In order to do this, I thought I would share my experience of Twitter by creating this short Frequently Asked Questions guide. Its aim is to help facilitators understand what twitter is and how you they can leverage its use:
1) What is twitter?
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters. With these messages, you can include images and weblinks or urls.
2) Why should I, as a facilitator, use twitter?
There are many reasons why you might consider becoming part of the global users of twitter that work in or use facilitation. Here are the five I see as important:
A) Continuous Professional Development: Many organizations and individuals involved in facilitation share methods, processes, trips and tricks through twitter. I personally have learnt a whole range of techniques from following people on twitter.
B) A support network: If you are stuck for resources, ideas or information the twitter facilitator community is very open and giving. When the European airports were hit by the Icelandic ash cloud, I used twitter to reach out for help to get home from a project abroad. I have helped many others with ideas, suggestions and feedback on a range of areas / issues.
C) A community: Sometimes work as a facilitator can be pretty lonely. Twitter allows you to connect to other people in similar situations and build new relationships.
D) A marketing engine: I know many people that use twitter to aid their marketing and sales efforts. They do this by advocating their ideas and thought leadership and occasionally interjecting these with messages around their products/services or promoting their website.
E) A mental break: Twitter provides an efficient way of keeping up with news, current affairs, sports, hobbies or interests. As the messages are short you can quickly get the gist of an issue or happening.
I am sure there are many more!
3) I hear about people giving details of trivial matters that would be a complete waste of my time to read. Isn’t that what it is about?
Absolutely not, Twitter provides tools to filter and focus on who and what you want to read about. In my experience the posts by facilitators tend to be on the main part about work and its tools, tips to share and experiences that show the power of facilitation. Occasionally there are personal interjections and that is great also, as that allows a better sense of connection.
4) How can I know who in the facilitation world is using twitter?
There are many ways of finding facilitators on twitter:
A) Go to the twitter website and search for facilitation as a key word in the search bar (https://twitter.com/search?q=facilitation&src=typd). Try variations of this and search for specific methodologies or associations.
B) Many facilitators who have Facebook, LinkedIN or Google+ accounts share a link to their twitter profile on these sites. You can simply click on “follow” them there and you will start to follow them.
C) Once you sign up for a twitter account (name, email and password are all that are required) you can connect it to your email and twitter will look at the emails in your address book and show you which of your contacts use twitter.
5) If I get started on Twitter, will it not use a lot of my time to read all of their messages?
You do not have to read everyone’s messages and you can dip in and out as you feel free and time permitting. Personally I spend about 10 minutes a day on Twitter either posting or reading. One of the ways you can reduce your time and be more effective with the amount of followers you may have is to segment them by moving peole into “lists”. Lists are simply people or organisations that you have grouped together under a heading that may have one or more things in common. As you collect “followers” you should look to create logical lists to make it easier to use twitter effectively.
6) Is there an etiquette to using twitter?
Just like any communication process there are some “unwritten” rules. If you use your common sense then you should be fine. My basic thoughts are:
A) Be nice and polite
B) Be helpful
C) Treat others as you would like to be treated
D) Better to be silent than not be nice
E) Accept differing views
F) Thank others for helping and sharing when appropriate.
I like this article from Entrepreneur.com as it lays out some fundamental norms that you should consider :http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227038
7) How can I get help about getting started with Twitter?
The enrolment process has explanatory guidelines to help people get started and Twitter.com has a very good website. I recommend the posts in the new user section: https://support.twitter.com/groups/50-welcome-to-twitter . You can also ask people you know who use Twitter or the IAF communities or Facebook or LinkedIn.
8) Is twitter secure and will it damage my pc, mac, email, other social media accounts or even my physical self?
Overall it is very, very, very safe and the Twitter organisation puts a great emphasis on security. The key aspects I think are:
A) Use strong passwords.
B) Do not place all of your movements in twitter.
C) Do not click on links from those that you do not trust.
9) Are there other ways of engaging with facilitators on twitter?
Yes there are:
A) You can follow or search for “hashtags”. “Hashtags” are set up by people people involved in or promoting specific events, conferences or weeks. These allow you to quickly get up to date with specific areas of interest. #FacWeek is currently being used as the “hashtag” for the international facilitation week: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FacWeek&src=hash
B) You can get engaged in Twitter Chats: These are themed conversations held via twitter that use a hashtags to keep the conversation focused and engaged. They are typically set up for a specific moment in time and there many weekly or monthly chats. As an example two are being held on October 22nd and 24th at 12pm EST. The hashtag #FacWeekChat is being used to keep the conversation connected.
10) When is an ideal time of day to use Twitter and when should I start?
Any time and right now. Come on down and get engaged with fellow professionals from around the world. We are keen to create a mutually supportive network and help spread the word about the power and value of facilitation!
I hope you have found this useful. If you have questions or additional tips, tricks, twitter resources or links that would help others join twitter or get more out of its use, then please leave them below.
I would personally love to connect with you on twitter, so please “follow me” and I will most certainly reciprocate: https://twitter.com/Andi_Roberts.
EDIT: Since writing this I have found some great infographics around Twitter that can be found in this article: Twitter Infographics.
Many thanks for reading my FAQ on Twitter for facilitators, Andi Roberts