Tip 23: Twitter, the Karmic Learning Tool

When Oprah joined Twitter, everyone started claiming that Twitter was all over. But those of us in the know, know that we’re just getting started. Not tweeting yet? Kineo’s new VP of learning design, Cammy Bean, tweetingly invites you aboard.

You probably already know that Twitter is the 140-character microblogging platform. It’s where people talk about what they had for lunch. So what? But I have to tell you that sometimes it really is interesting to hear what Jay Cross is having for lunch in Palermo or Rome.

But Twitter is way more than that. Twitter is a powerful platform for resource sharing, community building and connection. It’s a gift-giving economy: you give, you receive. Karmic learning.

Read on for some tips on how to maximize your own Twitter experience…

Just Do It

Go on. Sign up. And use your real name. Don’t hide behind something cute like bugsybean. People want to connect with actual people.

Post a picture. If you’ve just got the default Twitter logo, you don’t seem committed. That, and people want to know what you look like. They just do.

Don’t lock your profile, unless you’ve got something to hide or have some real valid reason. Keep your profile unlocked so people can consider whether to follow you or not.

Follow With Care

Don’t just jump on the celebrity bandwagon (though that can be mighty fun to start with), but instead follow people in your area of focus. Find a couple of people who you know and respect that are already on Twitter. Follow them. See who they’re following.

Do a Twitter search on a keyword. Try it. Go to search.twitter.com and type in elearning or pickles or moodle. See if anyone’s saying anything interesting. That one is? Click on her name. Is she tweeting a lot of interesting stuff? Follow her. (Advanced tip: type in your company name and then subscribe to the RSS feed so you can closely monitor your brand. Whoa.)

Don’t get your feelings hurt if people don’t follow you back, but chance are most people will follow you back when they see that you’re adding something of value.

Start Tweeting

Reading an interesting article? Tweet it. Have a topical question? Ask it. See a question that you know the answer to? Answer it.

Minimize the number of tweets you post about lunch or that hang nail you’ve got or your hangover. This might be interesting to your followers once they get to know you, but hold off at first.

Be Real

If you’re actually a robot it’s OK to sound like one. Otherwise, sound like a person. Inject your tone into your Tweets. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: people want to connect with and follow actual people. Feel free to make jokes, although don’t feel like you have to constantly be whinging around witty zingers. This can be exhausting and may cause huge productivity losses at work.

Stick with It

Don’t sign up, tweet a couple of times and then walk off saying, “I just don’t get it.” Most of us probably said, “I don’t get it”. Stick with it. After a few weeks, once you’ve found your groove, you just might start to see that Twitter magic. If you’re not seeing the magic after a good solid trial, then OK, cut your losses and move on.

So go ahead, be a voyeur at first. It’s ok. No one’s watching (well, except the people you’re following, but they’ll be delighted). Follow @cammybean and @kineolearning to get started.

For more on starting with Twitter, including practical info, links to great resources and tools, check out this post from @pistachio: Getting Started with Twitter.

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