Day 10: Class live chat!

Live chat today: 12:10-1:00

Today’s questions:

Q1 Tell us something you’ve discovered using Twitter over the last 10 days. Best hashtags? Favourite accounts? New way of working? People to talk to?

Q2 Have you had success in building followers? What worked in building a follower base? What else do you think you can try? h/t Katharina on this one

2017-02-17_08-06-58Q3 What frustrations or reservations do you have about using Twitter?

Q4 More broadly, have you come to see Twitter’s purpose or role differently in the last 10 days?

Q5 What questions do you still have about Twitter?

Housekeeping: After the class, we’ll tweet out a link for an evaluation form. We look forward to your feedback on #UofT10DoT!

We’ll also tweet out a link to the Storified version of the chat, once it’s ready.

Live chat Storified here.




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 (Feb. 17), 12:10-1:00
  • 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. Of January’s #DLNchat [Digital Learning Network] on building cultures of experimentation in higher ed.

When you arrive in the chat, say hello (unless you want to lurk – not applicable to the #UofT10Dot chat, though). If you’re chatting with strangers, you may be asked to introduce yourself, say a few words about who you are, where you’re from (in an academic conversation, often your institution) and/or why you’re there. The moderators will ask the questions one at a time and allow the group to respond.

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. You can try searching on “Twitter chat” in the Twitter search bar, though you will likely have to wade through a lot of irrelevant material. And of course, you can always ask!


#UofT10Dot live chat: Feb. 17, 12:10-1:00

  • Moderators: @EvelineLH (tweeting on @UofT10DoT) & @JesseCarliner
  • 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.

Further reading

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 (the prof in this case wants students to make their entire argument in 140 characters).

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?”

However, remember this caution, discussed on Day 1:


Day 7: Twitter and conferences

mla17 pic.PNG

Today we’re looking at

  • Tweeting at a conference (and before and after the conference)
  • Twitter for conference organizers

Today’s assignment:

  • We want to know what you think about Twitter and conferences. Have you already used Twitter at a conference? Do you think you will in the future? Have you followed along via Twitter even though you didn’t go? Do you have more conference tips for the group? Please let us know (with #UofT10DoT of course).

Tweeting at a conference

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. Conferences also present you with an opportunity to find more people to follow and get followers yourself.

Important tip: expectations around Twitter usage and Twitter etiquette at conferences can vary from discipline to discipline, conference to conference. For example, some scientists are concerned about not-yet-peer-reviewed results getting coverage. Others may be concerned about sharing research that is sensitive in nature. If you’re not sure about Twitter etiquette in a particular context, ask! Or wait to see what others are doing. We list some further readings on conference etiquette at the end. Please let us know if you know of others.

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

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:

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 (we’ll get to these tomorrow). 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. You can also follow the conference’s Twitter account for more formal announcements.

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 (or last two digits of 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!

Particularly at a large conference, you may want to add a second hashtag for the session number.


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
  • Screenshots of the presenter’s slides (but note this is sometimes frowned upon!)
  • 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
  • Other 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 the 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.

Again, be careful of what’s appropriate in your particular context.

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:
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.
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. If you don’t want people to tweet (or photograph your slides, etc.), say so.

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 (scheduling tweets is on the agenda tomorrow). 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:
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 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 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.

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
(Note that he thinks it’s never okay to photograph and tweet conference slides. A counter argument is that the nature of the material on the slide should determine this, and the wishes of the presenter. 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 6: Advanced content


In Week 1, you got some practice in composing messages 140 characters at a time – and sometimes got frustrated at the limitations. Today we’re looking at some techniques to expand your messages.

This includes:

  • How to write longer
  • Curating Twitter content
  • Moving beyond text: Tweeting photos and images, video & GIF’s

Your assignment: try one new way to expand your message! And of course tweet it out with #UofT10DoT.

How to write longer

If you want to write substantially longer, Twitter is still not your best option. Write somewhere else, like a blog, and link to it. Twitter and blogs go beautifully together.

You can go beyond 140 characters of text however.

Option 1: Take a screenshot of a longer text

Write your text somewhere else (Word; text messages; Notepad … anywhere, really). You may also want to highlight or comment on something you’ve had published elsewhere. In either case, take a screenshot of the text. You then can add the screenshot as an image to get around the 140-character limit.


You can also take a screenshot of someone else’s text, say if you want to comment on it. If you do this, make sure you attribute the quote or include a link to the original. This is academic Twitter, after all. Tracing citations is important!


Option 2: Twitter essay (or thread or tweetstorm or Twitter rant)

A tweetstorm or thread or Twitter essay is simply a series of tweets on the same topic, allowing you to expand on your ideas while still reaching a Twitter audience. Ideally each individual tweet is still written in a pithy style.

Important tip: thread your tweets so they stay together! People in fact get annoyed if you don’t do this.

  1. Reply to your own tweet.
  2. Delete your handle, type your second tweet.
  3. Repeat as necessary. You can string together as many/few tweets as you want.

Reading: Jeet Heer, I didn’t create the Twitter essay genre. I just made it popularA Twitter essay about Twitter essays, but published in the Globe and Mail.

Heer distinguishes between tweetstorms and Twitter essays, the latter being more artful. But you don’t actually have to write like Jeet Heer to try it out! (You may want to follow him, though: @heerjeet).

Numbering your tweets is optional, but can be helpful in orienting your readers, particularly in longer threads. Numbering also has the advantage of signalling to your readers that there’s more to come. You can put the number at the beginning or end of the tweet.

Here’s an example of an unnumbered thread that’s a bit of a rant (click through to see the entire thread):2017-02-11_17-39-56.png

Here’s a more formal, numbered essay that starts by highlighting someone else’s text:


Curating Twitter content

If you’re curating Twitter content, you’ll want to pull together content from various sources into some kind of cohesive whole or narrative. Once you’ve created your narrative, you can tweet out the link.

Storify is an app that allows you to gather tweets from people or hashtags, 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: It’s generally a good idea to Storify soon after an event when tweets are still easily findable. Once tweets have been captured they’ll remain, but only as long as users keep the post up, i.e. don’t delete them. It’s not a preservation strategy!

You could also try Creating a Twitter moment. Thanks to one of your classmates, we even know how to cite these.


Going beyond text

According to the cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can increase the impact of your tweets and extend your tweets beyond the 140 character limit by tweeting other types of content like photos and other images, GIF’s, and live and recorded videos.

Tweeting photos and images

Photos and other images can lead to higher rates of retweeting and engagement, and your tweet is more likely to be noticed in your followers’ tweetstream. Twitter’s algorithm also preferences tweets with images and other media and your tweet is more likely to be included in your follower’s tweetstream.

You can include images with your tweet from either your desktop computer’s hard drive or from your mobile device camera roll by clicking on the camera icon below the text box in the lower left hand corner of the tweet composer interface.


You can include up to four photos in one Tweet. Pictures do not count towards your 140 character limit (in the past they did). When you use your mobile device to upload a photo, you can edit the image by clicking on the pencil in the lower right hand corner of the image, including filtering, applying emojis and other characters, and cropping.


Editing photo twitter.PNG

If you are uploading images from your desktop’s hard drive, they must be already edited. You can also shoot photos from within the Twitter app on your mobile device, if you have allowed this in your settings, by selecting the blue photo camera icon underneath the text box in the tweet composer.

Unlike Instagram, sharing photos is not Twitter’s primary purpose. Your images are not the primary content for searching and are not prominently featured on your profile page. To view what photos have been tweeted by a user, click on the Twitter profile’s “media” link.


Rules for good photography apply on Twitter, however, considering the shelf life of a tweet (approximately 20 minutes), there is no need to invest an excessive amount of time getting it just “right.” Photography on Twitter is definitely much more “real” and casual, then on Instagram, but the better the photo the greater the chance of retweeting and engagement. Tweet photos that are in focus, well lit, and have good composition.Your text can contextualize or comment on the photos, or the images can support or illustrate your tweet.

You can also create a Twitter photo essay, as you would a Twitter text essay (see above). Here’s an example of a Twitter photo essay on how a book gets to the shelf at the library that was created for the U of T Libraries account:

Tweeting video

Videos, like photos, can increase your impact on Twitter and allow you to extend your communication options beyond text. Videos can be up to 120 seconds in length. There are so many possibilities for using video in your tweets! You could tweet video from an event, gallery or concert, from a research trip, conference, or just the weather. Here’s an example of a video tweet about yesterday’s snowstorm:

Here’s a a video clip someone tweeted from a conference:

You could also live broadcast (if permitted) from a lecture or concert, through a gallery, a stroll through an historic part of town, geology fieldwork– the sky’s the limit! You can share some of your expertise or experiences that you think would be of interest to your twitter followers.  Here’s an example of a live broadcast of Celtic harp recital at Trinity College Chapel by a U of T Librarian:

By using appropriate hashtags, your live broadcast will be discoverable by those interested in your topic. You have the option to leave the video up to be viewed after the live broadcast or you can delete it anytime.

How to tweet a video

You can tweet videos in four different ways:

  1. You can upload the video from your desktop’s hard drive.
  2. From your mobile device, you can upload a video from your camera roll that you have already shot in the same way that you can upload a photo– click the camera icon in the tweet composer and then select the video that you would like to share.  
  3. You can also record the video from within the Twitter mobile app by clicking on the video camera icon in the tweet composer (directly to the right of the photo camera icon).
  4. You can broadcast live through Twitter by clicking on the “Live” video icon. With live video, there is not a limit on length.  


Tweeting with GIF’s

Many of you have already discovered the joys of tweeting with GIF’s. For those of you new to the world of GIF’s, a GIF is a very brief, looping video. Here’s an example of using a GIF to reply to a tweet:

GIF’s are a great tool to add an exclamation mark to the textual content of your tweet, and they will definitely stand out in the twitter stream of your followers. Just a word of caution, GIF’s may not always be appropriate for all tweets and interactions. Some users have very strong negative feelings about GIF’s. Use your best judgement when deciding if and when to use a GIF and with GIF selection.

The easiest and most direct way to tweet a GIF is to the use the built-in GIF selection tool in the tweet composer interface, directly to the right of the photo selection link. Twitter provides access to a large number of GIF’s organized by mood and sentiment.


Now you are ready to show off your mad skills as advanced tweeters!


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 (as you’ll see on Day 8, Apps for managing the conversation).

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. Tip: if you’re using more than one word, adding in capital letters can make the hashtag more readable, e.g. #ShePersisted. It doesn’t make a difference to searching the hashtag – as football fans annoyed by bird pictures found out.

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.

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 #FollowFriday, though you’ll probably find the academic equivalent,  #ScholarSunday, to be more useful. Friday also has #FridayReads and others.


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 3: Following people — and getting followed yourself

Following people fills your Twitter feed with (hopefully) interesting and useful content. Getting followed yourself allows you to share your messages and engage in the online scholarly conversation.

Today we’re looking at:

  • how to follow people
  • how to identify accounts you want to follow
  • how to attract followers yourself

Today’s housekeeping task: you need to follow everyone in the class – which also gives you built-in followers! Some of you have started to do this already. You’ll get to know a bit about your classmates in the process. It will also make it easier to track the class discussions this way, but don’t forget to add #UofT10DoT to your tweets to make the class tweets easily discoverable.

An easy way to find everyone is to go to @UofT10DoT and follow the people we’re following (stop when you get to Jesse unless you want to follow other accounts we follow). Alternatively, you could search on the hashtag #UofT10DoT and follow everyone who’s used it lately. This only works if people have remembered to add it in.

How to follow people


It’s simple: go to someone’s account (by clicking on their name in a Tweet or searching for them) and click the Follow button. They’ll be notified, so they may check you out and follow you back. To give them a reason to follow you, make sure your profile is engaging (see Day 1) and that you’ve sent out some tweets (Day 2) for them to get a sense of what you talk about. Unfollowing is just as simple (but there’s no notification).

How to identify accounts you want to follow

  • Suggestions from Twitter. Twitter makes suggestions based on what it knows about you, e.g. who else you follow, so if your account is new, it can be a bit hit and miss. Some people give up at this point, thinking it’s all celebrities, news and people tweeting about their breakfast!
  • Search for names you know. This works best if the names aren’t too common. Suggestions: faculty in your department, big names in your field, fellow graduate students, your favourite academic bloggers, your favourite author/singer/athlete… In addition to people, you can also search for organizations in your field, journal names, funding bodies, educational institutions….
  • Search by topic at RightRelevance to find influencers in your area. This is a new-to-us site, so we’d like to get your feedback on how useful or accurate you find it. You can also check out ongoing conversations or articles. Note that at a certain point it will ask you to log in.


  • Check out the lists of academics on Twitter from Day 2
  • See who’s talking about topics you’re interested in via hashtags (we’ll look at hashtags more on Day 5)
  • Follow some sources on academic or grad life. Suggestions (there are many more!):
  • Check out:

2015-01-30_16-52-55 (under List members)

  • For some academic humour try:
  •  When you follow someone, also check out who they follow for more ideas on who to follow.
  • #FollowFriday or #ScholarSunday– on Fridays you can tweet the names of people you think are worth following to others. Watch out for these, or tweet your followers and ask them for recommendations! More useful for academic purposes is  #ScholarSunday, invented by Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega.

Today’s assignment: Go find some new people to follow! Then tweet about it to the class. Who/what did you follow and why? If you want to see what kinds of reasons people give, check out #ScholarSunday.

Getting followers yourself

If you’re at all active on Twitter, your followers will naturally snowball. Want things to go faster? Check out some of the advice here:

How to get more Twitter followers – and keep them – a non-academic (but research-based) perspective: “The answer is simple [ha!]. Write tweets that people want to read, and avoid writing tweets that people hate to read.”

The other part of the equation is getting noticed on Twitter.

9 scientifically proven ways to build followers on Twitter – reports on another research study: “5. Tweet often, but not in bursts.”

 Activities that get you noticed include:

  • following someone (the person is often notified, depending on their notification settings)
  • liking a tweet with the heart button (ditto)
  • retweeting (ditto)
  • joining the conversation or asking questions related to a hashtag
  • sending @messages
  • tweeting at conferences
  • joining  in a live chat

These are all things we’ll look at in the next few days. And speaking of notifications, you might want to go to your account settings and choose how you get notifications, and which ones.

Further reading:

50 free ways to increase your Twitter followers

The research studies mentioned above:

Day 2: What to Tweet

Today we’re looking at:

  • How to send out a tweet
  • What sorts of topics you might want to tweet about

Twitter only lets you send out 140 characters at a time—just one or two sentences. But that length doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial, or only used to tweet about frivolous things.

Many people new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates on what they’re doing would be interesting to others. There are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of practical use to others. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from academic tweeters; seeing what kinds of information they share will help you get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 140 characters: (Arts & Humanities) (Public Policy) (Toronto Science) (STEM)

The appropriate tone for a professional twitter account needn’t 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! Just remember that Twitter is a very public medium; 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 or website you recommend – and include the link!
  • a workshop, webinar, seminar 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 academic work from an incident that happened today
  • a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
  • slides from a talk or lecture which you’ve just uploaded online
  • your thoughts on an education or other news story relevant to your work
  • 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 an academic’s life or moral support
  • your new publication or report which has just come out (there are ways of mentioning this gracefully!)
  • include a photo or image with your tweet. BTW Twitter’s algorithm preferences tweets with images in user feeds
  • something from your life off the academic clock

Tweeting 101

Sending a tweet is really easy, though the ‘Compose’ button lives in different places depending on the device you’re on. When you’re logged into Twitter on your desktop, a box at the top of the feed will ask, “What’s Happening?” You’ll also see a box at the top of your newsfeed, as well as a button in the top right hand corner beckoning you to tweet.

Image of Twitter "What's Happening" composition box

Screenshot of "Tweet" button highlighted

Remember: you only get 140 characters, including spaces. As you type your tweet, a small counter below this box which tells you how many characters you have left. Once you’re over, the count will go negative, and all extra letters will be highlighted in red. You will not be able to hit the ‘Tweet’ button until you’re at 140 or less.

Screenshot of a tweet being typed that has too many characters and cannot be sent.

You’ll soon learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.

One quirk to Tweet-length rules is that all URLs will take up 22 characters, even if they’re very short or very long (even when it displays much longer, as in the above image). Regardless, you may want to use a URL shortener like Bitly or the Google URL Shortener to make your tweets looks cleaner.

Today’s assignment:  

  1. For your first message, please tweet out some version of the following:

Joining in #UofT10DoT with @UofT10DoT, @JesseCarliner & @EvelineLH

2. Then write a tweet completing this sentence (or your own variation):

What I want to learn in #UofT10DoT: …

3. (Optional). Practice composing 140-character messages by posting even more tweets. Try commenting on/linking to something academic … or non-academic. Or post a picture or video.

For all your tweets, please make sure to include the hashtag #UofT10DoT as we do in our tweets. If you click on this hashtag in a message, you’ll be able to see your classmates’ tweets. We’ll talk more about the uses of hashtags in a few days.

Over the next nine days, we’ll be sending out many different types of tweets (questions, private messages, quotes, etc.), but that’s all for today!

Further Reading:

Social media and writing style – Rachel Cayley of SGS’s English Language and Writing Support

For fun:

@ShitAcademicsSay and @ResearchWahlberg