Tuesday, May 6, 2014

7 Steps to Conquer Twitterphobia

I get so tickled when I'm talking to someone who says, "I don't get Twitter."  They complain about the hashtag (for old folks, the pound sign) or why there has to be an @ symbol just to talk to someone. Their pontification of pensiveness is quite amusing.

After listening to them lament over their Twitter-phobia, I ask them one simple question.  "Do you use Facebook?"  Their answer is typically, "Well, yes", followed by, "but you don't understand.  I don't get all that # stuff."

So I'm tired of listening to all the excuses.  I want to tell all of you Twitter-phobes that there are 4 reasons you should be using Twitter. 

1. 140 characters is Facebook minimized
Think about it. No one reads your Facebook posts when you have more than 140 characters anyway, and let's face it. You don't read peoples' lengthy posts on Facebook either. Anything that you can post of FB can be tweeted on Twitter. 

2. Hashtags Connect
The great thing about Twitter is that you don't have to know everybody or be everybody's friend. The # connects people around topics of interest.  For example, #satchat (Definitely click here!!!) is one of the most popular chats on Twitter for educators. On Saturday mornings, you can find 100's if not 1000's of educators conversing in this forum about really interesting topics in education. 

3. Friends are overrated
Let's face it. When you are reading Facebook there are lots of people you tune out.  After they've said the same thing over and over for the last few weeks about politics, their family, or their personal problems, you really don't pay attention to anything they say.

Twitter is pretty transparent, and it's not that personal, which is a good thing if you're trying to learn from others. I have developed some pretty awesome contacts over my four years on Twitter, and that is because of the transparency and openness that you find by connecting with other educators who you would otherwise never meet. I don't know any of them personally, but I find my closest tweeps to be extremely powerful influences on my work. Friends influence you, but strangers stretch you. 

4. You're wanted on Twitter
There are lots of people out there that want to help people new to Twitter. Chats like #NT2T (New Teachers to Twitter) created by Joe Mazza (Click Here) and Twitter leaders such as Jerry Blumengarten (Click Here) are extremely powerful resources to all tweeps, especially those that are new to Twitter. 

Following bloggers such as Bill Ferriter, Dean Shareski, Eric Sheninger, and David Culberhouse keep me up-to-date with the latest things happening, and their cutting edge thoughts influence my life as a leader. 

Are you willing to try something for me?

I'd like for you to try these 7 steps to see if Twitter is for you.  If you still have Twitter- phobia after these 7 steps, I'll give you a complete refund. (That's a joke...)

Step 1
Set up an account. It's not that difficult. In fact, here is a quick video to help you get started. 

Step 2
Find some people to follow like the people that I just mentioned. Don't worry. They won't bite. 

Step 3
Look at the people that they follow.  Check out their bio and the tweets that they put out.  If they appeal to you, follow them. If not, don't. 

Step 4
Spend some time reading and analyzing how people tweet and use the # to communicate. 

Step 5
Find a regularly scheduled chat and participate in it either by tweeting or by just watching the hashtag. It can be a little overwhelming and intimidating, but watching how the conversation works will give you a good understanding of what Twitter is all about. See Jerry Blumengarten's Twitter Chat Schedule Page

Step 6
Find some of your friends that use Twitter, and talk to them about how they use it to learn. 

Step 7
Remember that everyone was new to Twitter at some point in their life. They were intimidated. They were nervous about sending out tweets, but they got over it, and you can too.

Conquer your Fear

Technology can be a challenge, but the more you use it, the more confident you will be with it. Twitter has changed my life as an educator. It has stretched me in ways that traditional PD never could. I have learned things that I would never have learned in any district that I worked in. I was once scared of Twitter, but after taking a chance and jumping in, I realized that there was nothing to fear but fear itself.   I hope you'll give it a go and conquer the senseless fear of Twitter.

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