Day 57 – Why Tweet?

23 Aug

Today a friend posted on facebook: I’m wondering what the point of twitter is??? I think I am missing something. Almost two years ago when I first joined twitter, this is exactly how I felt too. In fact, in my first year on twitter I tweeted exactly six times. Although I’ve been on twitter for twenty-two months now, I actually ‘discovered’ it four months ago when I first participated in #storyfriday, and discovered just what hashtags are and what they could do for me.

At this point, I feel I need to ask forgiveness if you’re a techie reading this, as I’m sure you don’t need an explanation. So, please bear with me as I’m betting there are some people reading this who don’t know what a hashtag is. And, even if they do know that the # symbol before a group of words all strung together is a hashtag, they still might not know its function. The ‘tweet’ in twitter is the equivalent of a status update in facebook. A hashtag in a tweet allows you to categorize that tweet so other tweeters can find your comment on the subject given in the hashtag. So, if I was to add a hashtag to this blog, it might be #howtotweet.

“Big deal, why would I want to do that?” you might ask.

Well, it allows you to participate in a global conversation. For instance, if you search in twitter for #earthquake, you would find oodles of tweets about the earthquakes that happened along the eastern seaboard today. You’d see many from people experiencing the quake, people checking on loved ones, some from news agencies and lots of links to stories and photos.

When my friend asked about the point of twitter, this is what I told her: I follow several teacher/authors and other teachers of my subject area. I follow news organizations that post links to stories that my students might find interesting. I follow other bloggers and writers. The stuff that people post, mostly people I don’t even know, is invaluable to me professionally and personally. Although I follow a few friends on twitter, facebook is better for staying connected to friends and family.

You can follow conversations by using hashtags. I sometimes participate in #storyfriday. Every Friday, Writer’s Digest hosts a collaborative short story writing party. It’s similar to what we used to do in junior high language arts class. The teacher starts with one sentence and it gets passed around the class for each student to add a sentence and the story builds. Except, we use the hashtag #storyfriday to connect all the sentences so we can see them in one place.

I also save articles, links, poems, etc. that I find to use later with my classes or retweet something my colleagues might find interesting. In order to really understand it, you really have to play with it. Try following a few celebrities or politicians you find interesting and it’ll help expand your use. Over time, I’ve learned to unfollow people if I find they’re just posting garbage. Twitter is fabulous, but if you’re trying to use it like you use facebook, to connect with family and friends, you will likely find it more frustrating than anything else. Facebook and twitter are two very different social media platforms, and I use them for two completely different reasons. If you decide that twitter is for you, or you already use twitter, you can find me @wildmudturtle. Follow me, and if you decide you don’t like what I post, unfollow me, I won’t be offended.

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One Response to “Day 57 – Why Tweet?”

  1. mwboogie August 26, 2011 at 7:41 AM #

    This is a nice simple explanation that really helped me understand. Still not sure if I’ll tweet, but I understand it more now. Thanks.

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