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

Lists

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”

adding-to-lists

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.

Liking

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.

Moments

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.

hootsuite-screen-shot

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 6: Advanced content

2017-02-11_18-18-33

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

how-to-tweet-a-photo

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.

media-link-in-twitter-profile

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: https://twitter.com/uoftlibraries/status/821424335709728768

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:  https://twitter.com/jessecarliner/status/830948474569027585

Here’s a a video clip someone tweeted from a conference: https://twitter.com/JohnnyQuinnUSA/status/822158302138273794

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: https://twitter.com/uoftlibraries/status/798221139696877569

And, of course, we live broadcasted the intro class of the 10 Days of Twitter last week: https://twitter.com/UofT10DoT/status/854027547625041920 

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-video

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: https://twitter.com/jessecarliner/status/830812983819382784

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.

how-to-tweet-a-photo
Now you are ready to show off your excellent skills as advanced tweeters!

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

Retweeting

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.

how-to-mention

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! http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=8224

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)