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So You've Decided to Follow Me On Twitter

Written by Dean Shareski
December 14, 2011

Originally posted on my blog

I’ll notice that during conferences, I’ll often get a barrage of new twitter followers as a result of someone giving a presentation or workshop and suggesting to some new folks that I might be worth following. While it’s kind and flattering that others might recommend me as someone to follow, I’ve always had some reservation about that. In workshops, twitter is shown as a powerful and great way for educators to connect with smart and like minded people. In many cases, these are educators new to the social networking particularly for the purposes of learning. The fear I have is that I represent the very reason many people think twitter is ridiculous. 

I frequently optimize the very essence of the banal tweet. 

So when a stranger reads that anticipating they might glean some insight or wonderful resource, they’re likely a combination of disappointed, confused or annoyed. Sure, if you’re following me, you might know by now this is par for the course. I will post the occasional mundane tweet but hopefully with a dash of humor or cleverness. Not always, but I try. If I bring a smile to someone once in a while, that means as much to me as sharing a great link or insightful remark. For me it’s purposeful, in the same way kibitzing in a staff room or with your friends is purposeful. Some call it social grooming

The whole notion of the word “social” and education is difficult to grasp when your experience with learning has been anything but social and void of fun. So rather than have people scared off immediately or having them figure it out eventually, I wondered if there was some way to give people a heads up, a twitter trailer if you will, on what they’ll get should they decide to follow me. 

So I created this:

Using ifttt, new followers get a direct message asking them to take 90 seconds to preview the goods. I worried a little if it would come across as spammy or invasive. I still wonder that but I’ve received some great feedback from people saying they really appreciated the heads up. I even had one person say that really only were interested in the educational side of things and if they found my content too out of place for them, they’d unfollow. Fair enough. 

While I could have had a link to my blog, that to me, seemed spammy. The blog isn’t a great reflection of my whole self. My blog is much more about my reflection and thinking as well as dumping ground of thoughts. Twitter is the blur of personal and professional. I realize everyone uses it differently and that’s fine. The fact that I used a video and people hear my voice and see my face adds another layer of connection. I much prefer people’s faces in their avatars. If I’ve heard them speak, I read their tweets with their voices, accents and all. 

So a month into this little experiment and I’m pleased with the feedback. It’s likely a trade off, with a few people put off, thinking it’s a little narcissistic, and maybe it is. But the pay off of potentially more informed and even more connected folks is worth it to me.