Saturday, January 23, 2016

Six Ways To Build Your PLN Using Twitter

Six Ways To Build Your PLN Using Twitter

Since becoming active on Twitter over the past year and a half, I have noticed some best practices that users with a large following seem to have in common. There are many benefits to having a larger professional personal learning network (PLN). More connections equals more information coming across your Twitter feed. One of the most life changing benefits is that if you follow inspiring and innovative educators, many of them will follow you back. This always leads to powerful idea sharing and sometimes even collaboration! Using Twitter in this way will also allow you to build an audience for your library program (or classroom, niche, etc). This is an asset to your organization, especially if you are sharing your best practices.

Before you can attract followers in your profession, be sure to have a photo of yourself on your Twitter account. In addition, complete your biographical information. It has also been recommended to me (by one of my Twitter mentors) that you also include hashtags that you frequently monitor and a URL for your blog or website. These items make you look authentic to potential followers.

Let's examine some of the methods that tend to draw Twitter users to follow you:

1. Tweet Useful Material.  No one wants to waste their valuable time. Try to only tweet or retweet beneficial material. Give your followers the best worth possible in 140 characters or less. Share great links to videos, blogs, quotes, or websites that are in your niche. If you are helping others, you are reaching the goal!

2. Tweet Inspirational Material. One of the practices that has given me more followers (and retweets) is the sharing of inspirational quotes. Everyone enjoys being inspired, and great quotes are a key way to do this. Refrain from sharing complaints since being negative will not help build value to your followers in most cases. If you see an inspirational tweet you like from someone you follow, share it by retweeting it to your followers.

3. Be Sure To Follow Back. When someone follows you, follow them back if they appear to be a genuine professional in your niche. I avoid Twitter users that seem to be spreading spam or inappropriate material. A quick look at their feed will let you get an indication of their authenticity.

4. Follow People That Have A 1:1 Follower Ratio This shows that they probably interact with their followers. As a rule, I don't follow Twitter users that don't follow (roughly) the same number of people that follow them. There are exceptions to this, of course. If a user is extremely popular, I follow them since celebrities and highly sought after professionals in my niche rarely follow back immediately (or sometimes ever). If they are sharing valuable information that can help me grow, I follow them!

5. Interact With Your Followers.  If you have a follower that tweets something you like, favorite it, retweet it, or quote them. If you read a blog post that is helpful, share it. Be sure to send the author words of encouragement. If someone tweets you with an inquiry, respond to them. Interaction is what social media is all about; embrace it!

6. Participate In Twitter Chats.  I have noticed that many professions are having chat discussions on Twitter. This has been the single most important activity that has helped me find more people to follow in the education profession (niche). It has also allowed me to gain more followers with a common mindset. There are Twitter education chats everyday at nearly every hour somewhere in the world. Go here to open a link showing a schedule of all Twitter Education Chats. This practice has literally changed my professional life. By participating in chats, you will find innovative and inspiring educators all over the world. After a tiring day at work, evening education chats have frequently rekindled my excitement by helping me remember to keep my focus student centered. I have been fatigued and ready for the weekend; but following an inspiring chat, I'm recharged and ready to make a difference for students the next day! The interaction that occurs in a chat is exhilarating! The connections that are made with these inspiring professionals will most certainly help you improve and grow (regardless of the niche).

Final Thoughts

These simple practices will help you find followers and continue building a strong PLN that will constantly recharge your education "batteries". A powerful PLN will keep you up to date on the latest professional development, best practices, education professional development books, apps, devices, and more. It will also give you a network of friends that you can ask for help and/ or professional advice. The benefits to you and your students are infinite. Before long, your interactions on Twitter will impact you and your learning community because you will become an agent of change in your building! Start tweeting, and start growing!


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Read this if you need help with Twitter hashtags and chats.

Why I'm adding Twitter Analytics to my library statistical reports.

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