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Need help getting started on Twitter? We’ll have you signed up, tweeting, and building a network of users who share your interests in no time. Follow the steps outlined in the getting started video above. Or, if you’d rather read along than watch a video, just use the steps listed below:

1. Sign up: Go to Twitter and click the large, yellow sign up button. Enter your information (the shorter your username, the bettermost people use iterations of their real names) and sign up. You’ll have the opportunity to browse interests, find friends, and search for friends who are already using Twitter.

Next, create a profile. When you finish signing up, you’ll land on your Twitter home page. At the top of the screen, click Settings. Then click Profile to edit your profile—the information displayed in the right sidebar on your Twitter page. Be sure to fill out the Bio section and list your primary research and professional development interests. This will help other Twitter users identify you as someone who shares their interests. When you’re done, click Save.

2. Build your network: Once you’ve polished your profile, it’s time to find Twitter users to follow. When you follow someone, their Twitter messages, more commonly referred to as tweets, automatically appear on your Twitter page when you log in. Click Find People at the top of your screen to search for email contacts and friends. When you find someone you want to follow, hover over his or her Twitter name, then click Follow.

To build a network of educators who share your research and professional development interests, search for users who are tweeting with hashtags specific to your areas of interest. Hashtags are short labels preceded by a # symbol that indicate that the tweet is about a certain topic.  When you search for a hashtag, anyone who’s posted a tweet with that label will show up in your results. Find Twitter users who are posting interesting tweets and follow them. Here are some hashtags you should know about:

  • #edchat – education chat
  • #elemchat – elementary chat
  • #ellchat – english language learner chat
  • #edtech – educational technology
  • #ece – early childhood education
  • #cpchat – connected principals chat
  • #ntchat – new teacher chat
  • #gtchat – gifted and talented chat

3. Start tweeting: Once you’ve followed a few users, you’re ready to start tweeting. One way to get started is to simply retweet, or re-publish, tweets that you like. You can do this by clicking the retweet button when you see a Twitter message you like.

You can also generate tweets by typing your thoughts into the 140-character space at the top of your Twitter home page. Some popular genres for tweets include inspirational quotes; links to interesting articles, videos, or blog posts; and questions that you need help with. If you need a response from your followers, be sure to add Need help! before your request.

One of the very best ways to start tweeting is to join fellow educators for Twitter chats, or scheduled online discussions. During chats, users with a common interest (education, for example) converge on Twitter at the same time to discuss a current issue related to the common interest. Chat participants add the chat hashtag to the end of all their tweets during the chat. For example, edchat happens every Tuesday at 12 pm EST and again at 7 pm EST. Users who participate in edchat add the hashtag #edchat to the end of their tweets during the one-hour chats.

To participate (and find great educators to follow), simply log in to Twitter at 12 or 7 pm EST and type #edchat into your search bar. Check out the conversation, identify interesting Twitter users, and follow them. Join the conversation by replying to tweets, or simply adding your thoughts to the mix (don’t forget the hashtag). In my experience, participating in chats is one of the best ways to identify Twitter users who share your interests and will be valuable members of a research network.

Still have questions? Looking for someone who can point you to useful followers? Contact me (@Lauren_Learning) or any member of the Imagine Learning Twitter team. We’d be more than happy to point you toward Twitter users to follow. Here’s a list of our handles with brief descriptions of our interests. If you find that one of us shares your research and professional development interests, follow us and join our community.