Friday, September 30, 2011

Twitter Series-My Super, Top Secret Tips And Tricks For Getting The Most Out Of Twitter

This is the last in my series on everything Twitter. You can read this first on How I do Twitter PD and the second on What People Wish They Had Known Before They Started

Today lets look at all my tips, tricks and resources for getting more out of Twitter. 

I get asked all the time one of three questions:

1) Where do you find all those links you post?
2) How do you make sure you don't miss everything without staying on Twitter 24/7?
3) How do you organize everything you find from Twitter?

Well I am so glad you asked. There really aren't any secrets. It's just great resources that I use to leverage more out of Twitter to find what I am looking for or to keep myself organized.

So lets look at what I use...

1) Where Do You Find All Those Links That You Post? Well my brain is hardwired to Google so I just think of something and it gets tweeted. Ok, if only that were true.Actually a lot of what I find to post comes from the work I do. And all goes back to where I started.

Almost 3 years ago, when I created my account I was looking for a way to share the resources I was looking for with the teachers across my district. Twitter was a great and easy way to do it. And that has continued in to my current role. I get to spend lots of time looking for resources for teachers across my district. Sharing is caring so I figure if one teacher in my district can benefit there are probably others out there too.

So the long and short of it is I usually start with a Google search. And that will yield some good results... sometimes. One of my favorite resources is the wisdom of the crowd. And there is no better place for that then Diigo. With Diigo search I can look for specific tags of items that folks have shared. Most of the time I get better results there than anywhere else. And I keep my links there too for anyone to be able to find. Most every link I have ever posted ends up there, eventually. And I don't hesitate to revisit and post something I already posted a while back.

Google Reader is another place. I follow lots of different blogs on lots of different subjects. And I almost always find great content there. Sometimes it's like going down the rabbit hole. I will check out a post on one of my favorite blogs, FreeTech4Teachers, from my good friend Richard. He will post something that will lead me to something else, that leads me to something else and so and so on. I can get really deep looking for stuff, finding great content to share along the way.

A lot of what I post is retweets from other folks. Again, letting the wisdom of the crowds do the work for me to find great content. It goes back to following people for their quality, not following as many people as I can. And retweets extend the reach of your network. You and I might follow each other, but someone who follows me, might not follow you. So the RT extends the content and grows the network. It's a win-win!

2) How Do You Make Sure You Don't Miss Everything Without Staying On Twitter 24/7? Believe it or not I do sleep. Not well since I have a 2 year old that thinks 3 am is a great time to get up and play. But I do take breaks, often. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you have to be on Twitter all the time to see all the content. Keep in mind, if stuff is really good or "not to miss" lots of people will pass it around over the course of several hours/days. You are bound to see it at some point.

Hashtags are a great way to keep up with stuff. Lists are another. Both allow you to go back in time up to 2 weeks to find stuff. While hashtags are a great way to track conversations and to find people to follow, many will post resources and hashtag them so others will find them. You can then put all your favorite people in a list so that you can see their posts any time. (And if you use something like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite it is easy to set up columns to follow those things any time.)

There are tons of great websites too that will find the most important stuff for you. The Tweeted Times and are two sites that, when you connect them with your account will analyze the resources of the people you follow and find the best ones and present them to you in a newspaper format. (These are 2 more ways I find great content too.)

KnowAboutIt is new service I have been playing with. Instead of finding the most important content it gives you every link that comes through your stream along with the tweet and who tweeted it. You also get a daily email of the most popular content along with what they call Hidden Gems, content that might interest you based upon what comes through your stream.

The point is you don't have to be on all the time or feel like you have to see everything that comes by. Be smart and use these tools and let them do the work for you.

3) How Do You Organize Everything You Find On Twitter? I have a group of monkeys that does all my filing, filtering, evaluating and organizing for me. Sadly, not true. But I do have lots of tools that I use to help me keep track of everything I find.

One I have written about before is Read It Later. This is, hands down, my favorite tool. When someone posts something and I don't have time to check it out I just add it to my Read It Later list and go over it when I do have the time. The best part, I can access my list from anywhere on any device. So if I am sitting some where for a few moments I can go through my list.

Diigo, which I mentioned before for finding loads of great content is where I put my content too. I have always been a fan of Diigo because of the great stuff they offer educators but really I like just being able to save my links there and give them tags so that I and others can find them easily.

The point to all this is that Twitter isn't work. It's not supposed to take up massive amounts of time or energy. Sure you have to spend some personal capitol keeping up and growing your network but as you have seen there are loads of great tools out there that you can put to work for you to find amazing and valuable resources for you and your classroom.

What do you use? What are your favorite Twitter tools to keep up with or organize your stream. Leave some comments below.
blog comments powered by Disqus