By Jennifer Kennedy
Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She works closely with IEA’s social media to regularly connect with parents and educators of gifted children.
In a previous post, I mentioned that social media can be an excellent resource on giftedness and discussed the ways in which Facebook can be used in this manner. In this post, I will cover a social network you might not be as familiar with using but that has many extremely helpful applications for you to network and find resources on giftedness – Twitter.
140 characters may not seem like much, but Twitter is a gold mine of information, resources and support for parents of gifted children.
Getting Started on Twitter
Once you have an account set up, find Twitter accounts that interest you just like you did on Facebook. IEA also has a Twitter account, so be sure to follow us during this process to see the gifted news and resources we share there. You can also see the Twitter users we follow for ideas of other people and organizations to look at.
If you use your Twitter account for personal reasons or follow accounts that are not related to giftedness, I suggest you use the “lists” feature to create lists based on the type of content each Twitter user posts. Twitter displays tweets in real time, so if you are looking at your home page, you will see the most recent tweets, no matter who sent them. Lists help you see the most recent posts by the type of account so that if you are looking for gifted news and resources you won’t have to sort through 100 tweets about where Ashton Kutcher ate lunch.
You can also search Twitter using keywords or hashtags that are of interest to you. You will find many resources and articles falling under that topic. #Gifted is a great place to start.
Engaging on Twitter
As with Facebook, you will get much more out of Twitter if you engage with others on the network.
To direct a tweet at another user, begin your tweet with @[Twitter handle]. You can also retweet (RT) what other users tweet and suggest other good Twitter accounts to follow using the popular Follow Friday hashtag (#FF).
RT – Simply press RT button or copy and paste the tweet into a new tweet with letters RT @[Twitter handle] previous to their tweet if you’d like to add commentary, which adds value for your followers.
#FF – Once you have followed some organizations and people you know on Twitter, you may start to see Follow Friday (#FF) tweets. These are recommendations of people to follow. In addition to being a helpful way for you to find new accounts to follow, you can use it as a nice way to say you appreciate the people in your network.
Twitter chats are something unique to Twitter that the gifted and education communities have really embraced. These real-time chats are scheduled and typically occur at the same time every week or month, allowing you to plan for the discussion ahead of time. #gtchat is a popular chat about giftedness that is worth a look.
This weekly chat was created by Deborah Mersino to connect parents and educators of gifted children with each other and discuss topics of interest. The chat is now run by Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT) and moderated by Lisa Conrad, but the spirit of the chat remains the same. Chat topics are often voted upon earlier in the week, so you have a say in what you’d like to discuss. Chats usually take place on Fridays at 4pm Pacific, although chat times are changed or added occasionally to accommodate international participants. For more information about the chat or to see transcripts of past chats, which are excellent resources, visit the #gtchat blog.
#gtchat is an excellent forum to discuss issues related to your gifted child, and we highly recommend participating. However, the fast-paced, real-time chat can be overwhelming at first. I suggest looking through the transcripts of previous chats before participating. Once you see the chat in action and get the hang of it, you will love interacting with this great group of people.
When participating in any Twitter chat, it is often helpful to use the tool available at TweetChat.com to see the chat in real time, as it is specifically built for this function. You can view the chats on Twitter, but it is often a bit slower and more difficult to work with. If you do not use TweetChat, make sure you add the chat’s designated hashtag (e.g. #gtchat) to the end of every tweet you want to show up in the chat.
#gtchat is also a great hashtag to follow throughout the week, as is the gtchat moderator account (@gtchatmod).
For more great information about how to use Twitter for advocacy and learning, take a look at these posts from Deborah Mersino:
How have you used Twitter as a resource on giftedness? Please share your experience in the comment section below.