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This image portrays the Twitter logo being held up by one handI’ve been using Twitter since 2007, and over that time Twitter has been my top preference for social media use. I have been hired, interviewed and offered all sorts of professional opportunities through Twitter, much more so than LinkedIn or Facebook.

I work in education, and I’m finding that more and more educators and speakers are joining up to Twitter, and using it to share content and ideas, and make connections. I also find Twitter is now my main source of news, including world news and industry news.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media platform, where you can follow other users you are interested in hearing from and where others can follow you and your posts. It is usually used as a public form of communication or broadcast, but users can “protect” their tweets, meaning that only your followers can see your posts. The majority of users however post publicly.

Short And To The Point!

You can only post 140 characters (letters, symbols & numbers) in a post or what is known as a “Tweet”. This has an advantage of keeping your posts to the point, and ensuring they will be read amongst all the other thousands of posts that followers may browse when they are using Twitter. You can also share links, photos and video.

If you want to have a conversation one to one or in a group on Twitter, (and yes that does happen), it is much like having a text or SMS conversation, it’s a short back and forth, not suitable for in-depth conversations. Private messaging also known as Direct Messaging or D.M is also possible if both parties follow each other.

Twitter is great for:

    1.     Following celebrities, politicians, colleagues, clients or leaders in your field.

    2.     Keeping up with mainstream or independent news.

    2.     Keeping up to date with news in your industry.

    3.     Making new contacts, networking and gaining media attention.

    4.     Establishing yourself as a leader in your field

    5.     Being a source of news for your industry

    6.     Collaborating in group chats for collaboration and networking e.g. #aussieED

Instant News, Fast Response

News breaks on Twitter before it breaks in mainstream media, news can be instant and on the spot. If you are going to really embrace Twitter it requires you to also respond quickly if you want to use it efficiently. You don’t have to spend all day on Twitter, you can dip in and out, but if you respond to a Tweet or a Direct Message it should be within a day, or you will be seen as out of touch and not really a part of the community; make sure you have alerts set up on your app or via email, so you know when you get a D.M or reply.

Your Profile

Make sure you spend some time filling out your profile - include a great photo avatar of yourself, unless you are representing a brand, then use your logo. Don’t stick with the default “egg avatar", or you will look disengaged and possibly like a spammer. Have a look at how others in your industry have set out their profiles and what they say about themselves, particularly users who are having success. Make your profile look engaging and interesting.

Building Your Followers

Don’t buy followers! Fake followers are a waste of time and space, and it’s easy for people to find out if you have fake followers by simply entering your Twitter "Handle" (name) into software designed to check for “fake”empty followers. Be happy to start small. Start following other users by putting a search term into twitter search of people or industries you think you might like to follow. You will soon get suggestions of people you might like to follow according to who you have already followed. A #Hashtag for your industry is a good start to find out if your industry has a presence on Twitter i.e #Education #training. When deciding who to follow, look for people who are active and have more followers than they follow. Look at their last few days of Tweets, are they simply broadcasting or being engage? If they are only broadcasting their account might be automated and may not be of use to you, unless of course they are a News outlet.

It’s Public!

Anything you post on Twitter could end up on mainstream media, so be very careful what you say. Media, often use Tweets as quotes in their news articles in response to to a story. Be aware of your public image and be genuine, human and have integrity. If you only link to articles, or post inspirational quotes, you will be seen as boring and will be unfollowed. Make sure you engage with other users and re-tweet (share) other users’ Tweets.

If you have an opportunity to attend a workshop or talk about Twitter I suggest you do, although Twitter seems simple there are many tricks to making sure that Twitter works for you.

This article was provided by Leonie Smith, the Cyber Safety Lady. For more great articles from Leonie check out her website here or you could follow her on Twitter here.