Some thoughts on how I use Twitter

There was an #ELTchat last week about how to use Twitter in class. I was hoping for a different topic, so I didn’t stick around, but a tweet (I forget who by) about how teachers seem to be on Facebook more than on Twitter caught my eye. I think that was the gist of it, anyway.

So I thought I’d do a quick post on what I use both of them for, but primarily Twitter. When I say ‘quick post’, we’ll see how that goes. I might get it out before Christmas. 😛 I’ve actually been meaning to do a post like this ever since David Harbinson’s here, and, well, it’s been two years since then.

3460078384_556182c1fb_b

fjomeroa: Twitter (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter. You might not say so just by looking at my tweet count, at least compared to people who have 50K+ tweets, but I do a lot more reading of what others have shared than sharing my own thoughts. Then, of course, a considerable chunk of time is spent on debating whether I should respond to a tweet, composing a message and finally deleting it. Or possibly sending it, which is less frequent.

My bio says, “ELT, elearning, highered, teacher training, translation. Partial to the island of Vis since the pre-tourist era”.  I settled on that when I started using Twitter regularly, which was about two years after I signed up. Management used to be in there as well, as a nod to the language school I technically still own. I’m most likely to follow (back) people with similar interests, and if they’re not spelled out in the bio, I’m probably not going to take the trouble to dig deeper, e.g., try to figure out their tweet to retweet ratio, or see how many people we follow in common.

In addition to accounts that can loosely be grouped as work-related, I follow some that are Croatian. Croatian teachers (primary, secondary, private language schools) are generally not on Twitter, or if they are, they have token accounts. They’ll have 30 tweets and they last tweeted six months ago. I suspect they’re mostly on Facebook. So the people I follow are either in higher ed, journalists, or in(to) politics or history. There’s also the occasional ex-student. I enjoy reading what they have to say, even though I probably won’t rt/comment on anything overtly political. My politics are my business. And also I’m too chicken to give trolls an incentive to come after me.

I also follow some Belgian accounts, mostly newspapers/magazines. These are in French, and serve the dual purpose of letting me keep up with the language as well as the news in Brussels and the rest of the country. Although, to be honest, if the accounts are in French, the news is not likely to be about Flanders. I don’t usually rt or comment on these. I suppose it would be excellent language practice, but I would need to be a lot braver to do it.

One of the things I really like about Twitter is the random character of what shows up in my timeline when I log on. Obviously, things were even more random when they didn’t have the “While you were away” feature, but even so, if you follow around 1,000 people, there’s always something unexpected. Even if a lot of them don’t tweet regularly. I don’t have a rule for what I rt/comment on; it has to be something I find interesting and/or relevant, plus I generally need to think of at least one person who follows me who will also find it interesting and/or relevant. I sometimes draw their attention to it by cc’ing them in on the tweet.

Because of this (liking the random factor), I don’t have any lists. I’m sure lists are really effective if you want to make sure you don’t miss updates from accounts you find more important/interesting than others, or to categorize those you follow, but I think that I would then tend to check some lists more than others and everything would be more organized. Although, who knows – I might like it that way too.

Occasionally I check hashtags, and I have these columns set up in my Tweetdeck: #ELTchat, #ELTpics, #corpusMOOC (which I half-did once and keep meaning to retake) and #EDENchat. Having done #ELTchat, which is sort of chaotic in a good way, I tried #EDENchat, but they’re way too organized with Q1 and A1, etc. There are a couple of other hashtags I could set up columns for, and probably will at some point if they keep coming up in my timeline often enough.

Some things I don’t like about Twitter are… well, there aren’t many, really. I don’t like it when people only plug their stuff, and especially when they don’t even do it manually. Like, I don’t have time to waste on Twitter, but you will have time to read about whatever it is I do. I’m not discounting the possibility I feel that way because I was never smart enough to schedule constant social media updates when I was trying to promote my school. I also don’t like annoying engagement updates. “32 awesome people followed me last week. Do you want to feel awesome? Get Social Media Engagement App.” I use Social Media Engagement App too. I don’t shout about it. Here I am discounting the possibility I feel that way because I wasn’t followed by 32 awesome people last week.

I was also going to say how I use Facebook and why I prefer Twitter, but as there is actually a chance of posting this today if I stop now, I guess I might save that for another post. I would be interested to hear what you use Twitter for, what you like or don’t like about it. If you have an account but don’t really use it, why is that?

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Some thoughts on how I use Twitter

  1. Interesting post, Vedrana! I’ve noticed how there are a lot more teacher groups on FB now, but I honestly don’t really like it. FB was a space for me to chat with friends, now it’s also becoming PD and well… it’s just much. Oh, and completely agree about the social engagement app. Annoying! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, for me, too, FB is more about family, friends and contacts from outside ELT. Or if they’re also teachers, I know them because we’ve worked together. In fact, there are relatively few people I added on FB who I’ve never met in real life. I sort of tend to think, what if I share family pics, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with people I’ve never met (and don’t even regularly interact with on social media) seeing those. 🙂 I guess I could customize the audience, but it seems like too much work. Thanks for the comment, Laura!

      Like

  2. Cheers Vedrana for this very interesting post.

    I used to use Twitter for promoting my learner website (hence my ludicrous “must be God’s gift to teaching”-type handle. Sumall and updates like that annoy the hell out of me. Otherwise, Twitter rocks. I used to use Tweetdeck, now I just do it plain through the browser. Much more relaxing for me.

    There are far more bells and whistles on Twitter than I need but it does the job nicely. The only thing I’ve ever liked more was del.icio.us (the thing that turned into Yahoo Bookmarks eventually) because it ended up all spam links and less interesting stuff bubbling up from contacts. Anyway, I digress.

    Thanks again.

    Marc

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marc,

      I just realized I never explained my handle in the post and I was going to do that! I think yours should work really well for promotion purposes – I wonder what learners think? I only use Tweetdeck when I’m following #ELTchat or checking hashtags; normally I use the Android app most of the time. De.licio.us – is that like Diigo? I recently signed up for Diigo having read an article by Sandy Millin (it sounded very useful), but have been too lazy to actually start using it.
      Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hana Tichá

    Hi, Vedrana. A little bit off-topic first… I’ve been going through an anti-fb period lately, and I even tried to deactivate my account. The reason behind my decision was that to my taste, I was spending too much time there – completely unproductively, I should stress. To be honest, it was also a test to find out if I’d miss it or not. Result: I don’t. But I’m weak and they’re cunning. They won’t let you get away easily. But at least I’ve managed to cut down on the time spent there. And guess what! I’ve finally caught up on some of the household chores I was putting off for ages.

    Anyway, unlike Facebook, Twitter is something I’ve never thought of quitting. I find it a much safer and friendlier space. It’s also less obtrusive, I guess.

    Thanks for an interesting post. It’s always nice to look behind the scenes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this part: “I’m weak and they’re cunning.” 😀 Sums up FB’s success nicely in one short sentence. Good to hear you’re spending less time on there, though, especially as this was the point. I’m not unhappy with how much time I spend on FB, so haven’t thought about leaving, but now you’ve brought it up you’ve made me wonder if I’d miss it? I think I might. There are some people I really care about on there.

      Thanks very much for the comment, as always!

      Like

      1. Hana Tichá

        Oh, let me add that there are lots of people on FB I’d miss. But most of them are on Twitter or I read their blogs, so I wouldn’t lose touch completely, I guess. By the way, once you want to deactivate your account, the first thing they tell you is that you’ll lose all your beloved friends. Most users will probably succumb to this type of emotional blackmailing. I even had tears in my eyes (no kidding). Anyway, this post was about Twitter, wasn’t it. 🙂 Sorry for the digression.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post, Vedrana. I agree on finding excessive automated self-promotion a bit distasteful on Twitter, but I’ve also never been brave/brazen enough to do it myself, either. I’ve never paid attention to other people’s tweet/retweet ratios though, and I do wonder why that’s ever of interest to you?
    Finally, I completely agree with secretly loving the chaos of #ELTchat as opposed to more structured chats – it’s a good skill to go through the transcript afterwards and pick out the pertinent points I think!
    Anyway, thanks for the reflection 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for the comment and for the share on Twitter. 🙂 About the tweet-retweet ratio – I read somewhere that when someone follows you, you could check out their tweets and see how often they contribute original content as opposed to rt’ing what others say. And the author of this article said that they never follow back people who have more rts than tweets. I remember thinking that was unfair – I could have just been following a conference someone was tweeting from and rt’ing more than usual, for example.
      Totally agree about the practice we get summarizing #ELTchats. Hope the new job is going well!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m trying to use Twitter more now, although I do find Facebook easier because there is no character limit. My posts are mainly aimed at learners of English, although I occasionally throw in something just because I think it’s interesting!
    I think that using Twitter is a good way to find people working in education or more generally with languages.
    The news stream moves really fast, so I think it’s ok to recycle useful, evergreen content once in a while, but I hate the way that some people use automation to bombard us with content every couple of hours. I unfollow the account if I see this happening. Networking is about interacting with real people and I think that those who rely too heavily on automation forget this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kirsty,

      Yes, the character limit can be tricky, but I’m sometimes surprised at how many words I can do without. 🙂
      I’ve noticed that some teachers use Twitter to reach out to (potential) students, and I’m curious how well this works in terms of interaction. Our school used Facebook, and although we did have a pretty good post reach it was kind of difficult to get students to interact with the content.
      Thanks for very much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have got new work through Twitter before, though I have found Facebook to be more productive in this respect. I’ve also made connections on Twitter that have indirectly led to work being sent my way.
        I like to have a presence on both platforms, but I find that people interact more on Facebook.
        On Facebook, I have a page and a closed group. I work with adults, some of whom don’t want to be open about the fact that they want to improve their English. These people may be more likely to participate in a closed Facebook group, where only members can see what’s posted, than Twitter, where everything is public, unless you make all your tweets private.
        In terms of reaching out to potential students, I think that content marketing is likely to be more effective than direct sales tweets. I don’t think that people go to Twitter in order to look for an English teacher, but if they like your blog articles or podcast episodes, they may be more open to paying for services or information products.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. FB for family, friends, photos of flowers. Twitter – mostly ESL teaching, but also marketing, science, art, my city.I’ve learned a lot. I enjoy randomness. Surprise me! FB getting predictable..too much pushing stuff it thinks I’m interested in (with the result I get bored…)
    Abandoned Diigo and Delicious. If I want to bookmark I tweet to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Vedrana,
    interesting post. It’s nice to get to see how other people perceive Twitter and its potential for networking. I’m quite on the “reading side”, too. I spend more time on TW than it might seem if you look my tweets, but I tend to read a little bit now and then, and, amazingly, there’s always something worth spending a couple of minutes on. I find lists very helpful for that, because there is too much self-promotion and noise sometimes and it hides brilliant posts that perhaps reach less audience, and that’s a pity (by the way, I don’t see anything wrong with self-promoting, just sometimes a bit annoying when it’s too much)
    I’d like to interact more, but I’m actually quite inconsistent, and I think it’s a question of habit -to me it feels a little weird when I’ve been away for some time.
    I have seen a few groups on FB, but I think taking my PD and learning network to FB too would be a little bit too much to handle.
    Twitter has been a great discovery for me, otherwise I don’t know how I’d have met so many interesting people with different voices and experiences 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anabel,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. Re your last sentence, I saw a tweet a couple of days ago that said something like, “I’ve learned more in my x months on Twitter than during the whole time I was doing my MA.” Of course, that might also be saying something about the content of the MA program, but I think I understand the sentiment.
      I’m sure lists are helpful for filtering out the self-promotional stuff. Thanks for pointing that out. I usually either unfollow or mute accounts that seem to be only about themselves, but creating a list of those that may be a little more reticent seems like a great way of making sure you don’t miss interesting posts.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s