Twitter How-To

For those of you who may be new to Twitter, we’ve assembled a quick tutorial on some of the finer points of Twitter along with some simple implementation strategies for your classroom. For more insight into how to incorporate Twitter into your teaching practices, read our post on teaching with Twitter.

Once you create a Twitter account, or if you already have one, be sure to follow us @TempleTLC!

Finding People to Follow

Twitter allows you to import your contacts from Facebook and email so that you can connect with your students, colleagues, and industry professionals. The search feature enables you to find people and institutions with whom you’d like to connect. Also, when you view someone’s profile and click the ‘follow’ button, Twitter will suggest a couple related accounts. An added benefit is that on any profile, you can view a list of who they follow; from there, you have the option to broaden your network even further.

Retweeting vs. Quoting Tweets

Retweeting is a quick and easy way to share posts made by others, from tweets to pictures and videos to articles. When you retweet something, the post is copied as-is and appears on your profile and the feeds of anyone who follows you.

The quoting function is not directly available on the web app, but you can quote a tweet manually. However, on the mobile applications and programs such as TweetDeck, Twitter does provide a quote option when you click the “Retweet” icon.

The difference between retweeting and quoting a tweet is whether or not your editorialization makes an appearance.

To accomplish quoting manually, copy and paste a tweet into your own and insert your comment or question before the quoted text. For example: “This is awesome! RT @TempleTLC: We launched our new blog today! Check out our first post on how to use Twitter.”

A reminder: Always attribute the source and add quotation marks around the content or put RT (for ‘retweet’) or MT (for ‘modified tweet’) in front of the account handle.

Using this feature, you can prompt your students, via your class hashtag (discussed later), with a discussion question in response to an article or a tweet.

Since tweets are still limited to 140 characters, if you want to use someone else’s tweet in your own but you don’t have enough room, you can edit theirs and your tweet to make it fit. This is when you would use ‘MT,’ not ‘RT,’ before the borrowed text. Accomplish this by deleting disposable words (articles, for one) and reducing letters in words (‘your’ becomes ‘yr’) as needed.

Favoriting Tweets

To favorite a tweet is more so to bookmark it than it is the Twitter equivalent of ‘Liking’ it. Tweets you’ve favorited are compiled and viewable directly from your profile. If you treat the function as a ‘like,’ this just means more tweets through which to filter in order to find ones that you wanted to reread or respond to.

Creating Lists

Lists enable you to group Twitter accounts together — not just those you follow and who follow you — and filter a feed of just those tweets. You can create a list for faculty in your department, for instance, or recreate your class rosters. This comes in handy especially if you teach multiple courses and implement Twitter in all of them.

The lists you manage, subscribe to, or are a member of are viewable from your profile, on the lefthand side of the page. From there, you can create and manage your groups. You can subscribe to other public lists, too, even without following all of the accounts in that directory. Also, when viewing someone’s profile, the icon next to the ‘Following’ button features a drop-down menu of options, with one being ‘Add or remove from lists.’

Implementing Hashtags

Hashtags are arguably the most useful part of Twitter. They allow users who probably do not know one another in real life to connect via topics in which they have an interest. Hashtags are set up as short phrases or acronyms preceded by a pound sign (#), which is what activates them on Twitter, making them clickable and searchable. For example, hashtags can be used for class discussions, conferences, and promotional campaigns.

Take #edvice. A play on words, synergizing “advice” with “education,” we seek to create a new buzzword that will not only advertise our own material but foster better connections within the higher ed community and among those who latch on. We encourage you to use #edvice in your social media communications, too. If anyone is posting with this hashtag, we can discover this through search capabilities and then we can respond. You can do the same if someone beyond the classroom wants to contribute to your online discussion.

You can create a hashtag for each of the classes you teach, such as #twitter101. Students can live-tweet class discussions and in-class or at-home reading assignments. If they implement the hashtag, their tweets can be searched, referenced later, and archived. There are services (like Storify or HootSuite‘s Twapper Keeper) that enable all of the posts surrounding a topic or hashtag to be streamlined into one feed, which can then be shared.

Make a Hashtag:

Generally, the class hashtag will bear resemblance to the course number and/or the semester, especially for courses that are offered continuously, like #twitter101f13 (for fall 2013). The more unique the hashtag, the easier it will be to use exclusively for you and your students. A generic hashtag like #marketing would too easily get mixed up with outside tweets and accounts that may take away from your class.

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