The Anatomy of a Tweet

“The hardest thing about Twitter is getting started.” (David Truss, 2012)

Sometimes it’s hard to see the value of Twitter to your learning until you really learn the language and build the connections online.  This week we will head down that path and focus on the mechanics of the many Twitter tools that are available to users.

In 2012, David Truss created this image that clearly outlines some of the “language” of Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 5.49.21 AM
Shared by David Truss, in Twitter EDU:

Today we will focus on the “@” symbol.

“@” is used to identify people by their twitter account.  When we use “@” in a tweet, the user we mention will have this tweet directed to their “notifications”.  Anything that happens on Twitter that involves your “@” account will appear in your notifications.  Here is a sample of the @ossemooc notifications for this morning.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.48.24 AM

When we tweet, our 140 or less characters goes out with millions of other tweets.  Even though anyone can read it, the chances that someone actually will read it are very slim.  To help our sharing find its way to those we want to target, we “tag” our tweets with the users we want to read it, and then it filters into their notifications stream where it might actually be seen.

This also allows us to have conversations in real time on Twitter.

For example, if a tweet is posted, we can “reply” to it, which means that it will begin with @fryed or whatever account you are replying to.

Here is a demonstration.  On our Twitter page, we choose “Home” to see our Twitter feed.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.37.46 AM

We then scan through the feed for interesting posts.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.39.24 AM

We decide to look at the Leadership link suggested by Ontario Principal James Cowper.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.40.55 AM

After reading the post, we decide to share it with our followers.  We do this by choosing the “retweet” option, in green below.  @Cowpernicus (James Cowper) will get a notification that we retweeted his post.  @Cowpernicus will be part of the retweet.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.41.21 AM

We might also want to reply to James Cowper to tell him what we think of the article he curated for us.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.42.33 AM

See how the replyScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.42.52 AM automatically starts with @Cowpernicus?  Twitter adds this for you when you choose the reply option.  Now we can go back an view our own @OSSEMOOC Tweets.

When we choose “Tweets and Replies” we will see the Reply we sent to the @Copernicus account.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.43.30 AM

This tweet will now appear in “Notifications” for James Cowper.  He is much more likely to see it* than if we just Tweeted without using his account.

Your Notifications are updated with an alert whenever your Twitter account is mentioned.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.57.27 AM

*It’s important to note that this works because people have a notification feed that is not overwhelming (in contrast to their home feed).  It is not good practice to indiscriminately tag people in your posts and photographs because your are trying to self-promote your work.  Use the @ symbol sparingly to draw attention to items that are important to the work of others, not to “show off” your own work.  This is a fine line that you will learn to respect, in the same way that we all respect the culture of any community of practice.

Learning Activities:

  1. Find an interesting resource or article online.  Tweet the link to @fryed, and/or to a colleague on Twitter.
  2. Find a tweet that interests you.  Choose “reply” and tell the person who shared why you like the resource.  Thank them for taking the time to share.
  3. Find a useful resource or an item of interest on Twitter.  Retweet the tweet and then find the retweet in your Twitter stream.  Were you able to find it?  Do you need help with this?

Remember, you can get help by emailing 42krunner at gmail dot com, or by tweeting your question to @fryed.


David Truss: Twitter EDU

(on Twitter: @datruss)

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