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The Basics of Twitter and LinkedIn for researchers


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A handout aimed at giving researchers and future researchers basic information about the mechanics and potential uses of Twitter and LinkedIn in their professional careers.

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The Basics of Twitter and LinkedIn for researchers

  1. 1. The Basics of How to access it: or mobile app  The key concept: Everything on Twitter (except direct messages) is PUBLIC.  There are millions of tweets a day – everyone CAN see everything you tweet but that doesn’t mean they WILL see it!  Think of Twitter as giant free river of information and news – one that lets you zero in on the things you’re most interested in, but also reach the people who might be interested in what YOU have to say.  Unlike Facebook, you can use Twitter for a larger professional purpose. Personal info is OK to share, but it’s not for conducting an online high school reunion! o If you choose to have a personal Twitter, consider having a separate handle from your professional Twitter. (remember, handles are free, one per email address)  Tweets that contain links are seen as more valuable – write something preceding the link that will convince or entice a person to click to get more information  Tweets that contain images are more likely to get attention & interaction – and many sites automatically include the lead picture from a page when you tweet them. How to Speak Twitter Handle – your name or pseudonym – better to use some variation of your real name. Has an @ before it to signify that it’s a handle for a Twitter user. Description – more about you – 160 character limited - professional, personal info – Twitter handles and hashtags can be included - disclaimer about opinions (“Opinions my own” is plenty) . Can also include a link to your profile or LinkedIn page. Tweet – A post on Twitter, with a limit of 140 characters including spaces. Abbreviations, acronyms, shorthand, are all fair game. NEW: Soon, links will not be counted against your character count. Neither will pictures or polls you add to your tweet, or the Twitter handles of any Twitter users whose tweet you are replying to.
  2. 2. How to compose a tweet: Start by clicking the quill icon in the upper right corner of the Twitter window on your computer/app. Type. Twitter shows you how many characters you have left. Hashtags – Any word (or phrase with no spaces between words) with a # in front of it. Basically, a “buzzword” that designates the tweet as part of a conversation or a new contribution on a topic Hashtags act as a powerful search tools – i.e. #Medicare, #hcreform (health care reform), #ptsafety (patient safety) Use them to expose your tweets to a larger audience via discovery. Need to find a health-related hashtag? See to see what’s popular, or try typing a # followed by a keyword or acronym to see how popular a hashtag is, and whether it’s being used to mean what you want to say! To searching for info using Twitter, find hashtags most relevant to your area of interest and search for them (or follow them as a stream) often. Following – When you elect to add someone’s tweets to the stream you see when you log in. Following them doesn’t mean you endorse them! Create your own experience of Twitter by who you choose to follow - search for people or institutions/organizations in your subfield. Twitter will “learn” what you like and suggest others you might want to follow. Keep in mind that everyone else can see who you follow… Follower – Someone who has chosen to get your tweets in their main stream of tweets. Don’t confuse this with Facebook friending – strangers can choose to follow you on Twitter and it’s not creepy! However, if someone is annoying to you can block them from following you. Retweeting/Quoting a tweet – When you see a tweet you agree with, or want to comment on or share with others, you can “retweet” it, with or without adding your own comment. You can also “quote” a tweet, which gives you more characters to add your comment as you pass the tweet along. When you see “RT” in a tweet, that means the person who tweeted it is actually retweeting something they saw. NEW: you can now retweet your past tweets, with or without a “quote” comment Mentioning/tagging – Putting someone else’s Twitter handle (with the @ sign) in your tweet so that they know you’re talking about them or want to give them credit for something. Reply – When someone mentions your handle in a tweet, you can hit “Reply” and write back to them. Note: If you already follow them and they already follow you, the tweet is still visible to anyone on your list of tweets you’ve sent, BUT it won’t show up in the Twitter streams of your respective
  3. 3. followers. If you want all the followers to see it, put a period at the beginning when you reply. SOON this will change and NO PERIOD WILL BE NECESSRY. All tweets will be visible in the streams of your followers. Direct tweet – If you START a new tweet with someone’s handle, you are speaking directly to that person/institution. But the tweet will also be publicly visible on your timeline, and SOON If you already follow them and they already follow you, the tweet WILL show up in the Twitter streams of your followers. If you aren’t already following one another, your tweet will appear to your followers. Direct Messaging – You can conduct a PRIVATE conversation via Direct Messaging. (It used to just be allowed between people who were mutually following, but is being rolled out for general use.) Short links – If you have a URL you need to shorten, open your web browser, go to, paste it in, then copy the short link that the site creates for you. Twitter apps automatically shorten links. Tweeting from a web page – Many pages on news sites, etc. now have icons that let you tweet directly from that page, including a link for others to get to that page. They shorten the link for you. Twitpic – When you’re composing a tweet, you can add a photo, video, animated GIF, infographic or other image that gets attached to the tweet. This makes your tweet much more eye-catching. Trends – What’s being talked about on Twitter right now – hashtags and words being mentioned a lot. Lists – A way to organize the people you follow. For instance – Make a list of people you follow who tweet about a particular topic. You can zero in on just their tweets quickly. Look at another person’s lists to find potential followers or people you might want to follow. Subscribe to a list made by someone else (Such as Tweet chats – A set time when a group of tweeters log on to discuss and share info on a particular topic in a way that is public and open to anyone to anyone in that topic. Find ones you can take part in via search! Institutions also offer tweet chats as a way for an expert to speak directly to the public (i.e. about a health care service, parenting advice, etc.) Promoted tweets - Companies can spend money to make their tweet appear on the top of the feed you see, based on your demographics/region. Ignore these!
  4. 4. Wise use of Twitter:  Just observe for a while.  Don’t start to follow too many people at first – ease into it.  Don’t worry about “missing something” – you can always use hashtags and search, or visits to a particular person/entity’s page, to catch up.  When thinking about what to tweet, go for quality over quantity – but don’t be afraid of casual tweeting! People can see through a very “planned” tweet or series of tweets.  If you’re not finding use in someone’s tweets, stop following them. They really can’t tell and shouldn’t take offense. (likewise, if someone stops following you, don’t get too concerned…)  Have fun with it – Follow your favorite comedian, musician or actor. Sometimes they do the best tweets – and break up the heavy content.  Let your personality and professional opinion come through!  Add a little personal comment when retweeting/quoting someone else’s tweet or tweeting a piece of news straight from the web. People want to know why you think it’s worth reading. Good uses for Twitter: Tweeting at a conference session, lecture, etc. – Be sure to use any hashtag the organizers have chosen so that others can follow along. You can live-tweet/react to things that are said, or just “lurk” and follow what others are saying. It’s a great way to find people to follow, or to follow parallel sessions you can’t make it to! Following news organizations that report on topics you care about Sending a message to an institution/company you want to praise, complain about, or ask something. Increasingly, companies have social media coordinators on duty for rapid response. Find opportunities (i.e. @NIHforFunding) Comment on work by others or on societal issue or trends where you have expertise. Be the expert! Twitter Tools: or websites – for shortening links Tweetdeck or Hootsuite – allows you to see tweets from people you follow, tweets from people on your lists, saved search terms, etc. all at once (also has a desktop version)
  5. 5. The Basics of How to access it: or mobile app LinkedIn = a business-oriented Facebook. Why use LinkedIn?  Think of your profile as a public, search-engine-friendly CV.  Connect with past, present & future colleagues, contacts & employers. o Connection to a person doesn’t imply “friendship”, just a professional relationship o It’s OK to decline a “connection” from someone you don’t know.  Follow news and updates from institutions and companies.  Join groups of people with similar professional interests, for discussion/sharing of best practices  Write first-person posts that give you a blog-like platform Key tips: The space immediately under your name should be a short “ad” for you DO NOT just enter your current title (people can see that further down) Write a punchy description of your professional self. In employment history & education, use a full company/institution name LinkedIn will likely recognize them automatically, and make it easier for people to connect with you because they once worked/studied/trained at the same place. Many institutions now have Pages and groups on LinkedIn for their current and past employees/students. You can choose to follow/join these. Keep your profile as complete and up-to-date as possible. Use a professional-looking photo. Add links to your projects, papers, website(s). Write original posts about what you’re doing/publishing Enter specific skills you possess – and other professional/volunteer activities.