Day 10: Class live chat!

Live chat today: 2:30

Today’s questions:

Q1 Tell us something you’ve discovered using Twitter over the last 10 days. Best hashtags? Favourite accounts? New way of working? People to talk to?

Q2 From one of your classmates:


Q3 What frustrations or reservations do you have about using Twitter?

Q4 More broadly, have you come to see Twitter’s purpose or role differently in the last 10 days?

Q5 What questions do you still have about Twitter?

If you’re interested to see what a live chat with a larger #UofT10DoT class looks like, you can check out the Storified live chat from our last grad student iteration of the class here.

Housekeeping: After the class, we’ll tweet out and email a link for an evaluation form. We look forward to your feedback on #UofT10DoT!

Bonus topic: Altmetrics

We mentioned altmetrics — metrics based on social scholarship — in the Day 1 introductory session, but didn’t come back to it over the 10 days. You may want to check out the Altmetrics page in the Library’s Research Impact guide.




Day 9: Chatting & teaching


Today we’re looking at:

  • live chats on Twitter
  • organizing our own #UofT10DoT Day 10 live chat – don’t forget, it’s tomorrow (April 28), at 2:30 – we’ll go ahead even though there will be just a few of us
  • teaching with Twitter

Live chats

A live chat on Twitter (aka a Twitter chat or tweet chat) is a conversation which takes place synchronously, in real time. A live chat may of course break out spontaneously, but the term more often refers to an organized affair, with moderators or leaders and a pre-set time, topic and hashtag. It may be a one-off or a regularly held “meeting.” The moderators generally use questions or prompts (typically four or five) to get the conversation rolling, and may ask the group for suggestions beforehand.  Here are two examples of regularly scheduled chats:

  • MedEdChat – it takes place on Thursdays, so you could see it in action tonight if interested
  • #withaPhD – “for graduate students, academics, and anyone else who has or may wish to have PhD experience.”

Livechats can be fast and furious, but a great way to discuss, make new contacts (and get followers) and share experiences. A key rule to remember is use the hashtag–otherwise your contributions to the conversation will be invisible except to your followers (yes, this seems obvious but it’s easy to forget in the rush to reply). After the fact, the chat is often Storified, with the link tweeted out so anyone interested can catch up with what was discussed. Here’s an #acwri chat on writing journal articles. Of January’s #DLNchat [Digital Learning Network] on building cultures of experimentation in higher ed.

When you arrive in the chat, say hello (unless you want to lurk – not applicable to the #UofT10Dot chat, though). If you’re chatting with strangers, you may be asked to introduce yourself, say a few words about who you are, where you’re from (in an academic conversation, often your institution) and/or why you’re there. The moderators will ask the questions one at a time and allow the group to respond.

How do you find out about live chats? Moderators promote Twitter chats in advance, so you may find them through your regular Twitter feed or through particular hashtags. You can try searching on “Twitter chat” in the Twitter search bar, though you will likely have to wade through a lot of irrelevant material. And of course, you can always ask!


#UofT10Dot live chat: April 28, 2:30

  • Moderators: @EvelineLH (tweeting on @UofT10DoT) & @JesseCarliner
  • Questions: do you have any questions you’d like us to discuss as a group? Please tweet your suggestions. We’ll post the questions in the Day 10 blogpost and again during the live chat.

Further reading

Twitter chats – why are they useful and how do they benefit academic staff

Top #Twitter chat tips for academics

… and Twitter chats can be a site for research!

Teaching with Twitter

You’ve now all experienced taking a workshop and learning via Twitter. We’d love to hear what you thought of the experience–possibly in the live chat? We’ll also do a follow-up survey.

If you think you might want to use Twitter in your own teaching,  there are some suggestions to inform and inspire you below. However, remember this caution, discussed on Day 1:


Tweeting in higher education: Best practices (EDUCAUSE)


Gradhacker: 7 Things I Learned from Teaching with Twitter

Teaching examples

MOOC MOOC: Critical pedagogy – uses weekly live chats (#moocmooc)

The Twitter essay – includes the prof’s instructions to the class (the prof in this case wants students to make their entire argument in 140 characters).

Twitter in the Classroom: Early African History – ”How did it go? What did I learn?”

Teaching with Twitter: How the social network can contribute to learning – “The important question to ask regarding e-learning is: What does an online space make possible by way of teaching that my class couldn’t do face-to-face?”

Figuring out the link between Social Media and What I do as a Biology Prof

This led to the instructor developing a real-time chat activity on Twitter, called The “Future of Ecosystems” Twitter Chat

English 503: The Twitter Assignment – students tweet questions and ideas on readings, characters, plot development, in an English class



Day 8: Apps for managing the conversation

Today we’re looking at

  • Other Twitter features
  • Third party applications

Keeping track of all the interesting people you follow, and keeping up with your own tweeting, can be a challenge. Today we’ll look at a few Twitter features that can help you out, and some third-party applications (i.e. tools made by companies other than Twitter) that can take your tweeting to the next level.

Today’s assignment:

Try at least one tool we’ve discussed below and tell the #UofT10DoT stream what you think! Or suggest one that you think your classmates might like to know about.

Within Twitter


Sometimes you will want to focus on certain groups, or check in on some people only sporadically. This is hard to do in the undifferentiated stream of tweets on your Twitter feed, where they are all mixed in together. Why not put them into lists?

Lists can act as subsets of your twitter feed. You might divide the people you follow as:

  • Colleagues or services at your institution
  • Colleagues and peers across the country/world in a particular field
  • Professional or funding bodies
  • News accounts
  • Social, personal or fun accounts

Twitter has simple instructions for making lists here. Lists can be private, so only you can see them, or they might be public so you can share them with others. You might create a list to bring together the attendees at a workshop or conference, or to focus on the top accounts on a particular topic which you recommend other people should follow. You can share a list by giving people the URL of the list page, or let them view the lists you’ve created on your profile, where they can subscribe to your lists too. Do make sure you add a description, so others can find and subscribe to it.

Unfortunately, Twitter discontinued the ability to search for lists. You can find lists by checking individual profiles for lists that they may have created.

Creating a list from scratch and then trying to fill it is a bit of a pain—there’s no way to add a bunch of people at the same time, so it’s a lot of clicking around. If you’ve got a low follower count right now, we’d recommend creating a few lists anyway and adding accounts as you find them.

You can add an account to a list any time you’re on their profile page. Just click the gear icon and choose “Add or Remove from List”


While we’re on the topic of managing people, you can also block or report people you don’t want to interact with using this menu. See more on blocking users here.


By now you may have figured out Liking. It’s less than a retweet, but more than just reading a tweet. People often like a tweet to bookmark it for later, but they also do so to indicate approval, sympathy, or appreciation (the tweeter will be notified), or in some cases simply to indicate that they’ve seen it.

Like a tweet by clicking on the little heart icon below it.

how to like a tweet blogpost day 8

Likes will be stored in your profile, so you can always come back to them later. Likes can also show up in the tweet streams of your followers.While they don’t show up in your twitter feed, anyone else can check your likes from your profile too, so liking is not private.


The Moments tab, accessed from the top menu, may be more or less useful to you, depending on what you’re looking for (looking to procrastinate? You’ll love it!). It features headlines and popular news stories that you might want to hear about. As noted yesterday, you can also create your own Moments.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.23.58 AM

Third party applications

The beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity as a platform. However, sometimes you need a bit more functionality. There are some third party applications created by other companies as add-ons to Twitter, to help you out with some of the things about Twitter which you may find a bit overwhelming.

Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter, and is a good way to manage more than one account, if you have more than one  (for personal and professional use, or perhaps an individual one and an official one on behalf of an institution). You can use Tweetdeck to split your Twitter stream into columns divided by accounts and create columns for notifications, feed activity, etc. It will import any lists you have made on Twitter too.

Tweetdeck screenshot.JPG

Hootsuite is similar application to Tweetdeck, but it allows you also to import other social media accounts such as Facebook, and it is also available as an app for mobile devices. You can sign up using Facebook, or if you prefer to keep Facebook separate from your professional social media use, you can sign up with an email address. It will then ask you to add your chosen social network accounts. You can then add streams of content similarly as in Tweetdeck, and tabs for the different social networks. Hootsuite has a quick start guide to help you set up your account.

Again, you can set up columns for hashtags, lists, notifications, or accounts.


In the U of T Libraries Hootsuite dashboard, we have columns for mentions, our own tweets, scheduled tweets, other U of T Library twitter accounts, and a column for other U of T accounts. We also have columns programmed in to monitor tweets about Robarts Library, Gerstein Science Information Centre, and “U of T” Library.

A couple of other bonuses: When retweeting, Hootsuite will ask you if you simply want to retweet or if you want to quote or copy and edit the tweet. On Twitter, you need to copy and paste the tweet if you want to edit it, which can be fiddly; this does it automatically. With both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you will not see the advertising ‘promoted tweets’ from companies you don’t follow!

Pocket is a bookmarking tool. If you find a webpage via a link in Twitter (or anywhere else), you can save it to Pocket, and then return to it later on. On your desktop computer, you can download and install it into your browser, so you can simply hit a button in your toolbar to save a webpage. When you use Twitter in a browser with Pocket installed, or if you have installed the Pocket app on your smartphone or iPad, a ‘Pocket’ option appears alongside the other options of ‘reply’, ‘retweet’, ‘like’ etc, so you can save it right from the tweet instead of having to open the link. You can also access Pocket on the web, if you’re on a computer which isn’t yours, or where you can’t install it into the browser.

Digg Deeper will deliver the main stories shared by the people you follow on Twitter in an email. To sign up, you’ll need to add your email address, and then connect it with your Twitter (or Facebook) account. This is especially useful if you’re not carrying around a tablet or mobile device and would like to see a summary of what’s been discussed in your feed.

Twuffer allows you to schedule tweets in advance. Why might you want to do this? Perhaps you’re presenting a paper and you’d like to nudge your followers at the conference to attend it. But are you going to remember to tweet in the hour before your talk, when you’re trying to find the room and set up your slides? Schedule that tweet beforehand! Or perhaps you’ve got some brilliant insights you’re dying to share, but it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. By the time your followers wake up, your brilliant thoughts will be buried far down their stream. Write them out, and schedule them for when you know your followers will be online (psst, use Tweriod to find out when the best time is!)

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to help you use Twitter more efficiently. Today’s post was only intended to give you a taste of what’s out there.

Further reading:

Meier, F., Elswiler, D. & M. L. Wilson. “More Than Linking and Bookmarking? Towards Understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour.” Proceedings of the Eighth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 2014. Note that the term “Favourite” is now “Like.”

(We know you are busy! If you’d prefer, here’s the BuzzFeed round-up of this same article: Why We Favourite Tweets, According to Science)

Day 7: Twitter and conferences

mla17 pic.PNG

Today we’re looking at

  • Tweeting at a conference (and before and after the conference)
  • Twitter for conference organizers

Today’s assignment:

  • We want to know what you think about Twitter and conferences. Have you already used Twitter at a conference? Do you think you will in the future? Have you followed along via Twitter even though you didn’t go? Do you have more conference tips for the group? Please let us know (with #UofT10DoT of course).

Tweeting at a conference

Using Twitter in a conference setting can be incredibly rewarding. You’re in a physical space surrounded by people interested in the same things you are, but it’s not always easy to meet the right people or to get the conversation started. Twitter allows you to connect with others at a conference with very little formality. See a tweet in the conference stream that intrigues you? Engage with that user! Once you’ve got the conversation started, meeting in person becomes a lot easier. Pretty soon you’ll be starting conversations with, “I follow you on Twitter!” like a pro. Conferences also present you with an opportunity to find more people to follow and get followers yourself.

Important tip: expectations around Twitter usage and Twitter etiquette at conferences can vary from discipline to discipline, conference to conference. For example, some scientists are concerned about not-yet-peer-reviewed results getting coverage. Others may be concerned about sharing research that is sensitive in nature. If you’re not sure about Twitter etiquette in a particular context, ask! Or wait to see what others are doing. We list some further readings on conference etiquette at the end. Please let us know if you know of others.

Planning to attend

As you’re looking through the conference program, look up panelists you’re interested in hearing and start following them now. You may even want to send out a tweet indicating that you’re looking forward to their session.

Tweet says

Giving a talk? Let your followers know you’ll be speaking, and point them to the abstract or program if it’s online.

Tweet says:

Figure out the conference hashtag and save it, either as a search (if you’re using the Twitter app), or as a stream if you’re using TweetDeck or HootSuite (we’ll get to these tomorrow). Most programs and websites list the hashtag, but if you can’t find it, try searching the full conference name on Twitter and see if anyone’s tweeted about it yet. You can also follow the conference’s Twitter account for more formal announcements.

At a small conference where there hasn’t been a hashtag assigned? You can start one! Remember to keep it short so it doesn’t eat too far into the 140 character limit. The organization’s acronym + the year (or last two digits of the year) often make the most sense—but try searching that hashtag to see if it’s busy in another context first. #NBAmeet may mean “National Biology Association meeting” to you, but your conference stream is going to get very, very full with basketball fans!

Particularly at a large conference, you may want to add a second hashtag for the session number.


At a Conference

There are lots of different things you can tweet during a session. You might tweet:

  • Quotes from the presenter that resonated with you
  • Screenshots of the presenter’s slides (but note this is sometimes frowned upon!)
  • Links to papers or websites the presenter has referenced (if you know them)
  • Points you disagree with and why
  • What you’re going to take away from the session
  • Other sessions you recommend based on this one.
Screenshot of tweets where the speakers' name begins the tweet, thus keeping it from the general feed
In the top tweet Jacqueline is linking to a video that the speaker played for the audience. In the bottom tweet, she is simply repeating what the speaker said, because she thinks it’s important! Notice that she is starting the tweets with the speaker’s username, so they won’t wind up in her general stream. This is your decision.
Screenshots of people suggesting one session based on having attended another-
In the top tweet, Sarah is recommending a website for those who attended a particular session. In the bottom tweet, M.J. is suggesting that those who liked session 327 should also come to his own session on a very similar topic.

Again, be careful of what’s appropriate in your particular context.

Outside of sessions you may want to attend at a conference, you may want to organize some kind of meet-up with people you meet on Twitter. And when Twitter friends meet up, it’s of course called a Tweetup! (People [‘peeps’] you know from Twitter? They’re your tweeps!)

Particularly if you’re in a new city, you might be hesitant about meeting up with a group of strangers.  This is why people using their real name, a photo of themselves, and a school and program of study is really important for building community. But do always meet for the first time in a public place!

Screen shot of a tweet that says:
A meet up has been organized, with a Facebook invite to house more details. People may be asked to RSVP on Facebook so the organizer can make a restaurant reservation.
Anne is indicating she’d like to meet up with anyone she knows from Twitter who’s at the conference.


If you’d like people to tweet about your session, put the conference hashtag and your @username on the first slide. This way audience members know who to credit. If you don’t want people to tweet (or photograph your slides, etc.), say so.

If you’re going to be giving a short talk where you mention lots of other talks or websites, you might want to schedule a couple of tweets to go out into the hashtag during your talk (scheduling tweets is on the agenda tomorrow). That way people following along will see the resources around the time you mention them. Or you may just want to upload your slides or paper to your personal website and schedule a tweet to go out at the end.

After the conference

Conference hashtags are typically quite busy for a few days after it wraps up. Presenters are sharing their session’s slides or notes, and attendees may be reflecting on what resonated most, or what they’re most excited to apply to their own work.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 9.18.11 PM
Kate is sharing a website that contains information from the talk she’s already given
Tweet that says:
Anita has written a blog post about the conference she attended the week before.

Running a conference

Sometimes, you’re on the other side of the table! If you’re running a conference, here are some things to do to encourage tweeting:

  • Figure out how you, as organizers, should be using twitter. Who, if anyone, will be doing the official conference tweeting? Do you want to promote certain sessions? Do you want to use Twitter to gather feedback? Will you be Storifying later?
  • Pick a hashtag. Put it in the program. Put it in all the tweets about the conference. You may also want to get a separate account for the conference, especially if you want to tweet both as the conference organizer and as an attendee with opinions about particular session.
  • Ask people for their twitter handle when they register, then print it in big letters on their badge. This makes it much easier for attendees to recognize people from their only network
  • If the wifi requires a password, consider printing that on the back of the badge. Nothing is worse than arriving at a conference across the border (i.e. the data-usage danger zone), not knowing anyone, and not knowing how to get online and meet people!
  • You’re probably going to be running around all day. Use scheduling tools to your advantage! Have a keynote speaker at 2 o’clock? Schedule a reminder tweet for 1:30. Schedule tweets prompting attendees to give feedback at the end. Map it out, schedule it, and forget it.

Further Reading:

Live Tweeting at MLA: Suggested Practices Ernesto Priego, Digital Scholar, City University London.

Let’s Have a Discussion About Live-Tweeting Academic Conferences Jon Tennant, Geologist, Imperial College London
(Note that he thinks it’s never okay to photograph and tweet conference slides. A counter argument is that the nature of the material on the slide should determine this, and the wishes of the presenter. Of course, it’s always a judgement call.)

When Climate Scientists Criticise Each Other Paul Matthews, Mathematician, University of Nottingham (a bit removed from #UofT10DoT, but fascinating!)

Tweetup Etiquette Huffington Post

Day 6: Advanced content


In Week 1, you got some practice in composing messages 140 characters at a time – and possibly got frustrated at the limitations. Today we’re looking at some techniques to expand your messages.

This includes:

  • How to write longer
  • Curating Twitter content
  • Moving beyond text: Tweeting photos and images, video & GIF’s

Your assignment: try one new way to expand your message! And of course tweet it out with #UofT10DoT.

How to write longer

If you want to write substantially longer, Twitter is still not your best option. Write somewhere else, like a blog, and link to it. Twitter and blogs go beautifully together.

You can go beyond 140 characters of text however.

Option 1: Take a screenshot of a longer text

Write your text somewhere else (Word; text messages; Notepad … anywhere, really). You may also want to highlight or comment on something you’ve had published elsewhere. In either case, take a screenshot of the text. You then can add the screenshot as an image to get around the 140-character limit.


You can also take a screenshot of someone else’s text, say if you want to comment on it. If you do this, make sure you attribute the quote or include a link to the original. This is academic Twitter, after all. Tracing citations is important!

Option 2: Twitter essay (or thread or tweetstorm or Twitter rant)

A tweetstorm or thread or Twitter essay is simply a series of tweets on the same topic, allowing you to expand on your ideas while still reaching a Twitter audience. Ideally each individual tweet is still written in a pithy style.

Important tip: thread your tweets so they stay together! People in fact get annoyed if you don’t do this.

  1. Reply to your own tweet.
  2. Delete your handle, type your second tweet. Twitter recently took away the necessity for the first part.
  3. Repeat as necessary. You can string together as many/few tweets as you want.

Reading: Jeet Heer, I didn’t create the Twitter essay genre. I just made it popularA Twitter essay about Twitter essays, but published in the Globe and Mail.

Heer distinguishes between tweetstorms and Twitter essays, the latter being more artful. But you don’t actually have to write like Jeet Heer to try it out! (You may want to follow him, though: @heerjeet).

Numbering your tweets is optional, but can be helpful in orienting your readers, particularly in longer threads. Numbering also has the advantage of signalling to your readers that there’s more to come. You can put the number at the beginning or end of the tweet.

Here’s an example of an unnumbered thread that’s a bit of a rant (click through to see the entire thread):2017-02-11_17-39-56.png

Here’s a more formal, numbered essay that starts by highlighting someone else’s text:


Curating Twitter content

If you’re curating Twitter content, you’ll want to pull together content from various sources into some kind of cohesive whole or narrative. Once you’ve created your narrative, you can tweet out the link.

Storify is an app that allows you to gather tweets from people or hashtags, and to place them on a storyboard in chronological order. You can just add tweets to the board (as well as Facebook posts, Instagram, RSS feeds, or YouTube), but it’s a richer experience if you give a bit of context and include multiple perspectives. Here’s a Storify-ed live chat: Why Do We Do History in Public?

Word to the wise: It’s generally a good idea to Storify soon after an event when tweets are still easily findable. Once tweets have been captured they’ll remain, but only as long as users keep the post up, i.e. don’t delete them. It’s not a preservation strategy!

You could also try Creating a Twitter moment. Thanks to a graduate students from a past 10 Days of Twitter class, we even know how to cite these.


Going beyond text

According to the cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can increase the impact of your tweets and extend your tweets beyond the 140 character limit by tweeting other types of content like photos and other images, GIF’s, and live and recorded videos.

Tweeting photos and images

Photos and other images can lead to higher rates of retweeting and engagement, and your tweet is more likely to be noticed in your followers’ tweetstream. Twitter’s algorithm also preferences tweets with images and other media and your tweet is more likely to be included in your follower’s tweetstream.

You can include images with your tweet from either your desktop computer’s hard drive or from your mobile device camera roll by clicking on the camera icon below the text box in the lower left hand corner of the tweet composer interface.


You can include up to four photos in one Tweet. Pictures do not count towards your 140 character limit (in the past they did). When you use your mobile device to upload a photo, you can edit the image by clicking on the pencil in the lower right hand corner of the image, including filtering, applying emojis and other characters, and cropping.

Editing photo twitter.PNG

If you are uploading images from your desktop’s hard drive, they must be already edited. You can also shoot photos from within the Twitter app on your mobile device, if you have allowed this in your settings, by selecting the blue photo camera icon underneath the text box in the tweet composer.

Unlike Instagram, sharing photos is not Twitter’s primary purpose. Your images are not the primary content for searching and are not prominently featured on your profile page. To view what photos have been tweeted by a user, click on the Twitter profile’s “media” link.


Rules for good photography apply on Twitter, however, considering the shelf life of a tweet (approximately 20 minutes), there is no need to invest an excessive amount of time getting it just “right.” Photography on Twitter is definitely much more “real” and casual, then on Instagram, but the better the photo the greater the chance of retweeting and engagement. Tweet photos that are in focus, well lit, and have good composition.Your text can contextualize or comment on the photos, or the images can support or illustrate your tweet.

You can also create a Twitter photo essay, as you would a Twitter text essay (see above). Here’s an example of a Twitter photo essay on how a book gets to the shelf at the library that was created for the U of T Libraries account:

Tweeting video

Videos, like photos, can increase your impact on Twitter and allow you to extend your communication options beyond text. Videos can be up to 140 seconds in length. There are so many possibilities for using video in your tweets! You could tweet video from an event, gallery or concert, from a research trip, conference, or just the weather. Here’s an example of a video tweet about a February snowstorm:

Here’s a a video clip someone tweeted from a conference:

You could also live broadcast (if permitted) from a lecture or concert, through a gallery, a stroll through an historic part of town, geology fieldwork– the sky’s the limit! You can share some of your expertise or experiences that you think would be of interest to your twitter followers.  Here’s an example of a live broadcast of Celtic harp recital at Trinity College Chapel by a U of T Librarian:

And, of course, we live broadcasted the intro class of the 10 Days of Twitter last week: 

Who knows, perhaps you could even deliver a talk or a class session via a Twitter live broadcast?!

By using appropriate hashtags, your live broadcast will be discoverable by those interested in your topic. You have the option to leave the video up to be viewed after the live broadcast or you can delete it anytime.

How to tweet a video

You can tweet videos in four different ways:

  1. You can upload the video from your desktop’s hard drive.
  2. From your mobile device, you can upload a video from your camera roll that you have already shot in the same way that you can upload a photo– click the camera icon in the tweet composer and then select the video that you would like to share.  
  3. You can also record the video from within the Twitter mobile app by clicking on the video camera icon in the tweet composer (directly to the right of the photo camera icon).
  4. You can broadcast live through Twitter by clicking on the “Live” video icon. With live video, there is not a limit on length.  


Tweeting with GIF’s

Many of you have already discovered the joys of tweeting with GIF’s. For those of you new to the world of GIF’s, a GIF is a very brief, looping video. Here’s an example of using a GIF to reply to a tweet:

GIF’s are a great tool to add an exclamation mark to the textual content of your tweet, and they will definitely stand out in the twitter stream of your followers. Just a word of caution, GIF’s may not always be appropriate for all tweets and interactions. Some users have very strong negative feelings about GIF’s. Use your best judgement when deciding if and when to use a GIF and with GIF selection.

The easiest and most direct way to tweet a GIF is to the use the built-in GIF selection tool in the tweet composer interface, directly to the right of the photo selection link. Twitter provides access to a large number of GIF’s organized by mood and sentiment.

Now you are ready to show off your excellent skills as advanced tweeters!

Day 5: #Hashtags

2015-02-04_15-10-10“Hashtag” declared 2012’s word of the year

A hashtag tags a tweet with a keyword that categorizes it and makes it more findable. It’s Twitter metadata. You can click on the hashtag in a tweet to bring up other tweets on the topic or you can search for hashtags in the search box. In Twitter itself, you cannot follow hashtags the way you follow people, but there are apps that let you set up feeds for as many hashtags as you like (as you’ll see on Day 8, Apps for managing the conversation).

Anyone can create a hashtag. A hashtag needs to be a single word, preceded by the # (hash) symbol, with no spaces or other characters. It doesn’t need to be a real word – it can be an acronym of some sort, like #UofT10DoT — but it needs to be understood, known or guessed by the people it’s relevant to. It could even be several words run into one (which counts as one word) such as #RuinADateWithAnAcademicInFiveWords (this sums it up) or #overlyhonestmethods.


Generally, though, above anything else it should be short, so that it doesn’t use up too many characters. Tip: if you’re using more than one word, adding in capital letters can make the hashtag more readable, e.g. #ShePersisted. It doesn’t make a difference to searching the hashtag – as football fans annoyed by bird pictures found out.


Finding an already established hashtag can sometimes be tricky, since abbreviations are often used. You may need to search several variations before you hit on the right one. You can also check out people in your field to see what they use. And check out these 11 essential hashtags for academics.

Hashtags are crucial to live-tweeting, that is, tweeting in an ongoing way about a live event, from a news happening to a hockey game to a conference session. The hashtag brings all the relevant tweets together in a rolling feed. We’ll talk more about live-tweeting when we talk about Twitter and conferences. And hashtags can be great way to build community.

Hashtags can also be used as commentary (or meta-hashtag) on the main message of the tweet:2015-02-04_15-03-54

Hashtags can make powerful statements:

#blacklivesmatter voted 2014’s word of the year in US

Here’s a hashtag that offers a challenge:

#ShareMyThesis – in 140 characters – this was actually a competition (now closed). Anyone want to give it a go? How about summarize your latest article in a tweet?

Trending this week: #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear – not precisely academic, but no doubt applicable!

Today’s assignment: find some hashtags that are useful to you and tweet about it! Or contribute to a discussion in your field using a hashtag that’s relevant to your research. If you’re having trouble finding the right hashtags, tweet about that too.

And since it’s Friday, you  may want to check out #FollowFriday, though you’ll probably find the academic equivalent,  #ScholarSunday, to be more useful. Friday also has #FridayReads and others.


Tweeting using a topic hashtag is a great way to get noticed. Are people (outside the class) replying to you or following you?

Reminder: no “class” over the weekend. We’re back on Monday. Happy tweeting!

Further reading:

Hash – Susan Orlean in the New Yorker

History of #hashtags (infographic)

The weird and wonderful world of academic Twitter (mostly about hashtags)

Day 4: Retweeting & @messages/mentions

You’ve sent some tweets, followed people and hopefully gained some followers of your own. Some people prefer to listen more than they tweet, which is fine—but the more you say about your interests, the more other Tweeters will know to direct relevant things your way. Sharing and conversing is a way of fine-tuning your twitter feed as well as providing useful information to others.

Today we’ll look at:

Sharing other people’s content

  • Retweeting
  • Quote Tweeting
  • Retweeting etiquette

Messages & mentions

  • How to send a tweet directed to someone in particular
  • How to reply to tweets
  • Why and how you might converse in public
  • How to send a direct (private) message


To use Twitter effectively to promote your own work, you need to update frequently with interesting content to gain a following, and you also need to reciprocate and promote the work of others. Retweeting fulfills both of these goals. Retweeting is a bit like forwarding an email, but to everyone who’s following you. They see the content of the original tweet, who it came from originally, and, maybe a contextualising comment from you. By doing this, you’re performing a valuable service:

  • to your followers, by sifting the stream of information available to them, filtering out what’s potentially interesting to them, and also by making them aware of potential new contacts they can add to their network.
  • to the people you follow, by amplifying their message and spreading it outside their network (and also possibly putting them in touch with new contacts)
  • and of course, you’re displaying to others that you’re well connected to interesting and important people, and that you are a discerning judge of what information is interesting and significant!

To retweet a message, simply click the ‘retweet’ button at the bottom of a tweet. The grey number next it tells you how many times it’s already been retweeted.

How to retweet screenshot chocolate logic

The message will then appear in your followers’ twitter streams as if it appeared from the original sender, even though they may not follow them. There will be a small notification about the tweet stating that this has been ‘retweeted by @yourname.’ You can see in the retweet above, that the tweet was retweet by ‘UofT10DoT.’

Quote tweeting

But simply retweeting doesn’t say much about why you’re sending out into your feed. Is the tweet funny? Is this news item something you’re pleased with? Is this observation an annoying misconception you see too often?  

Sometimes you’ll want to add commentary to a tweet. When you hit retweet on a mobile device, you will have the option to either just retweet or to quote the tweet and add a comment. On the desktop version of Twitter, the retweet function defaults to quote mode, but you can decide to add a comment or not.

Quote tweeting screenshot chocolate logic

In this example, I am commenting on a retweet of a @AcademicsSay tweet and mentioning @EvelineLH to ask her a question about the tweet. 

If you only want to retweet a URL link that someone else has shared, you can just paste the URL into a new tweet add ‘via @name’ or ‘HT @name’ (HT stands for ‘hat tip’ or ‘heard through,’ depending on who you ask).

Quote Tweeting etiquette

Be judicious when quote tweeting. Ask yourself if you are really adding anything to the content for your followers. Be particularly sensitive to quote tweeting tweets of persons from marginalized communities. When you quote tweet, any likes or Twitter activity will be assigned to you and not the original tweeter. To be an ally, use your platform to amplify the voices of others by retweeting them and letting them speak for themselves.

How to send a tweet directed to someone in particular

Sometimes you just want to send a tweet out into the world, but sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone—visible to other followers, but written to catch a particular person’s attention.

This might be because you are replying to one of their tweets, or because you want to ask them a question, or perhaps you’ve found an article you think they’d like, or want to tell them how much you’re enjoying their article!

You don’t have to follow someone to tweet at them, and they don’t have to follow you to respond.

To tag someone in a tweet, type out their username, preceded by the @ symbol. For example, to call Eveline’s attention to your tweet, you would include ‘@EvelineLH’ in your tweet.


Of course, there may be times when you don’t want a wide audience to see the interaction, if it’s not going to be understandable out of context, or of interest to them but just cluttering up their feed, and in these cases, you can just start the message with ‘@’.

The @ symbol can only be used to tag people; you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at.’ Tweeting ‘let’s meet @6pm @cafe’ – it will treat these as an @message, and it’s likely that someone, somewhere, will have chosen @6pm or @cafe as a handle!

To see @messages directed at you, click on the tab marked Notifications with the bell icon, at the top of the screen.

Screenshot of the notifications button

They will also appear in your Twitter stream, but you may miss them there if you’ve got a busy feed!

You can choose to receive an email when someone @messages you by choosing Settings > Email Notifications in the top left hand menu.

Some example tweets that tag or address a specific person:

  • hey, @jessecarliner, your presentation was interesting! Have you read @amirightfolks’s work in this area?
  • Giving a talk at UofT next week. @EvelineLH – are you around for coffee? Would be great to meet up!
  • Reading @libgoddess’s chapter on information literacy: some intriguing ideas!

This is another reason to keep your Twitter name as short as you can – it uses up some of the 140 characters! (Note to self, after this iteration of #UofT10DOT, shorten my twitter handle!-JC) Being able to reply to users is what makes Twitter a medium for conversation rather than merely a broadcast platform. These conversations are Twitter’s real strength.

How to reply to tweets

To reply to someone, or to ‘tag’ them in a Tweet, type out their username, preceded by the @ symbol. For example, to let me know you’ve mentioned me, you would include ‘@jessecarliner’ in your tweet. If you’re replying to a tweet, clicking the ‘reply’ option which appears in grey in each tweet, will automatically insert the person’s @name at the beginning of your your tweet.

With the exception of high profile celebrities with thousands of followers, Twitter users generally check their notifications and respond to many of the tweets sent to them. And the same should go for you! If you start a conversation, or ask a question, be expecting a response in your own notification feed. Being able to reply to users is what makes Twitter a medium for conversation rather than merely a broadcast platform. These conversations are Twitter’s real strength.

Why and how you might converse in public

A small but important point is where you place the @username. If you are responding to a tweet, using the ‘reply’ button, then Twitter will automatically begin your tweet response with the @username, and you can then type the rest of your message.

screenshot of someone replying to a tweet

screen shot of the start of a twitter reply

However, if the very first thing in the tweet is someone’s @username, then only that person and those who follow both of you will see it in their newsfeed. If you want the tweet to have a wider audience, then you either need to put a full stop in front of the @ sign like this: .@jessecarliner OR you could include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence, for example: ‘hey @scholastic_rat, your blog post about Twitter is super helpful!’

Why might you want a wider audience to see conversations between you and another user?

What’s in it for them:

  • It’s polite to acknowledge them if you’re retweeting something they’ve said, or to let them know if you’re commenting on their work
  • You are drawing attention to them and their work to people who don’t already follow them – they get publicity and new followers

What’s in it for you:

  • You gain a reputation as a polite, helpful, knowledgeable and well-connected professional
  • You may also gain new followers or make new connections

What’s in it for your followers:

  • They get to know about someone’s work which they may have been unaware of, and a new person to follow
  • They are offered a chance to contribute to the discussion too, and thereby gain new contacts and audiences
  • If replying to someone who’s passed on useful information to you specifically, it’s helpful to copy in their reply to your tweet response, in case your followers are also interested in the information.

How to send a direct (private) message

Remember that Twitter is a very public medium, and whether you @message someone or not,  your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile. If you really want to send a message to just one person, but don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, you can send a Direct Message, which is private—but you can only send DMs to people who are following you. You can view and send DMs from the little mail icon. DM’s are not limited to 140 characters like tweets.

screenshot of a DM notification

(If you want to practice sending a Direct Message, feel free to contact me! If I’ve accidentally failed to follow you, let me know!).

Today’s Assignment:

  1. Send a couple of @messages to people you follow. Ask them a question, draw their attention to something, comment on something they’ve tweeted! Reply to anyone who messages you, as long as they appear genuine and professional. And remember to send me (@jessecarliner) an @message to tell me how it’s going!
  2. Take a look at your twitter stream and see if you can find tweets you think your followers might be interested in – funding opportunities, calls for papers, an item of news, a new blog post or publication someone’s tweeted about, a comment you agree with…and start retweeting!

Further reading: 

Twitter for Economists (slideshow in PDF)