I signed up for Twitter back in 2010. I posted a handful of times and then promptly deleted my account. I asked myself, “Why would anyone care about what I have to say?” Honestly, I just didn’t see its purpose and figured I wouldn’t get much use out of it.
Fast forward about a year later and I found myself getting talked into rejoining. I created a new account, added a photo, posted a couple of times and lurked…a lot. I followed some people who interested me, clicked on their names and scrolled through their timelines. I read conversations between educators, too scared to jump in with my own thoughts on the subject (I felt like I would be intruding on a private conversation), watched as people tweeted and retweeted content that I found interesting and helpful. Slowly, I came to the realization that it wasn’t so much about me putting something unique and brilliant out there, it was about reading and learning from others, and posting when I found something that was helpful to me. It wasn’t until I had lurked for a while that I felt comfortable enough to start tweeting more and I think it helped me really understand the usefulness of Twitter.
So what’s so good about it? I think the beauty of Twitter is that you get exactly what you want from it. You tailor your account to your preferences. Like sports? Follow athletes, sports blogs and media personalities. Photography? Follow professionals, amateurs, and more blogs! The best part? You can unfollow with ease and without feeling too badly about it.
One of my favourite functions of Twitter is the organized chat. In my profession, there are countless weekly chats in a variety of subject areas and interests that are open to anyone. All you have to do is find the chat, follow the hashtag and join in the discussion. This is where lurking comes in handy again. The first few times I “participated” in edchats, I didn’t tweet, I only observed. Again, there was that fear of not having anything particularly important or useful to add to the conversation. Slowly though, my lurking gave me more confidence to really join in the conversation and tweet right along with the others.
I admit I still do a lot of lurking, and I don’t see any harm in it, as long as I do join in the conversation from time to time. So for those of you that are nervous about Tweeting, my advice to you is this: lurk away. Find some people whose Tweets you enjoy reading and scroll through their timelines. Observe. Join a chat on a subject that interests you and watch and read to see how people interact. Finally, don’t be afraid to join in. Start with some retweets then add your own perspective and slowly, you will build the confidence to use Twitter in a whole new, hopefully more meaningful way.