Intro to Twitter (optional)

Microblogging is a quick, short variation of blogging that lets participants easily share tidbits of content, including text, links, images, audio and video. There are many different microblogging tools, each one unique in its own way. Here are a few examples: Tumblr, Dailybooth, Friendfeed, identi.caPosterous, Rememble, and Plerb. Various microblogging tools have come and gone over the last seven or eight years, but in recent years, the most familiar microblogging platform has been Twitter, and this is the tool we’ll play with here.If you’re already a confident Twitter user, please skip to Activity 4. But if you’re brand new to the tool or still learning, please work your way through the information and activities at whatever pace feels good to you. There are eight activities in all, but most will take only a minute or two. Please be sure to leave yourself time for Activity 8, in which you’ll share a few thoughts in a blog post.If you would prefer to work through this module from a printable version, please click here.


Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows participants to view and publish short bursts of information  called “tweets”. Users follow other users, creating personalized streams of information and voices that they experience each time they visit their Twitter account from a PC or mobile phone. Many users enjoy Twitter primarily to gather updates from people and organizations they are interested in. But Twitter can also be used as a real-time communication tool. You can see both of these uses in the following video (1 min, 49 seconds):

Video Introduction to Twitter (Click to Play)

You may still be unsure about this whole Twitter “thing”. Maybe you’ve tried Twitter but didn’t really “get” it. Or perhaps you’ve only heard about Twitter from other people, who’ve told you it’s all about celebrities and their fans, or about people telling what they ate for breakfast. The short blog post, Twitter is Stupid (Until You Realize . . .) may help you think a bit differently about all of that. One thing’s for sure: the only way to find out if you like Twitter is to give it a try!

Activity #1: Create a Twitter Account. If you already have a Twitter account, that’s great! Please skip through this activity and we’ll meet up with you later. If you don’t have an account, please start here. Signing up for Twitter can be a bit confusing. You might also be wondering about how to remain anonymous on Twitter. If you’d like step-by-step (printable) instructions for setting up an anonymous Twitter account, please take a look at How to Create a Twitter Account. Or head straight to the Twitter welcome page to begin.

Congratulations! You are now on Twitter! For a quick tour of the two main interfaces in Twitter—your homepage and your profile page—please take a look at the video (4 minutes, 21 seconds) below. Or, if you’re ready to dive in, go ahead and begin exploring on your own.

Video Tour of Homepage and Profile Page (Click to Play)

Activity #2: Adjust Your Setting. Feeling safe and comfortable in Twitter is important! Take a moment to adjust your settings in these two important areas: “Account”and “E-mail Notifications”both accessible from the gear icon at the top right of your home page/profile page or from the “edit your profile” button on your profile page. To allow you to participate fully in this module, please do these two things: 1) In your “Account” settings, make sure the “Protect my Tweets” box is unchecked for now (trust us!). 2) In the “E-Mail Notifications” settings, please make sure all of the top five boxes (under “Activity related to you and your tweets”) are checked. For more information about your Twitter profile and account settings, please visit the Twitter Help Center.

Okay. The Twitter heavy lifting is now done. Time to have some fun! You’re already following at least a few people or organizations on Twitter, but how do you find and add additional Twitter users to your timeline? Twitter’s help document, How to Find People on Twitter offers three ways to do this. Please take a quick peek at the instructions, then try Activity #3.

Activity #3: Find People. Find three new Twitter users of interest to you, using each of the methods described in How to Find People on Twitter. Use the “Follow” button to follow any that you like. Then take a look at your timeline. Can you figure out how to “unfollow” an account?

Another way to discover interesting Twitter content and users is to search for keywords and hashtags in the search box that appears on both the homepage and your profile page. A hashtag is a combination of characters preceded by the # symbol (again, with no space behind it). It is used to label a topic and filter a conversation. Try Activity #4 to see how keyword searching and hashtags work.

Activity #4: Search with Keywords and Hashtags. Enter the term “libraries” in the search box on your homepage or profile page. Take a look at your results. Now enter the hashtag #BLPlayground (or #blplayground—capitalization doesn’t matter). What do your results tell you about the function of hashtags? Finally, try this hashtag: #uklibchat. Can you figure out what special function this hashtag serves?


A good way to get comfortable with Twitter is to start “retweeting” content that you find interesting. When you “retweet”, you make it clear to other people (especially your followers) what you are interested in. You also promote other people’s content. There are two ways to retweet a tweet. Please take a quick look at How to Retweet a Tweet for instructions, and then try Activity #5.

Activity #5: Retweet a Tweet. Go to your timeline and look for something you find interesting. Click on the “Retweet” button. You’ll be asked to confirm that  you want to retweet the content. Pause to think about this, then press “Retweet” again. Now go to your profile page and take a look at your “Tweets” section. Who’s photo appears in front of the tweet? Next, go back to your homepage timeline and find a tweet that you’d like to share with your Learning 2.0 Playground colleagues and mentors. Cut and paste the tweet content into your “Compose a Tweet” box. Now add our hashtag (#BLPlayground) in front of the tweet, followed by RT (for Retweet). If you’d like to add a short comment, place it before the RT. Now go to your profile page and take a look at your “Tweets” section again. What do you notice about the top tweet?

Once you get comfortable with Twitter, you will probably want to get in on the action by composing your own, original tweets! It’s okay if you’re nervous about this, and there’s no rush. When you’re ready, see Twitter’s instructions for How to Post a Tweet and then give Activity #6 a try!

 Activity #6: Post a Tweet. Use the “Compose a Tweet” box to share an inspiring thought or quote with your Learning 2.0 colleagues and mentors. Be sure to add the #BLPlayground hashtag! If you’re feeling really adventurous, try adding a link or a photo to your tweet.

Congratulations once again! You are now well on your way to being a full-fledged Tweeter. There’s just one more basic function you’ll want to try, in order to participate fully in Twitter: replying. Twitter allows you to reply directly to a tweet, which is a wonderful way to get into conversation with other tweeters.

Activity #7: Reply to a Tweet. Go to your homepage and search for our hashtag  (#BLPlayground) in the search box . Choose one or more of the tweets to reply to. Hover over the tweet to reveal the “reply” button, and send a response. For detailed instructions on how a tweet replies (and “mentions”) work, take a look at What are @replies and Mentions?

Activity #8: Reflect (Blog Post). Please share your thoughts about Twitter (and microblogging) in a blog post! A sentence or two is fine, but if you’re feeling inspired, don’t hold back! Look under the picture for some topic ideas.


Choose one of these ideas to kickstart your blog post for this week, or choose your own angle!

1. Write a little “Dear Twitter” letter, in which you tell Twitter how you feel about it. What do you think about Twitter as an information source? How might you use it this way in your personal life or professional life? What misgivings do you have?

2. Take a look at one (or all!) of these four great public library Twitter accounts: Boorondora Libraries (@BoroondarLib), Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand (@ChristchurchLib ), Vancouver Public Library, Canada (@VPL) and DC Public Library, United States (@dcpl). How are these libraries using Twitter? Are they well-followed? Are there any ideas you find particularly interesting?

3. Explore Twitter’s “favorite” and/or “list” functions (look under the gear icon). How might these help you or your library use Twitter?

4. Find John Quincy Adams (@JQAdams_MHS) on Twitter. What do you think of this Tweeter’s tweets? Does this give you any ideas for how a public library could use Twitter?

5. Is Twitter old hat? Explore one (or more) of the other microblogging services mentioned at the beginning of this module, then tell us what you discovered.


One Response to “Intro to Twitter (optional)”


  1. Welcome to the Learning Hub 2.0 | Learning Hub 2.0 - February 26, 2013

    […] Intro to Twitter […]

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