD – “for graduate students, academics, and anyone else who has or may wish to have PhD experience.”

Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts (and get followers) and share experiences. A key rule to remember is use the hashtag–otherwise your contributions to the conversation will be invisible except to your followers (yes, this seems obvious but it’s easy to forget in the rush to reply). After the fact, the chat is often Storified, with the link tweeted out so anyone interested can catch up with what was discussed. Here’s an #acwri chat on writing journal articles.

How do you find out about live chats? Moderators promote Twitter chats in advance, so you may find them through your regular Twitter feed or through particular hashtags. Of course, you can always ask!



#UofT10Dot live chat: June 24, 1:10-2:00

  • Moderators: @EvelineLH (tweeting on @UofT10DoT) & @NellyCancilla
  • Storify volunteer: Anyone itching to practice their Storify skills?
  • Questions: do you have any questions you’d like us to discuss as a group? Please tweet your suggestions. We’ll post the questions in the Day 10 blogpost and again during the live chat.

Twitter chats – why are they useful and how do they benefit academic staff

Top #Twitter chat tips for academics

… and Twitter chats can be a site for research!


Teaching with Twitter

You’ve now all experienced taking a workshop and learning via Twitter. We’d love to hear what you thought of the experience–possibly in the live chat? We’ll also do a follow-up survey.

If you think you might want to use Twitter in your own teaching, whether in an academic or professional setting, here are some suggestions to inform and inspire you. Have some other suggestions? We’d love to see them!

Tweeting in higher education: Best practices (EDUCAUSE)


Gradhacker: 7 Things I Learned from Teaching with Twitter

MOOC MOOC: Critical pedagogy – uses weekly live chats (#moocmooc)

The Twitter essay – includes the prof’s instructions to the class

Twitter in the Classroom: Early African History – ”How did it go? What did I learn?”

Teaching with Twitter: How the social network can contribute to learning – “The important question to ask regarding e-learning is: What does an online space make possible by way of teaching that my class couldn’t do face-to-face?”

Day 8: Tweeting at a Conference

Today we’re looking at

  • Tweeting at a conference
  • Twitter for conference organizers

(It’s day 8! We’ve covered all of the basics, and are now onto topics that are less ‘how to’ and more our own thoughts. And we’d love to hear yours as well! What is this post missing? Where do you disagree? You can comment on Twitter, or send us an email or DM if you’d prefer)

Using Twitter in a conference setting can be incredibly rewarding. You’re in a physical space surrounded by people interested in the same things you are, but it’s not always easy to meet the right people or to get the conversation started. Twitter allows you to connect with others at a conference with very little formality. See a tweet in the conference stream that intrigues you? Engage with that user! Once you’ve got the conversation started, meeting in person becomes a lot easier. Pretty soon you’ll be starting conversations with, “I follow you on Twitter!” like a pro.

Planning to attend

As you’re looking through the conference program, look up panelists you’re interested in hearing and start following them now. You may even want to send out a tweet indicating that you’re looking forward to their session.

Tweet says "Looking forward to @BenAGolding's session on major gift fundraising at @AFPAdvNW 2015 Conference #AdvNWConf LINK

Giving a talk? Let your followers know you’ll be speaking, and point them to the abstract or program if it’s online.

Tweet says: "really looking forward to co-hosting a session on the intersections of faith and feminism at the @AIglobal conference"

Figure out the conference hashtag and save it, either as a search (if you’re using the Twitter app), or as a stream if you’re using TweetDeck or HootSuite. Most programs and websites list the hashtag, but if you can’t find it, try searching the full conference name on Twitter and see if anyone’s tweeted about it yet.

At a small conference where there hasn’t been a hashtag assigned? You can start one! Remember to keep it short so it doesn’t eat too far into the 140 character limit. The organization’s acronym + the year often make the most sense—but try searching that hashtag to see if it’s busy in another context first. #NBAmeet may mean “National Biology Association meeting” to you, but your conference stream is going to get very, very full with basketball fans!

At a Conference

There are lots of different things you can tweet during a session. You might tweet:

  • Quotes from the presenter that resonated with you
  • Links to papers or websites the presenter has referenced (if you know them)
  • Points you disagree with and why
  • What you’re going to take away from the session
  • Another sessions you recommend based on this one.
Screenshot of tweets where the speakers' name begins the tweet, thus keeping it from the general feed
In the top tweet Jacqueline is linking to a video that our speaker played for the audience. In the bottom tweet, she is simply repeating what the speaker said, because she thinks it’s important! Notice that she is starting the tweets with the speaker’s username, so they won’t wind up in her general stream. This is your decision.
Screenshots of people suggesting one session based on having attended another-
In the top tweet, Sarah is recommending a website for those who attended a particular session. In the bottom tweet, M.J. is suggesting that those who liked session 327 should also come to his own session on a very similar topic.

Important note: What is and is not appropriate to tweet from a session depends on the discipline. Some scientists are concerned about not-yet-peer-reviewed results getting coverage, and about sharing research that may be sensitive in nature. (See today’s Further Reading for more.)

Outside of sessions you may want to attend at a conference, you may want to organize some kind of meet-up with people you meet on Twitter. And when Twitter friends meet up, it’s of course called a Tweetup! (People [‘peeps’] you know from Twitter? They’re your tweeps!)

Particularly if you’re in a new city, you might be hesitant about meeting up with a group of strangers.  This is why people using their real name, a photo of themselves, and a school and program of study is really important for building community. But do always meet for the first time in a public place!

Screen shot of a tweet that says: "Tonight! #alamw14 INALJ meetup! 7:30 Tria Taproom LINK"
A meet up has been organized, with a Facebook invite to house more details. People may be asked to RSVP on Facebook so the organizer can make a restaurant reservation.
Tweet: "If any of my #acrl2013 tweeps want to meet up for lunch, please @ me! Would love to chat!"
Anne is indicating she’d like to meet up with anyone she knows from Twitter who’s at the conference.


If you’d like people to tweet about your session, put the conference hashtag and your @username on the first slide. This way audience members know who to credit.

We talked a bit about scheduling tweets yesterday. If you’re going to be giving a short talk where you mention lots of other talks or websites, you might want to schedule a couple of tweets to go out into the hashtag during your talk. That way people following along will see the resources around the time you mention them. Or you may just want to upload your slides or paper to your personal website and schedule a tweet to go out at the end.

After the conference

Conference hashtags are typically quite busy for a few days after it wraps-up. Presenters are sharing their session’s slides or notes, and attendees may be reflecting on what resonated most, or what they’re most excited to apply to their own work.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 9.18.11 PM
Kate is sharing a website that contains information from the talk she’s already given
Tweet that says: "My #OLASC15 reflections: link"
Anita has written a blog post about the conference she attended the week before.

Running a conference

Sometimes, you’re on the other side of the table! If you’re running a conference, here are some nice things to do to encourage tweeting:

  • Figure out how you, as organizers, should be using twitter. Who, if anyone, will be doing the official conference tweeting? Do you want to promote certain sessions? Do you want to use Twitter to gather feedback? Will you be Storifying later?
  • Pick a hashtag. Put it in the program. Put it in all the tweets about the conference. You may also want to get a separate account for the conference, especially if you want to tweet both as the conference organizer and as an attendee with opinions about particular session.
  • Ask people for their twitter handle when they register, then print it in big letters on their badge. This makes it much easier for attendees to recognize people from their only network
  • If the wifi requires a password, consider printing that on the back of the badge. Nothing is worse than arriving at a conference across the border (i.e. the data-usage danger zone), not knowing anyone, and not knowing how to get online and meet people!
  • You’re probably going to be running around all day. Use Twuffer or other scheduling tools to your advantage! Have a keynote speaker at 2 o’clock? Schedule a reminder tweet for 1:30. Schedule tweets prompting attendees to give feedback at the end. Map it out, schedule it, and forget it.

Today’s assignment:

  • We want to know what you think! Tweet @UofT10DoT telling us about how you already use twitter at a conference, or how you might like to in future. You probably have some conference tips too! Add the hashtag #UofT10DoT to make sure your classmates can learn from you too.

Further Reading:

Live Tweeting at MLA: Suggested Practices Ernesto Priego, Digital Scholar, City University London.

Let’s Have a Discussion About Live-Tweeting Academic Conferences Jon Tennant, Geologist, Imperial College London
(I disagree with him that it’s never okay to photograph and tweet conference slides. The nature of the material on the slide should determine this. Of course, it’s always a judgement call.)

When Climate Scientists Criticise Each Other Paul Matthews, Mathematician, University of Nottingham (a bit removed from #UofT10DoT, but fascinating!)

Tweetup Etiquette Huffington Post


Day 7: Apps for Managing the Conversation

Today we’re looking at

    • Other Twitter features
    • Third party applications

Keeping track of all the interesting people you follow, and keeping up with your own tweeting, can be a challenge. Today we’ll look at a few Twitter features that can help you out, and some third-party applications (i.e. tools made by companies other than Twitter) that can take your tweeting to the next level.

Within Twitter


Sometimes you will want to focus on certain groups, or check in on some people only sporadically. This is hard to do in the undifferentiated stream of tweets on your Twitter feed, where they are all mixed in together. Why not put them into lists?

Lists can act as subsets of your twitter feed. You might divide the people you follow as:

  • Colleagues or services at your institution
  • Colleagues and peers across the country/world in a particular field
  • Professional or funding bodies
  • News accounts
  • Social, personal or fun accounts

Twitter has simple instructions for making lists here. Lists can be private, so only you can see them, or they might be public so you can share them with others. You might create a list to bring together the attendees at a workshop or conference (we’ve create a public list for this course), or to focus on the top accounts on a particular topic which you recommend other people should follow. You can share a list by giving people the URL of the list page, or let them view the lists you’ve created on your profile, where they can subscribe to your lists too. Do make sure you add a description, so others can find and subscribe to it.

And yes, you can search for lists! Run a regular search, then click ‘Timelines’ to see list results. You may need to scroll a little to find something relevant. Here’s why having a good list description is important!

screenshot of a search results page where lists are highlighted
You may need to scroll a bit to find relevant lists. We’re not sure about that first one either!

Creating a list from scratch and then trying to fill it is a bit of a pain—there’s no way to add a bunch of people at the same time, so it’s a lot of clicking around. If you’ve got a low follower count right now, we’d recommend creating a few lists anyway and adding accounts as you find them.

You can add an account to a list any time you’re on their profile page. Just click the gear icon and choose “Add or Remove from List”

screenshot highlighting how to add someone to a list

While we’re on the topic of managing people, you can also block or report people you don’t want to interact with using this menu. See more on blocking users here.


By now you may have figured out Liking. It’s less than a retweet, but more than just reading a tweet. People often like a tweet to bookmark it for later, but they also do so to indicate approval, sympathy, or appreciation (the tweeter will be notified), or in some cases simply to indicate that they’ve seen it.

Like a tweet by clicking on the little star icon below it.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.21.43 AM.png

Likes will be stored in your profile, so you can always come back to them later. While they don’t show up in your twitter feed, anyone else can check your likes from your profile too, so liking is not private.


The Moments tab, accessed from the top menu, may be more or less useful to you, depending on what you’re looking for (looking to procrastinate? You’ll love it!). It features headlines and popular news stories that you might want to hear about.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.23.58 AM

Third party applications

The beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity as a platform. However, sometimes you need a bit more functionality. There are some third party applications created by other companies as add-ons to Twitter, to help you out with some of the things about Twitter which you may find a bit overwhelming.

Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, and is a good way to manage more than one account, if you have more than one  (for personal and professional use, or perhaps an individual one and an official one on behalf of an institution). You can use Tweetdeck to split your Twitter stream into columns divided by accounts and create columns for notifications, feed activity, etc. It will import any lists you have made on Twitter too.

Hootsuite is similar application to Tweetdeck, but it allows you also to import other social media accounts such as Facebook, and it is also available as an app for mobile devices. You can sign up using Facebook, or if you prefer to keep Facebook separate from your professional social media use, you can sign up with an email address. It will then ask you to add your chosen social network accounts. You can then add streams of content similarly as in Tweetdeck, and tabs for the different social networks. Hootsuite has a quick start guide to help you set up your account.

Again, you can set up columns for hashtags, lists, notifications, or accounts.

screenshot of a Hootsuite home screen
In my HootSuite, I have three streams: my regular feed, a conference hashtag feed, and my notifications (retweets, favourites, or replies). On the right you see options for other streams.

A couple of other bonuses: When retweeting, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite will ask you if you simply want to retweet or if you want to edit the tweet, as we discussed yesterday. On Twitter, you need to copy and paste the tweet if you want to edit it, which can be fiddly; this does it automatically. Also, you don’t see the advertising ‘promoted tweets’ from companies you don’t follow!

Pocket is a bookmarking tool. If you find a webpage via a link in Twitter (or anywhere else), you can save it to Pocket, and then return to it later on. On your desktop computer, you can download and install it into your browser, so you can simply hit a button in your toolbar to save a webpage. When you use Twitter in a browser with Pocket installed, or if you have installed the Pocket app on your smartphone or iPad, a ‘Pocket’ option appears alongside the other options of ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, ‘like’ etc, so you can save it right from the tweet instead of having to open the link. You can also access Pocket on the web, if you’re on a computer which isn’t yours, or where you can’t install it into the browser. will deliver the main stories shared by the people you follow on Twitter in an email. To sign up, you’ll need to add your email address, and then connect it with your Twitter (or Facebook) account. This is especially useful if you’re not carrying around a tablet or mobile device and would like to see a summary of what’s been discussed in your feed.

Twuffer allows you to schedule tweets in advance. Why might you want to do this? Perhaps you’re presenting a paper and you’d like to nudge your followers at the conference to attend it. But are you going to remember to tweet in the hour before your talk, when you’re trying to find the room and set up your slides? Schedule that tweet beforehand! Or perhaps you’ve got some brilliant insights you’re dying to share, but it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. By the time your followers wake up, your brilliant thoughts will be buried far down their stream. Write them out, and schedule them for when you know your followers will be online (psst, use Tweriod to find out when the best time is!)

Storify allows you to gather tweets from people, feeds, or hashtag, and to place them on a storyboard in chronological order. You can just add tweets to the board (as well as Facebook posts, Instagram, RSS feeds, or YouTube), but it’s a richer experience if you give a bit of context and include multiple perspectives. Here’s a Storify-ed live chat: Why Do We Do History in Public?

Word to the wise: The Twitter API is only searchable for 14 days, so make sure you Storify soon after an event. Once tweets have been captured they’ll remain, but only as long as that users keeps the post up. It’s not a preservation strategy!

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to help you use Twitter more efficiently. Today’s post was only intended to give you a taste of what’s out there.

Today’s assignment:

Try at least one tool we’ve discussed and tell the #UofT10DoT stream what you think! Or suggest one that you think your classmates might like to know about.

Further reading:

Meier, F., Elswiler, D. & M. L. Wilson. “More Than Linking and Bookmarking? Towards Understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour.” Proceedings of the Eighth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 2014.

(We know it’s the weekend! If you’d prefer, here’s the BuzzFeed round-up of this same article: Why We Favourite Tweets, According to Science)

Day 6: Retweets

Today we’re looking at

  • How to retweet
  • How to add commentary to a tweet

So: you’re tweeting! You’ll probably find plenty in your everyday routine that will be of interest to others, whether they are your U of T colleagues, peers in your field, or perhaps peers in other fields!

But it’s hard work to generate all the material to feed your followers with regular, interesting tweets!  Fortunately, you don’t have to—you can retweet the tweets of others. Retweeting is a bit like forwarding an email, but to everyone who’s following you. They see the content of the original tweet, who it came from originally, and perhaps also a contextualising comment from you. By doing this, you’re performing a valuable service:

  • to your followers, by sifting the stream of information available to them, filtering out what’s potentially interesting to them, and also by making them aware of potential new contacts they can add to their network.
  • to the people you follow, by amplifying their message and spreading it outside their network (and also possibly putting them in touch with new contacts)
  • and of course, you’re displaying to others that you’re well connected to interesting and important people, and that you are a discerning judge of what information is interesting and significant!

To retweet a message, simply click the ‘retweet’ button at the bottom of a tweet. The grey number next it tells you how many times it’s already been retweeted.

screenshot of a tweet with the retweet button circled

The message will then appear in your followers’ twitter streams as if it camefrom the original sender, even though they may not follow them. There will be a small notification about the tweet stating that this has been ‘retweeted by @yourname’

screen shot of a retweet

But simply retweeting doesn’t say much about why you’re sending out into your feed. Is the tweet funny? Is this news item something you’re pleased with? Is this statement an annoying misconception that you see too often?

Sometimes you’ll want to add commentary to a tweet. Instead of choosing to just hit ‘Retweet,’ you have the option to add a small amount of commentary (up to 116 characters) that will sit on top of the initial tweet. You might comment as you re-tweet to add context:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 12.38.05 PM
The Experience Institute (@ExpInstitute) tweeted out a story, which @jbyas has re-tweeted, while adding commentary on his own involvement with the project.


You can also use this feature to respond publicly to a question or comment:


You might use this feature to highlight a quote from the link, either to encourage interest, or to emphasize a certain angle:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 12.46.40 PM
@tranlib is simultaneously publicizing an #openscience event and announcing that she can’t attend.
Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.04.11 PM
@monicamercado shares a job posting, using the retweet feature to insert the hashtag for the conference she’s attending
Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.49.39 PM
@peterson_scott promotes an article, while pulling a quote from it for emphasis

This is a fairly new feature! Until recently, you had to add ‘RT’ (which stands for ‘retweet’) to the text and try to fit your own response into the 140 characters as well! This is still used occasionally:

Screenshot of a retweet
@scholastic_rat has seen the article @CILIPinfo posted, and thinks it might be of interest to @Judithlib, but likely also to others in her feed.
Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 4.29.08 PM
@cmt1 shared @CNN’s article while also indicating to her followers that she finds it interesting.
screen shot of RT with context
@jonvoss simply added ‘EU’ to @bfk’s job call tweet. We assume he means “pay attention, followers who live in Europe”


Convention around this is changing, so don’t get too hung up about it.

Another option is to retweet, then compose a new tweet that begins ‘LRT’ (Last Retweet). This gives them the maximum amount of space to respond!:

screen shot of a retweet, followed by commentary in a separate tweet
(remember, timelines are in reverse chronological order, so @ezrijadzia retweeted first, then commented)

If you only want to retweet a URL link that someone else has shared, you can paste the URL into a new tweet add ‘via @name’ or ‘HT @name’ (HT stands for ‘hat tip’ or ‘heard through,’ depending on who you ask).

Remember that to use Twitter effectively to promote your own work, you need to update frequently with interesting content to gain a following, and you also need to reciprocate and promote the work of others. No one wants to read or retweet a Twitter feed which is just broadcasting announcements about itself!

Today’s assignment: 

Have a look at your twitter stream and see if you can find tweets you think your followers might be interested in—funding opportunities, calls for papers, an item of news, a new blog post or publication someone’s tweeted about, a comment you agree with…and start retweeting!

If you’ve found something that might be of interest to the whole class, why not modify the tweet to include our course hashtag (#UofT10DoT)?

Further reading: 

The Tweeting Graduate Student – Christopher Long (@cplong)

Day 5: #Hashtags

2015-02-04_15-10-10“Hashtag” declared 2012’s word of the year

A hashtag tags a tweet with a keyword that categorizes it and makes it more findable. It’s Twitter metadata. You can click on the hashtag in a tweet to bring up other tweets on the topic or you can search for hashtags in the search box. In Twitter itself, you cannot follow hashtags the way you follow people, but there are apps that let you set up feeds for as many hashtags as you like (see Day 7).

Anyone can create a hashtag. A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by the # (hash) symbol, with no spaces or other characters. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #UofT10DoT — but it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people it’s relevant to. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word) such as #RuinADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords (this sums it up) or #overlyhonestmethods.


Generally, though, above anything else it should be short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters.

Finding an already established hashtag can sometimes be tricky, since abbreviations are often used. You may need to search several variations before you hit on the right one. You can also check out people in your field to see what they use. And check out these 11 essential hashtags for academics. W

Hashtags are crucial to live-tweeting, that is, tweeting in an ongoing way about a live event, from a news happening to a hockey game to a conference session. The hashtag brings all the relevant tweets together in a rolling feed. We’ll talk more about live-tweeting when we talk about Twitter and conferences. And hashtags can be great way to build community.

Hashtags can also be used as commentary (or meta-hashtag) on the main message of the tweet:2015-02-04_15-03-54

Hashtags can make powerful statements:

#blacklivesmatter voted 2014’s word of the year in US

Here’s a hashtag that offers a challenge:

#ShareMyThesis – in 140 characters – this was actually a competition (now closed). Anyone want to give it a go?


Today’s assignment: find some hashtags that are useful to you and tweet about it! Or contribute to a discussion in your field using a hashtag that’s relevant to your research. If you’re having trouble finding the right hashtags, tweet about that too.

And since it’s Friday, you  may want to check out #FF (or #FollowFriday) – the academic equivalent (already noted) is #ScholarSunday. Friday also has #Fridayreads.

Tweeting using a topic hashtag is a great way to get noticed. Are people (outside the class) replying to you or following you?

Reminder: no “class” over the weekend. We’re back on Monday. Happy tweeting!


Further reading:

Hash – Susan Orlean in the New Yorker

History of #hashtags (infographic)

The weird and wonderful world of academic Twitter (mostly about hashtags)

Day 4: @messages

Today we’re looking at

  • How to send a tweet directed to someone in particular
  • How to reply to tweets
  • Why and how you might converse in public
  • How to send a direct (private) message

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—but the more you say about your interests, the more other Tweeters will know to direct relevant things your way. Sharing and conversing is a way of fine-tuning your twitter feed as well as providing useful information to others.

Sometimes you just want to send a tweet out into the world, but sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone—visible to other followers, but written to catch a particular person’s attention.

This might be because you are replying to one of their tweets, or because you want to ask them a question, or perhaps you’ve found an article you think they’d like, or want to tell them how much you’re enjoying their article!

You don’t have to follow someone to tweet at them, and they don’t have to follow you to respond.

To tag someone in a tweet, type out their username, preceded by the @ symbol. For example, to call my attention to your tweet, you would include ‘@nellycancilla’ in your tweet.



When you add someone’s @username to your tweet, they will see your message in their notification feed and, depending on their devices and settings, they may also get an alert that they’ve been ‘spoken’ to.

Screenshot of the notifications button


screenshot of phone's lock screen with twitter notifications

Some example tweets that tag or address a specific person:

  • hey, @jwhyteappleby, your presentation was interesting! Have you read @amirightfolks’s work in this area?
  • Giving a talk at UofT next week. @EvelineLH – are you around for coffee? Would be great to catch up!
  • Reading @libgoddess’s chapter on information literacy. Can’t wait to integrate it

This is another reason to keep your Twitter name as short as you can—your username counts towards the 140 characters!

With the exception of high profile celebrities with thousands of followers, Twitter users generally check their notifications and respond to many of the tweets sent to them. And the same should go for you! If you start a conversation, or ask a question, be expecting a response in your own notification feed. Being able to reply to users is what makes Twitter a medium for conversation rather than merely a broadcast platform. These conversations are Twitter’s real strength.

A small but important point is where you place the @username. When you click on a tweet, a box will appear for you to reply in, and Twitter will automatically begin your response with the @username:

screenshot of someone replying to a tweet

screen shot of the start of a twitter reply

However, if the very first thing in the tweet is someone’s @username, then only that person and those who follow both of you will see it in their newsfeed. If you want the tweet to have a wider audience, then you either need to put a full stop in front of the @ sign like this: .@nellycancilla OR you could include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence, for example: ‘hey @scholastic_rat, your blog post about Twitter is super helpful!’

Remember that whether you @message someone or not,  your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile. If you really want to send a message to just one person, but don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, you can send a Direct Message (DM), which is private—but you can only send DMs to people who are following you. You can view and send DMs from the little mail icon. Twitter now also gives you the ability to send a group DM. Look out for one soon!

screenshot of a DM notification

These are also limited to 140 characters.  (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!).

Why might you want a wider audience to see conversations between you and another user?

What’s in it for them:

  • It’s polite to acknowledge them if you’re tweeting about something they’ve said, or to let them know if you’re commenting on their work
  • You are drawing attention to them and their work to people who don’t already follow them – they get publicity and new followers

What’s in it for you:

  • You gain a reputation as a polite, helpful, knowledgeable and well-connected professional
  • You may also gain new followers or make new connections

What’s in it for your followers:

  • They get to know about someone’s work which they may have been unaware of, and a new person to follow
  • They are offered a chance to contribute to the discussion too, and thereby gain new contacts and audiences
  • If replying to someone who’s passed on useful information to you specifically, it’s helpful to copy in their reply to your tweet response, in case your followers are also interested in the information

There will be times when a DM is not required, but you also don’t need or want a wider audience: if your message is in-joke or requires context, or if it’s simply not relevant to most of your followers, just start the message ‘@’. The curious can follow along via your profile.

The @ symbol can only be used to tag people; you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at.’ Tweeting ‘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!

To see @messages directed at you, click on the tab marked Notifications with the bell icon, at the top of the screen. In most browsers you’ll also see the message itself appear in the bottom right-hand corner—and you can reply right there!

screenshot of a reply

All messages you’re tagged in will also appear in your Twitter stream, but you may miss them there if you’ve got a busy feed!

You can choose to receive an email when someone @messages you by choosing Settings > Email Notifications in the top left hand menu.

screenshot of how to access the settings menu

Today’s Assignment: Send a couple of @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, as long as they appear genuine and professional. And remember to send us an @message to tell us how it’s going (@UofT10DoT)!

Further reading: 

Twitter for Economists (slideshow in PDF)