figuring out Twitter

Twitter is one of those tools which puzzles many people. Others use it daily to exchange ideas with like-minded people. It’s an easy way to connect people who have something valuable to say with people who want to listen. But, figuring out Twitter is like learning to swim. First, you have to get in the water.

I have been watching with interest how Terry Roller is using Twitter in his early days as Superintendent of Talladega City Schools. As he has visited schools and held meetings with the public, he has been sharing those experiences through Twitter.

Roller’s use of Twitter has sparked an interest in this tool within the school system and community. Principals, teachers, and community members have been creating their own accounts. One way I know is that many of these new users have started following me (and I normally follow them back). When I first noticed Roller’s tweets, he had about 40 people “following” him. That number is now around 500. Roller’s twitter handle is “@DegaSuper.”


figuring out Twitter

Terry Roller (@DegaSuper)


Creating an account is easy. Giving you help with figuring out Twitter from there from there is the purpose of this article. What follows are three strategies for making Twitter something of value.

Don’t Be an “Egghead”

Once you create an account, the first thing you want to do is upload a headshot of yourself. This “profile picture” will appear beside every tweet you compose. What happens if you don’t upload a photo? The image that appears beside your tweets is an egg. People you follow will be justifiably suspicious of whether you are who you say you are.

#Hashtags are Everything

One of the most important aspects of figuring out Twitter is understanding how to ise hashtags. Once you start following more than a handful of people, Twitter resembles a bunch of people in a crowded room all talking at the same time about different things. It’s hard to filter out the noise and find what interests you. A “hashtag” is a word (or phrase run together with no spaces) that identifies the subject of the tweet.

Roller has adopted the hashtag “#wearetalladega” and uses it whenever he tweets about the school system. Principals and teachers within the system are doing the same thing. Enter “#wearetalladega” in Twitter’s search window and you will see every tweet from anyone who is using that hashtag.

You see this concept every day. For example, news stations cover a story and ask you to respond on Twitter using a specific hashtag. Searching Twitter for that hashtag reveals everyone’s comments related to that story. Clicking on the hashtag in any tweet reveals all tweets that have recently used that same hashtag.

Hashtags are the “glue” that bring conversations together. Does your school, church, or other organization have a hashtag? Do members of your profession or people who share your hobby use a particular hashtag? If so, search for that hashtag to read thoughts from like-minded people. When you tweet, include the appropriate hashtag. That way, people who are interested in your topic will find your comments.

How to Get Followers

Twitter is a lonely place if you have only a handful followers. The easiest way to get followers is to follow other people. If you are not an “egghead,” they will likely follow you back.

Using Terry Roller as an example, you could search Twitter and find him (@DegaSuper). You would be able to see who he is following and who is following him. Probably, you would see many people there that you know.  With one click, you can also follow any of these people.

Secondly, search for a hashtag related to your school, church, etc. The people who are tweeting using that hashtag are likely to be people you know. Click on them to follow. In no time, your community will grow. You will begin to share tips, articles, and ideas with people near and far who share your interests.

If you have heard about Twitter and wonder what you may be missing, you could start today, and do it for free. Go to and sign up for free. Then, reread this article and get busy figuring out Twitter.