To Tweet, or not to Tweet?

When people find out I have Twitter (and tweet frequently) they often ask why. Why would I, an insignificant university student, want to let the world know what I had for breakfast or where I’m headed for the evening?  To most who are not in the know, mindless tweets referencing the weather or daily minutia seem permeate the Twittersphere.  However, as evidenced by the vastly growing number of users on Twitter and increased user retention, there must be something drawing people in.  What is it?

By using Twitter, you are opening yourself up to dialogue, information, news, and relationships you may not have had by limiting yourself to other social networking and media sites.

the author’s own Twitter feed

I’ll admit, my first experience on Twitter felt a bit stalker-ish.  IN my POLS 393 class last year, Professor Jonathan Rose (@JonathanRose) asked if anyone Tweeted and was met with a room full of blank stares.  Being the curious person I am, I found his Twitter and ‘followed’ him.  As a Twitter newbie, and being used to Facebook where ‘friending’ someone essentially makes your life quite public and opens you up to creeping, I felt a little awkward doing so.

Making the decision to follow my professor led to me to a whole slew of interesting people on Twitter.  Take, for instance, Professor Sidney Eve Matrix (@sidneyeve) who teaches Film 240 and is what many would consider a social media maven.  By following her on Twitter, I became aware of a course I did not even know existed (through her recommendation that I take it) and which has quickly become a favourite.  Through her Twitter feed, I happened upon Beth Daniher (@bethdaniher), a former Queen’s student who I recognized by name and face from my experience as an Orientation Week leader but have never actually spoken with.  Beth is a current student at Humber College for PR and I have found her tweets so useful as I determine what sort of graduate program I wish to go into next year.

This is only a small example of the vast opportunity for learning and interaction afforded by Twitter usage.  And so, the question remains. Should you Tweet?

YES! You should Tweet!

  1. You find yourself interesting
    (see: Ashton Kutcher, @aplusk)
  2. You find other people interesting
  3. You want to keep in touch with friends without the incriminating photo evidence of Facebook
  4. You hate wading through the news online but like to know what’s going on
    (@CNNbrk, @HuffingtonPost, @GlobeCampus, @QueensJournal, @QueensU, @kingstonist, @torontoist)
  5. You like it when news anchors air your Tweets on the 11:00 news, to the horror of your father
  6. You are a student and your professors have Twitter (@JonathanRose, @SidneyEve) and maybe even your Principal (who happens to be quite interesting & loves Queen’s trivia @QueensPrincipal)
  7. You like to know what your student government officials are up to
    (@AZabrodski, @MichaelCeci, @Leslie_Yun, @MorganSCampbell)
  8. You like a good laugh
    (@PeterMansbridg, @shitmydadsays, @TeenieTuxedo, @VoiceInPMsHead)
  9. You’re a politician and you like to let people know about your platform & what you’re up to
    (@DrEricHoskins, @MichaelIgnatieff)
  10. 10. You are the pet of a politician
  11. You have a blog/website/feeling/organization you’d like to promote
  12. You want to be considered digitally savvy by employers
  13. You don’t have enough applications on your iPhone/Blackberry and are looking for just one more.

NO! You should not Tweet!

  1. You like to be out of the loop
  2. You are boring & think everyone else is boring, too
  3. You think Facebook is professional
  4. You don’t like learning what people in your industry have to say
  5. You are a politician and have nothing nice to say….ever.
  6. You are a politician and like to dispense sexist advice to young girls
  7. You are an NFL player or are in an NFL stadium. After one too many mishaps, and fears about their TV contracts, the NFL has banned Twitter in many cases.

So go ahead. Tweet. Make a name for yourself in the social media world and learn valuable communications skills. When you only have 140 characters to make your point, you learn to be succinct and engaging. What do you have to lose?

Some Twitter tips

  1. Use your real name! People like to know who they’re following.  Not only does it add legitimacy to your account, but you might also get some pretty cool perks out of it.
  2. Keep it professional. This will come up in a Google search. This is a great opportunity to shape your online identity – it isn’t often that you get to control what comes up about you online!
  3. If you can’t be professional, lock your Tweets. But, seriously, Twitter makes no sense if you lock your posts.
  4. Don’t Tweet about your lunch. Unless you’re the voice in Stephen Harper’s head, no one cares.
  5. Follow people you find interesting and people you want to be more like. Ask them questions, Re-Tweet what they post, engage.
  6. Find your niche and stick to it.  If you’re Tweeting about something other people are interested in, your follower base will grow and you’ll get more out of the Twitter experience.
  7. Use the #hashtag feature to link quickly to other posts where people are talking about the same topic. Likewise, use the ‘search’ and check out the ‘trending topics’ to find out what’s hot.
  8. Use the new “lists” feature to check out your favourite followee’s lists – you’ll probably want to be following many of the same people.
  9. Have fun! Not every post has to be a link to a serious news article or a new blog post. Give your Tweets some personality.

So go to and make a name for yourself in the social media community. It’s that easy.

PS. All the @names in this post link to the person’s Twitter page. Enjoy!