Top 10 Twitter Tips!

Without a doubt, Twitter is my number one form of professional development and I am always recommending it to other educators.

I first joined Twitter in early 2009 although I didn’t start using it daily until early 2010.

I find Twitter to be a one stop shop to meet like-minded educators. It is a place where I can find advice, give advice, find great links, share my work and engage in general musings about education.

For me, Twitter has never been a place where I tell people what I am eating for breakfast or catch up on celebrity goss. While I use Facebook to keep up with friends, Twitter is purely a professional medium for me.

If you’re new to Twitter, this is a terrific video that explains how Twitter can be used as a professional development tool for teachers

(I came across this via Michael Graffin @mgraffin – thanks!).

As a regular Twitter user I thought I would offer some advice to new Tweeters.

1. Give it a chance! So many people who join Twitter have trouble getting their head around it or forming connections with others. I was using Twitter for months before I felt like I was a real part of the Twitter community and knew what I was doing. Make yourself check in to Twitter daily for a month before you make any decisions about whether it is for you.

2. Get a desktop application. The Twitter website is not overly user-friendly and most Tweeters use a desktop application to access and organise their tweets. I recommend TweetDeck. It is free, straightforward and available for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android etc. With TweetDeck, you can easily keep track of conversations, make lists and incorporate your other social networking sites (eg. Facebook).

3. Give and take. I have seen some people use Twitter simply to let others know about their new blog posts. While this is one great use of Twitter, why not strike up a conversation with someone or offer someone some advice? Like everything in life, you will find Twitter to be a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience if you give and take.

4. Tweet in less than 140 characters. Make your important tweets short enough so others can retweet them without having to shorten the tweet. If people have to go to too much effort to shorten your tweet (eg. after RT @username is added), they may decide not to retweet it.

5. Know where to put @username. I have seen so many people lately “retweet” a message by starting with @username. Don’t forget, with most Twitter applications, people will only see others’ replies if they are following both the sender and recipient of the update. Eg. you might think Mary has a great blog so you tweet “@mary has a great blog about teaching, check it out!” Only people following you and Mary will see the tweet. This really limits your audience.

6. To follow or not to follow. Some people only want to follow a certain number of people (eg. 100) so they can keep track of their tweets. If people follow me or retweet me and they are “quality Tweeters” (eg. teachers or involved in education), I will follow them back. I prefer not to follow businesses or commercial tweeters unless I’m particularly interested in them. Some people will disagree but I find this “following back” method polite. Over time, this can mean you could have 1000+ people you are following. Obviously that would be too many to keep track of but I create a list in Tweetdeck of people I’m particularly interested in. Currently there are about 150 people on this list. That may seem like a lot but some people don’t tweet all that often and I don’t feel compelled to see everyone’s tweets.

7. Let others know who you are! I do not follow back anyone who doesn’t have a bio. There are so many “spam” Tweeters out there, that I wouldn’t want to risk it! It takes minutes to make a bio that tells possible followers who you are. I much prefer people have a real photo of themself, rather than a cartoon avatar or other picture. People will feel much more of a connection with you if they can see who you are. Finally, when signing up for Twitter, it is best to use your real name (or close to) if possible. Being online and part of a PLN isn’t about hiding or pretending to be someone else. I don’t believe in having an online you and and offline you. Let us know who you are. Your digital footprint is valuable!

8. Use hashtags #. Hashtags mark key words or topics in tweets and help to categorise tweets. It is a way to get your tweet out to people who may not necessarily be following you. Hashtags can appear anywhere in the tweet. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets in that category. Some hashtags you might like include #edtech #edchat #elemchat #comments4kids #vicpln. If you go to a conference you will generally find they have a hashtag so you can tweet before, during and after the event and connect with fellow delegates. Tip: don’t over hashtag your tweet – 3 is enough!

Here is a post I wrote all about Twitter hashtags if you want more information.

9. Drop in and drop out. One of the great things about Twitter is you don’t have to keep up with everything. I love Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s analogy of Twitter being like a river. The river keeps flowing but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look, sometimes you might hang around a dip your toes in, other times you might spend hours swimming around. You can use Twitter as your time and inclination permits!

10. Ask for advice. If you’re not sure how things work on Twitter just ask. I am @kathleen_morris and I’m always happy to help! Don’t know who to follow? Tweet me and I will give you some suggestions!


Need more convincing on the power of Twitter? Chris Betcher has written a fantastic post. Find it here.

What are your thoughts on Twitter?

Share your Twitter tips!

40 thoughts on “Top 10 Twitter Tips!

  1. Hi Kathleen,

    I am so glad I followed your advice last year and joined Twitter! While I consider myself quite “tech savvy”, it took me quite a while to get my ahead around everything that Twitter offers. My advice would be to play around with it for a while and don’t give up if it all seems a little complex. It is really quite straight forward once you learn the basics.

    Developing a PLN through Twitter is such a valuable form of professional development. It took me a while to make regular connections with people, but now that I have, I have learnt so much! I find that you tend to connect with people who have similar interests as you do, so seeking out people who enjoy aspects of education that you value is a good way to start.

    I don’t consider myself a Twitter expert and I’m not always regularly posting tweets, but I really value my PLN and I’ve read so many interesting articles, blog posts etc after being alerted on Twitter.

    Keep up the tweeting! :)


    • @ Kelly,

      Twitter is quite a different medium to other tools. As we’ve found, it’s worth sticking with!

      Twitter is really enjoyable when you “get to know” people and find others with similar interests.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks for the ten tips. I am new to Twitter so advice like this really helps. I was interested to see you recommend TweetDeck to access and organise tweets. I am still coming to terms with the terminology and abbreviations… I am learning lots! Thanks for the usable information.


  3. A great post Kathleen. Your tips sum up some really important points for any of us using Twitter – both us newbies and the oldies! It seems to me that those who give Twitter the thumbs down are those who don’t give it a long enough ‘go’. It does take a while to get your head around Twitter, but is well worth the effort. Exanding my PLN has been one of the best bonuses of this form of communication.

    I love the video you included. It really says heaps in a very short presentation.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I think you’re right, some people who have been using Twitter for quite a while might need a refresher with some tips. I’d love to hear if anyone has any more!

      I thought the video was great too – I’d be keen to show my staff sometime!

      Thanks for your comment!


  4. Great post and I love the format (I have a list affinity). I might add to point #5 as a tip that putting a character (say a dot/period) should work. Also, on point 6, I would highlight the use of Lists as a good tip as you’ve done for point 8.

    • @ Malyn,

      Thanks for your comment and great tip! You could just put one character in front when you want to write @username. I had never thought of that.


      PS – I love lists too :)

  5. I was definitely a late bloomer when it came to Twitter. Starting to use it on a regular basis has definitely been one of the best decisions I’ve made as an educator. I’ve learned more from Twitter in the last few months than I have in any professional developments we’ve done in district in the last couple of years. I’ve been able to make connections with wonderful educators around the globe such as yourself and Kelly.

    As much as I’ve taken away new websites to work with and advice from other educators, I think what I’ve seen most from Twitter is the passion that is shared by other teachers. The dedication to students and fellow educators is truly inspiring. It’s teachers such as yourself, Kelly, Linda, Jonah, and others that I see making such a huge difference in the lives of children. All of you motivate me. All of you make me want to be better. And if it wasn’t for Twitter, I never would’ve gotten to know any of you.

    • @ Shawn,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. You may be new to Twitter but I have learnt so much from you too. The feelings are mutual.

      It’s great to see how well you have embraced Twitter. It is so true that the more you put in, the more you get out!

      Your dedication to supporting other educators and students is also inspring. I know you have many fans in 2KM and 2KJ!


  6. Kathleen,

    I vowed I would never join Twitter as I thought it would be a big waste of time. After watching you and listening to what you had to say about it, I finally jumped in. I am so glad I did because that is where I learn and connect with so many talented people. I agree with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s analogy about the river. Whenever I jump in, even for a few moments, I always leave with a useful resource.

    Thanks for encouraging me to join…you were right!


    • @ Linda,

      I have to say it is great to hear that I have helped you with something because I have got so many ideas and so much inspiration off you!

      One of the things I love about Twitter is that you, Jonah, Judy and lots of our other blogging buddies are on there. It is a great way to keep in touch informally. It’s like our own little global staffroom!

      Look forward to many more tweets from you!


  7. Kathleen,
    This is such a helpful post! Thank you so much. I am still so very new to Twitter, and after I make a goof (like retweeting before they want it to be retweeted, or not understanding that someone is promoting my blog and thinking they are engaging me in a conversation)… but this post sure helps. Thanks so much!
    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

    • @ Tracy,

      I’m so glad I could help. It was such a steep learning curve when I was getting to know Twitter. I didn’t find it very intuitive and for a while had no idea what all the hype was about!

      Don’t worry about your goofs, everyone has made them!


    • Hi Tracy,

      Good questions. I’m not sure about other platforms but I use Tweetdeck. I could be wrong but I think lists are made on the Twitter website and they’re just called columns in Tweetdeck. I only use Tweetdeck and columns.

      At the top of Tweetdeck you’ll see a + sign which allows you to add a column. You can give your column a name and choose from all the people you follow who you want to be in that list/group. So, for example I have a column in my Tweetdeck called VIP and here I make a list of all my favourite tweeters. This means I won’t miss their tweets because they can get lost in the “all friends” column with the number of people I follow. Lists can be public or private. I make mine private. You might make lists for primary teachers, teacher librarians, inspiring educators, educators in your area, teachers at your school etc etc.

      Does that make sense?


      • Hi Kathleen,
        This makes so much sense! Furthermore, I want to add that your explanation of how you use Tweetdeck for Twitter is extremely helpful. I thought it was just an iPhone app, and had never considered using it on another device.
        Once again, thank you so much!
        Kind regards,

  8. Hi Kathleen,
    Thank you for this post. I have dipped in and out of Twitter and installed Tweetdeck a few months ago but haven’t looked at it for a while. It really does take time to get your head around it (I haven’t yet) and I still feel hesitant about doing anything on it myself in case I get the etiquette wrong.
    I know people find it an invaluable professional learning resource but because it’s not easy to learn the language & protocols quickly I find I use my reader for most of my professional learning – which is how I read your post!
    You have motivated me to go back to Twitter and try harder to become really au fait with it.
    Michelle Norton

    • @ Michelle,

      You sound like me about 2 years ago. I knew that everyone was saying Twitter is great for professional learning but I just could not get my head around it! I would go on Twitter and stare blankly at the screen not knowing what to do or say!

      Don’t worry about etiquette, everyone is very friendly and there isn’t much you can do wrong. If u need help, let me know! U can always DM me with “silly” questions!

      I hope you stick with it because when it all starts making sense it’s great!


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  10. Hi Kathleen,

    I joined twitter about 6 months ago and was one of ‘those’ people who soon gave up…I just didn’t get it! Your post pushed me to give it another go and boy I am glad I did. I can now see the huge potential of interacting with educators who are doing amazing thing. People who I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

    As a fourth year pre-service teacher, I only came across you at the ICTEV2011 conference and I have gained so much from your blog already. So thankyou for inspiring and motivating me to learn as much as I can about integrating technology in the classroom. I now feel like it is not so hard afterall!


    • @ Jessica,

      Well I am so glad to hear that you have given Twitter another try. I really don’t think anyone “gets it” first go. It really requires persistence but as you have found, it is worth it!

      Good on you going to ICTEV as a uni student. That’s the sort of graduate I’d like to employ – a self motivated learner!

      See you on Twitter,

        • @ Lee,

          Thanks for looking at my blog.

          ICTEV was the name of a big meeting I went to a few weeks back for teachers who are interested in using ICT in their classrooms.

          I talked to teachers about blogging and learnt a lot from listening to what other teachers are doing in their classrooms.

          Have a nice day!
          Mrs M☀rris

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  13. Hi Kathleen,
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now & really enjoy reading it. I’m particularly interested in using twitter (it’s my professional social media reference now) and took your advice from this post. Thanks!!! As I have more questions I’ll post them to you, but am off now to familiarize myself with Tweetdeck! Thanks for your fantastic work!!!


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  22. Hi Kathleen,

    I really love to read amazing post about Twitter tips.

    Its wonderful for me because this post teach me so many latest things about twitter.

    This is my first time to visit your blog and i can learn so many latest things i always visit your blog.

    I am very thankful to you.

    Tyler Long

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