How To: Get Started on Twitter

| June 24, 2010

So, this Twitter thing. What’s the point of it and how could it affect you as a music educator?

The first thing you should know is that Twitter isn’t just about letting people know what you are doing. Frankly, people don’t really care so much about that, just as much as you probably don’t really care about what other people are doing. In fact, Twitter has changed its tagline from that to something a lot more relevant: “Twitter is a rich source of instant information. Stay updated. Keep others updated.”

The key word is “instant.” The New York Times has an account, and if you add them to your follow list you’ll know what’s going on without having to wait for them to write an article and post it on their website. (or, you know, publish it in print). Same goes for the Huffington Post and other news sites. Or, if you want to know what is going on about a certain event or occurrence, search for it on Twitter.

Again, how does this impact you as a music educator? Well, as previously mentioned on this blog, there is a healthy music education presence on Twitter that you may not be aware of. The #musedchat is a great way to share new ideas about music education and ask others in the field questions. Check out that link for recaps of previous chats and to get an idea for how it works. Also, Twitter is one of the easiest ways to network with other music educators and get answers to your questions. It truly is a lively online community!

So how do I do this? Here are some recommended steps…
1) Sign up on the Twitter homepage.
2) Make me aware of your username by following @justine_robin and/or @TCmusicED.
3) Build an instant follow list of who’s who in music education by following this list of people.
4) Put something in your bio about your involvement in music education so people know that you’re new to the network!

Wait… how do I actually use this thing?
1) When you’re logged into the Twitter homepage, use the text box to post.
2) If you see something in your follow stream of tweets (all the updates from the people you’re following… they will show up below the text box) that you want to reply to, over over the tweet with your mouse and hit reply. Then type it in the box and post it! (@–username– is Twitter speak for directing a reply at someone.)
3) If you see something in your follow stream that you want to repost to share with people who are following you, hover over it with your mouse and select Retweet.
4) You can also send direct messages (private) to users. Go to a user you’d like to message, then click on the little gears icon below their name and picture and select direct message.

What should I use for this thing?
The web interface is fine for starters. If you’d like more options try Brizzly and if you’d like even MORE options try Tweetdeck.

So, about that chat…
Every Monday night tune in for the chat! Here’s what I’ve found is the best way to get involved. Experiment with options though!
1) Go to Tweetgrid.
2) Select a 1×2 grid (or more, depending on what you want).
3) In one of the grids, type in #musedchat. This will automatically refresh with everything people are saying in the chat.
4) In one of the other grids, type in @–your username–. This will automatically refresh with eveything people are saying to you.
5) At the top, put in your username and password so you can automatically post.
6) Add #musedchat in the hashtag field so you don’t have to type that in all the time.
7) Say hi to the chat and get involved! Same rules for replying and retweeting are the same in Tweetgrid.

Any questions? Drop me a comment here or on Twitter!