Who are you and why should I follow you back on Twitter?

faceless woman

Public domain image: Pixabay

Who are you?

Choosing who to follow 

My positive engagement with Twitter has a direct correlation with those I am following. I have always said Twitter is only as good as the people you choose to follow. Muireann O’Keeffe reminded to also add – and the information they choose to share. Twitter as a space has opened up new pathways for informal learning as users share nuggets of information embellished with links, images and videos. My choice of who to follow is a personal choice and is based on my professional interests. My interests may align with yours, however may at best only partially do so. Only you can decide who is interesting to follow.

Given the focus of my blog I am clearly interested in social media for learning. As an educator I am also concerned about how social media is being used, the impact of our digital footprints and digital identity.  I teach Digital Marketing so have an interest in how social media is being used by brands and organisations. My research of social media takes me in many different directions. The use of technology to enhance learning is also of interest, as is the social impact of cloud computing and the internet of things. The combination of all these interests means that I have a wide variety of connections – aka those I follow.

When making the judgement to follow someone new, I will consider the bio, the profile image, and then skim through recent tweets to see what is being shared.  To some extent I then have to follow my instincts. I’ll be honest and tell you that there are occasions I’ve found that an individual I’ve followed has not lived up to expectations – that is to say their tweets don’t relate to my interests. At this point I can choose to unfollow.

Sometimes I miss new followers that I do have shared interests with. I find this out when an interaction takes place – it could be something they have tweeted or I have. At this point I will make the connection. My advice here is that if you want to connect with someone, step one is following but step two should be to follow up with a tweet to introduce yourself and say what your shared interests are. This is where the social comes to the fore and the realisation of dialogue over monologue.



Unfortunately not all those who follow you are genuine. There are sadly an alarming proportion of fake accounts on Twitter. Fake user accounts can be a source of spam and malicious links. If you are concerned you can block a user that has followed you and they will no longer be able to see your tweets. You can find out how to block an account here.

Another issue is where an individual, organisation or brand is impersonated. Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter’s rules. In the event you identify a fake account, or an account impersonating you or your organisation, then do report this to Twitter here:


Avoiding fake accounts

There are some key areas to focus on:

  • The profile bio: Is it informative and does it describe the personality or profession of the person or organisation?
  • The profile photo or avatar: Does the image relate to the bio. It is wise to steer clear of the bikini clad girls like the plague.
  • The conversations: Do the shared updates match the tone and context of a genuine account? If in doubt never click on a link.
  • The followers and who the account is following: A fake account is likely to have a disproportionate follower and following count.


Verified accounts

Twitter provides a verification process for high profile accounts and explains this as follows:

What is a verified account?
Any account with a blue verified badge on their Twitter profile is a verified account.

Why does Twitter verify accounts?
Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities of key individuals and brands on Twitter.

What kinds of accounts get verified?
Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.

Twitter does not accept requests for verification from the general public.


Mistaken identity

There are many cases where genuine user names have been mistakenly used in tweets relating to brands and celebrities. Think carefully about the user name you choose!




Developing your own profile

It is important to consider how others perceive your profile. It is therefore in your interests to add relevant information to help potential followers make the decision to follow. Two key areas are your profile image and profile bio.

Twitter egg icon

When you create a Twitter account the default avatar is the egg icon. Replacing this with your own photo is important if you want to build trust and credibility. Ideally this photo should either be a head shot for a personal account or your company/organisation logo for a business profile.


Twitter bioYour bio needs to reflect who you are and an indication of your interests.  What will your tweets offer to those who follow you? You have 160 characters to encourage others to follow you. It is important to make you bio authentic. Adding a link to your website or LinkedIn profile can provide the source of more detailed information about you and is the easiest way to confirm the authenticity of your Twitter account. Including Twitter’s follow button on your webpage or blog is also useful.

You can customise your profile by selecting unique profile and header images, adding a name, bio, location, birthday, website and theme color, and by pinning a Tweet that other users will see when they visit your profile.


How to customise your profile

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android)
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your:
  • Header photo (recommended dimensions are 1500×500 pixels)
  • Profile photo (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels)
  • Name
  • Bio (maximum 160 characters)
  • Location
  • Website
  • Theme color (only editable on twitter.com)
  • Birthday

4.  Click or tap into any of these areas and make your changes.
5.  When changing a profile or header photo, click or tap the camera icon and select Upload photo or Remove.
6.  You can choose to Show my Vine profile on your Twitter profile (available available if you’ve connected your Twitter account to your Vine account).
7.  Click or tap Save changes. You’re all set!


How to mute, block or report followers


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The anatomy of the perfect blog post

Public domain image: Pixabay

Public domain image: Pixabay

When writing a public blog there is an expectation that someone will read it, however this is not always the case. To increase the chances of your blog being read, there are some useful points to be considered. Whoever you are writing a blog post for, it is important to present what you want to say in a reader friendly and attractive way.  Consideration should be given to how people will find your blog post. Sharing a link to the post through social media channels can help to further its reach. Including keywords in the title and headings can also help bring it up in searches. Continue reading

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Using word clouds for social collaborative learning

Google wordcloud - Tes from Jisc article : Listen, understand, act: social media for engagement

Google word cloud – Created from a Jisc article: Listen, understand, act: social media for engagement


What is a word cloud?

A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency. I am big fan of word clouds and have introduced these to my own students to visually analyse a piece of text and also as a visual representation of keywords as a graphic to use in posters, both printed and as digital infographics. Continue reading

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From stars to hearts: Twitter’s latest update

hearts and stars

Twitter uses have been able to save or bookmark tweets as favourites for a long time. As with many digital applications there are always ways to appropriate functions designed to do one thing for another purpose. The star symbol was the icon to click on to save an interesting post often with an added link and these could be viewed at a later point by viewing your ‘favourites’.  However users also began to use this function as a sign of appreciation in place of a tweet or as an acknowledgement you’d read the tweet. Much like the like button in Facebook. Continue reading

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400 million members – Why LinkedIn is so important for our students and future graduates


Public domain image: Pixabay

LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.  There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic. (LinkedIn October 2015). Continue reading

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Ways to get ‘snapshot feedback’ from Students or Peers using the new Twitter poll

Twitter polling

Last week Twitter announced that they were rolling out a new poll option that you can use within a Tweet. Users will be able to create their own two-choice poll right directly from the Tweet compose box and it will remain live for 24 hours. Users will be able to vote on any poll, and how you voted will not be shared publicly. Continue reading

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Some pinteresting visual ways to curate information in #HigherEd


What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that allows users to visually share and discover new interests by posting (known as ‘pinning’) images or videos to their own or others’ boards (i.e. a collection of ‘pins,’ usually with a common theme or topic). A pin is a visual bookmark. Users can browse what other users have pinned, like and comment, or re-pin to one of their own boards. They can also choose to follow individual or collections of boards.

By clicking on the pinned image you will be taken back to the site it came from. This is an important aspect as it connects the image with the creator. You may also upload your own images. Pins and boards can be shared via social networks. Continue reading

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What makes a good Tweet engaging?

Public domain image: Pixabay

Public domain image: Pixabay


Tweeting and brevity go hand in hand. With just 140 characters it is important that our tweeted messages are succinct, make sense, and are engaging. There are a number of pointers that can help to increase engagement. Continue reading

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Why is it useful for educators to participate in a Tweet Chat?


Social CPD

Social Media at its best is interactive and sparks dialogue, discussion, debate, questions and the opportunity for social learning with others. Of course it can also be useful to both broadcast useful information and be the conduit to find such information. One way of interacting is taking part in a live tweet chat. It is a rewarding way to spend an hour and an opportunity to learn with others.

What is a tweet chat?

A tweet chat is a virtual live event which is usually focused around a pre-determined topic and a series of questions. This can be a one-off or a a regular event that happens at the same time/day of the week. Typically a chat lasts for an hour. Each tweet chat is given a hashtag which is a pre-chosen word preceded with #. For example #LTHEchat (see below). The facilitator of the chat will include the hashtag in all questions raised during the chat and participants should include the hashtag in their answers. This means that tweets containing the hashtag can be filtered from other tweets. To do this participants simply need to search for the hashtag within Twitter.

How do you join in?

  • First of all identify a tweet chat that you are interested in. This may have been promoted or one that you happen upon as people you follow are tweeting about it.
  • Open Twitter and search for the tweet chat hashtag to filter the chat tweets. It may also be helpful to open a second Twitter tab and search for the Twitter account posting the questions.
  • Look for the questions posted and post your answer, remembering to include the chat hashtag within your tweet. You may also be asked to include A1, A2, A3 etc, to indicate which question you are answering.
  • You can also respond to others people’s answers by adding to the point made, challenging it or questioning it if you need more clarification – just as you would in a face to face conversation. The only difference is the brevity! You only have 140 characters and need to use some of these for the hashtag.

An example of a tweet chat

#LTHEchat is short for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education chat. This tweetchat was created by the community for the comunity. Details can be found at http://lthechat.com/ and by following @LTHEchat. Each week there is a different topic relating to learning and teaching. Following the chat, the tweets are curated using Storify and saved as an archive story of the chat.
These can be found at https://storify.com/LTHEchat

So why join a chat?

Tweet chats provide a great opportunity to learn with other educators sharing an interest in learning and teaching, or any topic that relates to your discipline, hobbies or learning focus. You can then build your connections by following interesting people, who when they see you participating are likely to follow you back. This helps to build your personal learning communities and networks.

During the chat not only do participants answer the questions, they share links to valuable resources such as papers, books, websites, podcasts and videos relating to the topic being discussed. As you see these, you can favourite the tweet to go back to later.

If you are new to tweetchats, then by all means ‘listen in’ and get a feel for the conversations taking place. It will at first appear to be very busy, however you will get used to the flow very quickly and before you know it want to engage in the rich conversations.

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Some thoughts on growing and engaging your Twitter follower base

Public domain image : Pixabay

Public domain image : Pixabay

Who are you Tweeting to?

This is an important question to consider. It may be that you have just started Tweeting and deciding who you think might be interesting to follow. As you become more confident it is likely that you will begin to find pockets of topics that particularly engage you or have information you need to reach a given audience. You may be Tweeting

  • on behalf of the Library, Careers, IT Support or even you own University
    – sharing details of events, status updates, links to useful articles, open days
  • to your students
    – sharing links to course related videos or podcasts
    – in the form of an open Q&A
  • to other educators
    – sharing information about learning and teaching
    – promoting and hosting a Tweetchat e.g. #LTHEchat

Whoever your audience is, it is in your own interests to use Twitter to share relevant and timely information. Think about how you are engaged by the Tweets of others. It is unlikely that it is just through broadcast updates. One of the indicators that tell you that your Tweets are being appreciated is the number of followers you have. The value of a follower is that by self-opting to see your Tweets they are more likely to interact with you. This may be in the form of a discussion or simply a retweet. However you should also be mindful of positive silent engagement, where people may be ‘listening’ and taking in what you Tweet and finding this useful, but never make themselves known. Chance conversations when you bump into followers face to face may alert you to such instances.

Not all followers are genuinely interested in you 

It is normal to see a fluctuation in numbers where Twitter followers suddenly unfollow you. I’ve found this can happen if a) I don’t follow someone back and b) I do follow back but then find I am immediately unfollowed.  There are times when I am followed  or mentioned in a Tweet for no apparent reason and there is no logical connection. This usually correlates with an account with large numbers of followers. I suspect some are auto-follows triggered by a keyword in one of my Tweets. This type of follower is unlikely to be interested in my Tweets and more likely to simply be looking to increase their own number of followers.

Unethical practice

There many rogues out in the Twittersphere trying to tempt users to buy followers. You may quite rightly question why on earth would anyone want to do this, but it is a practice that occurs, the motif being to appear ‘popular’. It is not only unethical, the Twitter rules are clear and state that an account may be suspended for Terms of Service violations if  rules are broken. These include:

  • If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile
  • Selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, retweets, favorites, etc.)
  • Using or promoting third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast” or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account)

Engaging your audience

In business the aim to grow a following is high up on the list in order to reach out to a potential customer base. It is important however to promote your account safely and ethically. In my own context of using Twitter it is good to have new followers, but quality rules over quantity.  I don’t follow everyone that follows me, and choose to make an informed decision based on the bio of that new follower. I hope that the number of followers I have will grow organically because the information I share is both useful and engaging, and when retweeted it is the content and observed conversations that attracts new followers. It may be that engagement happens though a shared hashtag.

Tweinds have created a useful infographic on how grow your followers the right way. In simple terms this means ways that will promote your account to people you would want to join your community.

How to grow your Twitter following

Tweinds is a directory of social media users listed by country and interests.

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