- Author: Brenda Dawson
It didn't start out this way: The first time I heard about a fellow UC communicator using Twitter, I told her that it was a waste of time. I explained my "expert" reasoning: I had read a magazine article that said Twitter was an overpromoted fad.
It wasn't long before I realized that I should probably back up my words with actual experience. But when I tried to learn about Twitter by looking at it from the outside, nothing made sense. So I signed up for an account — it's free, afterall.
>> Fast forward to today, and I juggle two Twitter accounts, am training a co-worker on how to use Twitter, and give social media presentations to small-scale farmers and others (tomorrow at the PlacerGROWN Conference, next month at California Small Farm Conference).
Why should you care?
Because if you want to find out about Twitter, you can debate and read about it all you want. But the most pivotal piece of advice will still be:
Sign up for an account and actually try it.
You really are going to have to try it to truly understand how it all works. Jumping in with both feet helps, but even just dipping your toes in the water will do. Here's where you sign up for an account.
The "actually try it" part will involve:
- Finding people you want to "follow" so you can listen to what they have to tweet, AND
- Tweeting things you think your desired audience might be interested in.
Once you have followed some accounts and tweeted something, the people you are following can better decide whether they want to follow you back. Frequently in Twitter, you first follow someone you think might also be interested in following you. In this way, Twitter is a way to exchange information between people with similar interests.
Co-workers and people you know in the real world are one way to start finding Twitter accounts to follow. ANR has this list of ANR twitter accounts, and I maintain this (unofficial) list of twitter UC agriculture-related accounts.
Next try branching out to: Go to search.twitter.com and put in a keyword related to your expertise. Find a tweet you think sounds interesting, and then check out the tweeter. Follow him if you want to keep hearing what he has to say — or if you think he might be interested in what you have to say. Look up leaders in your field, writers you enjoy reading in the paper, local organizations, current event topics, etc.
Then what? Once you have a better idea how Twitter works, you're going to have to ask yourself what every good communicator asks periodically:
- What do I want to say?
- Who is my audience?
Let seeking out your audience (by following them) and the information you have to share (by tweeting) guide the rest of your Twitter experience.
(Already using Twitter? Better luck with next week's WCTOW. Still confused? I'm happy to answer questions in the comments below. Still think Twitter is stupid? It might not be for you, but I like a challenge. Got something else to say? Comment below!)