Sunday, January 7, 2018

Twitter- Beyond the Basics

OK. So you got yourself a Twitter account, found some people to follow, shared your wisdom, some users seemed interested in what you have to say and have followed you- all seem to be in place, aside from you finding yourself asking the same questions again and again... "Why is my feed so messy?", "Remind me again why I am following this guy?!", "What was that education chat called?", and so on.

In this post, I'm going to try to help you take your basic Twitter skills to the next level. And along the way, you will get some ideas as to how to advertise yourself and gain more followers. You will also be organizing your feed so that your browsing experience is cleaner and more focused.

I am assuming you have some understanding of what Twitter is and how to use it, even on a basic level. If not, you can check out this blog post ("Getting Started with Twitter") where I discuss, explain and show, if Twitter is the right tool for you, and if so, how to set up an account and personalize it, how to follow interesting accounts, and how/why/what to tweet.

Attracting More Followers

Now that you set up your account, shared and exchanged your views with other Twitterers, it's time to think about how to broaden your audience. The magic recipe behind attracting more followers is actually pretty simple- the more you share, the more people value your ideas, and the more followers you gain. But there's a catch here- simply sharing ideas in the wide Twitterverse is not enough- you need a strategy. Here are some ways you could successfully develop your presence:

  • Share, Share, Share- Again, on the most basic level, the more you share the better, especially if it has to do with a particular topic. This being said, focus on both quality and quantity. Other users will start recognizing your name, will reply to your ideas and opinions, and would hopefully like what you have to say. So get yourself as involved as you can in different Twitter chats (for example, educators can join "EdChat", "AsiaEd", "EdTechChat", etc.). Learn when they start, what the topics to be discussed are, and share and respond to others while the chat takes place.
  • Create, Create, Create- The more you create, the more valuable you become to a profession or to a group. If you have a blog, make sure you share your posts on Twitter. If you have an interesting slideshow, a successful presentation or lesson you taught, etc.- share them with the world! For all of the above, whenever you share, make sure you use the right hashtags so that the right people find it in their searches. Also, remember that valuable ideas can be re-introduced, so feel free to re-share valuable information every once in a while.
  • Follow the Right People- Another strategy to attain more followers is to follow more people. Since many users see following others as a "favor" that should be returned, they also do the same when someone follows them (even if it means they mute that person's tweets). You can find users with similar interests through browsing particular hashtags, or even through browsing through a user's group of followers or the account that person follows.

Organizing Your Feed

So now you have a bunch of followers, and you are following some great thinkers and sharers. Once you consider yourself "an active Twitterer" it's important to make sure you see the right kind of information when you log into your account. The main problem is that sometimes, for whatever reason, the people you follow post content that is irrelevant to your needs. To address this issue you have some possible solutions:

1. Cleaning House

Your first choice is to unfollow accounts. Maybe you chose to follow someone who has been very active in one topic, but stopped sharing this kind of information. Should you still follow them? If you choose to unfollow them, which is an extremely simple procedure (see GIF below), remember that many users see following each other as a reciprocal act- "I follow you and you follow me", so if you choose this route, be aware that they may unfollow you back, which may cause you to lose quite a lot of followers.

Following and Unfollowing Accounts

2. Muting Accounts

To avoid losing followers, you can choose to mute accounts. "Muting" accounts means that these users' tweets and retweets don't show up in your feed. If they send you a direct message or mention your name, those will still show. Here's how to mute accounts:

3. Using Lists

Together with the above two organizational strategies, creating individual lists by topic, place, etc. is another way to organize your feed. Depending on your individual needs and the number of people you follow, the more lists you may need to have. A list means that you "tag" users according to a topic of your choice. For example, I have several lists- one for those who post about Educational Technology, another one for educators in Africa, one more for Educational Leaders, etc. Then, when I want to focus my browsing on EdTech, I go to the Educational Technology list, and only information from those accounts appear, filtering the content to my needs.

Notes about lists:
  • You can add as many users as you wish to any list
  • You can add users to more than one list
  • You don't have to follow users to add them to a list
  • You can create private lists (they appear only to you)
  • You can create public lists (so other users can see/use; they get a simple notification)
  • You can copy (called "Subscribe to") other users' lists (you won't be able to add anyone new though)

So how do you create lists?

Twitter's native option is to add each user manually, like this:

This is a convenient way to add users to lists if you do it as soon as you find them, but if you are a bit down the road and have too many lists and users to add, you may want to use third-party services, like TwitListManager. This is a simple and straightforward free service that integrates into Twitter. You go to the website, allow access to your account, and the next time you choose to add or remove users to/from a list, you get a window with a vertical list of those you follow, and a horizontal list of your lists (see image below). You can also reach this window by going here directly.
    • Main Advantage: Easy to add and remove users, and to create new lists.
    • Main Disadvantage: Interface is too simple. When you scroll down (users are displayed in groups of 100), you can't see the name of your lists.
Visit the resource links below for more Twitter list organizing services.

Subscribing to Other Users' Lists

Unless your list is going to be unique, there's no reason to invent the wheel. You can sometimes find excellent lists created by other users, and simply subscribe to them. As their list grows, so does yours. Check out the GIF below to learn how to subscribe and unsubscribe from other users' lists.
*** Note that you are subscribing to someone else's link, which means it does not belong to you so you can't choose to add or change the list in any way.

Getting Access to Lists and Hashtags Even Faster

Lists are a great way to filter content, which together with Twitter's Search option (for particular hashtags or users), would do the job. An excellent way to get to all this information ever quicker is to bookmark your lists or popular hashtags, and placing them in one "Twitter" folder in your bookmarks bar.

More resources

  • Attracting More Followers
    • Forbes (article)- "50 Free Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers"
    • Search Engine Journal (article)- "22 Tips to Gain More Followers on Twitter"
  • Popular Chats in Different Areas/ Topics
    • Participate (for educators)- A great live list of education-related chats that are happening every week as well as chat links to particular topics within the education field.
    • Huffington Post (for entrepreneurs)- "10 Twitter Chats for Entrepreneurs"
    • The Global Grid (for architects)- "10 Twitter #Chats to Follow in Architecture"

  • Getting More Out of Twitter using 3rd-Party Services:
    • Lilach Bullock (article)- "101 Top Twitter Tools of 2017" 
    • Brand Watch (article)- "The Top 12 Free Twitter Analytics Tools"


There different strategies to make sure you gain more followers, follow the right people, and to organize your feed. Being an active Twitterer who shares not only views but also experiences that others can learn from and apply, is an excellent way to connect with more like-minded users. Creating and managing lists, and bookmarking them are excellent strategies to ensure you find the content you need faster.

If you have questions, additional information, or suggestions for future Twitter-related posts, please feel free to share them in the comment section below or on Twitter, using @EduRonen handle.

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