Understanding the concept of thick and thin Tweets (inspired by @BonnieZink)


The slide deck above was created by Bonnie Zink a fellow social media enthusiast and Hootsuite Ambassador. I first connected with Bonnie about 3 years ago when participating in the weekly #HSUchat (a tweetchat exploring the use of social media in business and personal development).

I was taken with Bonnie’s definition of thick and thin Tweets. With her permission I have embedded her presentation above and then taking each slide I have italcised Bonnie’s bullet points and responded to these below each section with my own thoughts.

Bonnie begins by asking a series of questions:

What is Twitter all about?

  • Share what you know
    ○ How will your expertise help others?
  • Learn from others
    ○ What do you need to know?
  • Make the connections that matter
    ○ Who will help you reach your goals?

My mantra about Twitter is that “Twitter is only as good as the people you follow”. The Tweets you see in your timeline are predominantly from the people you follow (plus any retweets they have posted). Choosing connections is a personal thing, however once you have a collection of people or organisations to follow, it is worth looking at who they follow as this may provide new contacts with shared interests that you would like to follow too.

When I first started using Twitter, I did a lot of ‘listening’ and found that I was learning so much from my growing personal learning network (PLN). Twitter is a social networking tool and as such is perfect for engaging in dialogues. Do reach out and ask questions.

As you build confidence you realise that you can also initiate conversations and share useful and relevant information with your connections and beyond. When your posts are retweeted a ripple effect occurs as others will also see these Tweets.


Bonnie’s next slide considers who we are on Twitter

Who are you on Twitter?

  • Content Curator
    ○ Share your unique perspective about what’s important in the world through sharing the content that matters to you.
  • Content Creator
    ○ Share infographics, blog posts, photos, podcasts, web pages, publications, events, and other content that you’ve created.
  • Content Supporter
    ○ Share content (reTweet) and engage (reply and comment) with the content shared by those in your network.

It is likely that as a new user of Twitter you will begin as a Content Supporter sharing and interacting with posts made by others. In time you will go on to gather or curate information on topics of interest to you and as a Content Curator share this with your connections. The next step as a Content Creator is where you promote content you have created yourself. Using Twitter is an ideal way to disseminate a wide range of content as not only will your followers see this, potentially they will retweet your posts and share with their followers.

I am now at the stage where I have been and continue to be a Content Supporter, Content Curator and Content Creator. I’m not sure I can separate myself as having just one of these roles. This I think is a good thing, as whilst being a Content Creator I can promote blog posts such as this, I think it is very important to support others in the work they create. Here I adopt the role of Content Curator or Content Supporter where I comment upon and share content others have produced.


Bonnie goes on to give examples of thin and thick Tweets

Tweeting: the thick and the thin of it 

Thin Tweets

  • Content lacks depth or context
  • Tweet about what’s happening now
  • Share links without comments
  • Text only tweets
  • Twitter feed is all about you – lacks reTweets, replies, and engagement
  • Twitter feed should be all about your audience, network, and connections

Thick Tweets

  • Tweet about what’s happening now, tag colleagues, and use hashtags
  • Include personal comments about why content interests you
  • Add good quality graphics
  • Actively reply to tweets
  • Engage your network by asking questions

When tweeting it is important to get a balance. A mix of thin and thick Tweets is fine. The brevity of Twitter and accessibility through mobile devices, means that we can quickly share succinct messages. Thick Tweets are clearly richer where a dialogue ensues, but this can be initiated from a thin Tweet. Adding images does enhance a Tweet as it stands out in the timeline, so has the potential to catch people’s attention as they skim through the Tweets they can see. Retweeting and acknowledging contributions made by others is not only good practice, it is also good etiquette.

Bonnie goes on to provides a number of screenshot examples of both thick and thin Tweets, so do look through her slide deck at the top of this post. Looking at Tweets through this lens has certainly got me thinking and I hope it has for you too. Thank you Bonnie!


About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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2 Responses to Understanding the concept of thick and thin Tweets (inspired by @BonnieZink)

  1. bonniezink says:

    Thank you, Sue, for adding your perspective on this topic. I love it when content that I create actually inspires people to think about what they doing in their practice and possibly encourages them to evolve and grow their own work.

    The inspiration behind this slide deck was viewing so many dull tweets that were too think to hold any traction at all. A tweet has a life of about 10 seconds (and that is being generous). It dies a quick death unless we add something that hooks us into clicking a link, pressing reply, or reTweeting the information.

    Enter the thick tweets concept. Just because Twitter is short and fast, doesn’t mean it has to be dull and boring. There’s a lot of passion that can be shared via 140 characters or less. It is the creative thinkers that do well on Twitter. We all have the ability to share our information and knowledge in a way that is both interesting and thought encouraging.

    So…let’s get out there and tweet what we know and love!

  2. ushiec says:

    Very thought provoking. I started using twitter for personal reasons but I find the overlap with my work interests makes me think twice about what I put out there these days. I’m going away to practice now.

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