I've tried it. I've tried to not follow "too many" people on Twitter. I tried to keep my "following" list at 300 so I "didn't miss anything." I can't keep track of them all on my Twitter feed! What if I miss someone's tweet that I'm meant to see? What if I miss a gem that could really change my way of thinking about student learning? Ahhh! NOOOO!
My next step - I learned that the more people you follow, the more different perspectives you get about teaching. No longer do I just follow middle school ELA teachers - I follow Kindergarten teachers, tech experts, librarians, principals, superintendents, music teachers, etc. How do I keep up with all of it? I don't, really. However, I do have a way of feeling like I see many tweets that I "need."
In February of 2013, I met Karen Lireneman (from British Columbia) in person - 15 minutes from my house near O'Hare airport! I asked her how she could keep up with all the tweets from all the people she follows - she asked, "You're still watching your feed? You need to watch the hash tags!" Those two sentences changed the entire way I manage all my learning on Twitter. Now, I'm finally getting around to letting you know how you, too, can follow those people you don't want to miss.
Note: There are other tech tools you can use to accomplish this task, but I will be focusing on TweetDeck, since that is all I use.
Create an account with TweetDeck. You should begin by seeing your Twitter feed appear in the left column. Sadly (or not), I really only look at this column now when I'm sick at home in bed... TweetDeck looks like many twitter feeds in columns. It can look kind of crazy busy at times, but no worries. You can make it look as simple or large as you like.
On the left, click "add column."
This will be the column of people contacting you, using your Twitter handle. This way you won't miss when someone really wants to include you in the tweet.
On the left, click "add column" again. Time to add your direct messages column.
If someone sends you a direct message, he or she REALLY wants you to see this. Watch for spam, however! Don't click on suspicious links.
Go back to your Twitter account. Have you created any lists? If not, this is the time to do so. If you have already, skip to Step 5.
Go to someone you adore, and click on the gear next to the "Following" button.
Here are a few of the lists I currently have...
You may also notice that some of my lists are "locked." That means that people in that list do not know they are in this list of mine. I do this for my "first" list - this is a list of the people I truly find precious on Twitter - those I truly do not want to miss each day. I have it locked, so that I may change my mind at any time without hurting anyone's feelings. I currently have 90 people on this list, but I think 50 of them do not tweet regularly, so it's very easy for me to keep up.
Go back to TweetDeck. On the left, click "add column" again. Click on "Lists," and choose one that you'd like to keep track of.
My favorite is my "first" list and my "Met f2f" list. Repeat this step until you have the columns you'd like up on the deck.
On the left, click "add column" again. Click "Search."
In the search bar that comes up, type in a hash tag you love to follow.
Click on "Tweets," then "Add Column."
Now you won't miss a thing about this topic - even if you miss the scheduled chat or don't follow the people tweeting about it! (Sometimes #geniushour has some funny ones - people who tweet things such as "Wore my dirty clothes in the shower this morning. #geniushour...")
If you've gotten this far, why not make your learning even MORE precise? Time to go to the top of one of your columns. At the top right, there's a picture of two lines with a circle in each. Click on this icon.
Once you click it, more options open up to you.
Clicking on each arrow gives you even more options with which to sculpt the tweets you see.
Since my "Met f2f" list has gotten so large during this past year, I have "retweets excluded" so I don't keep seeing the same things over and over. I have an alert on my "mentions" column - only during a chat - just in case I get wrapped up in the chat and don't see who's including me in a message. Have at it - see what you like, and tailor as you get a feel for it all.
I also use this box when I want to "clear" a column - I do this after I've checked out the tweets, and want to clear it so I know I'm "caught up" for the minute, at least.
My TweetDeck looks like this when I'm all caught up.
(Of course, I have more columns to the right of this - I currently have 9 columns on my TweetDeck.)
Move the columns in the order of importance you'd like. Arrows to the left and right are found under the special options for each column.
Some days certain hashtags or lists will be more important to you than others, and you'll want to move them where you can see them easily.
During a chat, I create a column for that hash tag, and move that column to the left next to my "mentions" column. If it is a large chat, I also add a column for the moderator, so I don't miss the questions in all the great discussion.
I hope this helps you feel more calm about managing your Twitter feed. I still don't catch everything, but you'll learn quickly that if it's great, it will be retweeted and then retweeted again, and you'll eventually see it in one of your columns! Do you use something different to manage your tweets? Any other tips and tricks? Please leave a comment so more can learn from you!