TWITTER EXERCISE FOR THOSE WITH TWITTER ACCOUNT (OR WHO WANT A TWITTER ACCOUNT)
Getting started with Twitter
Are you brand new to Twitter? Sign up for an account here (it’s free). Here is a great guide from Mashable (with more information than you could know what to do with), but we’ll start you out with a few FAQs:
- What does RT mean? If you like a tweet, you can retweet it to your followers. Twitter allows you to just retweet a tweet with the press of a button.
- What does MT mean? This is a modified tweet, so used when you change a tweet in someway before retweeting it (eg: MT @someoneawesome: An amazing video of a tornado).
- What are quote tweets? A newer Twitter trend is to tweet as a quote. This allows you to save precious character space and include the entire tweet that you’d like to comment on, or RT. Try this option (also a press of a button) to add more to the conversation at hand.
- What does h/t mean? This means ‘hat tip’ and is a way of pointing out that you were alerted to the info in the tweet by someone else (eg: Today is World Outreach Day! h/t to @someone for reminding me)
- What’s a hashtag? A hashtag (#) is a way of categorizing a tweet. Just add a “#” before any word and you’ve hashtagged it. Use hashtags to get noticed and add followers, to organize tweets by similarity (like for an event), or to just have fun. We will be using the hashtag #SciFund so please add this when tweeting about the class.
As an important thing, you should use Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a free app that you can use directly in your browser to manage Twitter and that makes your Twitter experience much easier. Although you can use Twitter without Tweetdeck (or other Twitter management apps), you probably don’t want to. Tweetdeck works just on desktop or laptop computers (that is, there is no Android or iOS version of Tweetdeck).
Next, send your first tweet. Once you are set up with Twitter and Tweetdeck, send a tweet saying hello to Jai Ranganathan, (@jranganathan) and Elliot Lowndes (@Elliot_Lowndes). Remember to use the #SciFund hashtag in your tweet.
How do you send a tweet in Tweetdeck? There are a set of icons in the leftmost column, the top one of which is used to send new tweets (see 1 in the image below).
Finally, add a #SciFund column in Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to highly customize the information that Twitter provides. For example, Tweetdeck allows you to keep track of all tweets about this class. In Tweetdeck (here is a great guide, by the way), create a new column just for #SciFund tweets. You can do that very simply in Tweetdeck, by clicking the magnifying glass icon (that’s for Search) in the left column (the icon is just below the New Tweet icon). Type “#SciFund” (minus quote marks) in the box that opens, and click the blue “Add Column” button at the bottom of the box. See picture below, for illustration. Note, you can make almost anything of interest a separate column.
To get used to Tweetdeck, add a column or two of interest (using the Add Column button from above). Move the columns left and right within Tweetdeck. The point is that you can fully customize Tweetdeck to put the information you need front and center. Once you are ready, you can find your audience using the power of Twitter. Let’s do that now!
Finding Your Audience on Twitter
Find at least 10 people in your audience who are on Twitter. Those people should be tweeting regularly (inactive accounts or people who tweet once a month won’t be very useful).
How do you find people on Twitter who are in your specific audience? There are multiple ways:
- Is there a prominent person who is part of, connected to, or popular with your audience? If so, search to see if that person is on Twitter (hit the Search icon in Tweetdeck that looks like a magnifying glass that you used before to search for #SciFund).
- Search for keywords on Twitter that might be associated with or used by your audience. For example, say you are a tropical ecologist and want to connect with coffee drinkers interested in the biodiversity potential of tropical coffee farms. You might search for terms like “organic coffee”. Heck, a search for “Starbucks” might lead you to some very interesting people. Note that Tweetdeck has many search options. For example, as you can see in the image below, you can search for either tweets or user names that use your search terms. The “content”, “users”, and “engagement” options also listed on the same screen give you still more search options.
- Once you have found a person who seems to be in your target group, check to see who that person follows and who follows that person (see image below). Many of those people may well also be in your target group.
- When reading the tweets of a person in your audience, do particular hashtags seem to pop up frequently? If so, search in Twitter for those hashtags – they could lead you to yet more people in your target audience.
- After all this, are you still having trouble finding people in your audience? The problem could well be that you have not defined your audience properly. Perhaps you defined your audience too narrowly. Perhaps, what seemed at first glance to be a cohesive audience actually describes a set of people who have very little in common (and are consequently hard to search for).
For each person that you identify as an interest, be sure to follow them or write their name/username down. Congratulations! You now have a window into the minds of your audience. Now let’s discover what your audience cares about right now.
Adding your audience members to a Twitter List
The goal now is to get your 10 or more Twitter audience members in one place, so that you can easily keep track of what your audience is thinking. The ideal way to do this is via a Twitter list, which is a set of others’ Twitter accounts. Anyone can create a Twitter list and you can add anyone you like to any list. You don’t have to follow or be followed by anyone that you put on a list. The value of a list is that it allows you to group together tweets of a particular set of people or on a particular topic. If you group all of your audience members into a single list, you’ll have one place where you can keep a finger on the pulse of your audience.
There are two kinds of Twitter lists: public and private. With public lists, the people who you add are notified; additionally, anyone can see it and subscribe to your list (as it’s public). With private lists, no notifications are sent out and no one other than you can see it or subscribe. Though there are advantages to using either kind of list, we suggest you use a private list for this exercise. It will allow you to do your initial experimentation out of the public eye.
How do you create a Twitter list? In Tweetdeck, there is a “+” icon at the bottom of the leftmost column (1 in the image below). Hit “Lists” (2 in the image below).
In the box that comes up (below), you have the option of either a public or private list.
In this last box, you can add the Twitter users that you found to your new list. Just search for the users (you can use their real names or their usernames) and add them to your list.
Congratulations! You now have a window into the minds of your audience. Now let’s go back to the Week One main instructions and discover what your audience cares about right now.