Twitter. Just get started.

(This post is cross-posted here at the Scholar Electric blog.)

My good friend, Tony, has been bugging me for a while now to explain to him how to use Twitter as an English/New-Media/Writing-Studies/Digital-Humanities scholar. I’ve tried, several times now, to explain how twitter works, and how to use it effectively. For me, the idea of “using” Twitter doesn’t really right true. Instead, I tend to think of Twitter as a place where things happen. A place where I visit to overhear what’s going on with/between people I think of as friends and colleagues. They contribute ideas and links to articles. They pose questions. They suggest or query for collaborators. I often find some amazingly useful information, and I’m always running across new people I want to meet. And every once in a while, think that I, too, might have something to contribute. But still, for someone who’s unfamiliar with the Twitterverse, and who would like one person’s advice about how to get started, I have a few ideas that I wish someone would have told me when I was first getting started.

The first thing I would do is to make sure you sign up for an account. Once you’ve got that accomplished, start building a starter-list of people (or accounts) you want to follow. One of the best tools you’ve got is the search bar at the top of the twitter page. When you’re searching for people/accounts it’s a good idea to have a mix of types. Here’s a list of the types of accounts I would start with:

Colleagues in my discipline or related disciplines…




















Projects/software/hardware that I want to keep up with…







Accounts that are more fun…




Keep going!

Once you’ve got a good start on your feed (maybe 20-30 accounts to get you started), start checking in at some point each day to see what you can overhear. Maybe you’ll be able to respond to someone’s tweet. Maybe you’ll encounter an amazing idea.

Eventually, you’ll start gaining followers. Some of the people you follow will follow you back. Sometimes you’ll respond to a tweet, someone will retweet you, and people will find you that way. You might also add your twitter tag to your email signature, vitae, business cards (do people still use those?), etc. And from there, you’ll start shaping your own Twitterverse into something rewarding for you. Good luck!