Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy & Learning – Part III

Welcome! If this is your first visit to the Ingeniosus blog, it’s a privilege to have you here. For those of you who have boldly launched into the Twitosphere and are still learning, this post should add new fuel to your mission. If you’re a veteran, please read along and see if you have any other tips to add. I’ve learned from many of you and welcome your insights. Add a comment below and/or tweet me your feedback (I’m @DeborahMersino). Together, we can create the future and “Tweet for Gifted Education.” Here we go!

Today’s post will focus on some of the trickier aspects of Twitter. If we can all learn to navigate this new medium without frustration or confusion, we’ll be able to maximize its potential and enjoy advocacy and global learning at its best – in real time!

Also, if you haven’t read Part I or Part II yet, read them now:

You’ll find it easier to understand these “Intro to Twitter” posts if you read them in order. And PLEASE be patient with yourself. It takes a while, but it is worth the effort!

Remember, if we can get thousands of gifted education advocates from across the world on board,we can:

  • Share gifted education resources and news in real time
  • Promote advocacy and action on behalf of high-potential learners, and
  • Learn from one another
  • It’s all about sharing knowledge!

    Purchased image knowledge in red Fotolia_2733011_S

    The five main subjects we will be covering today are:

    • How to Set Up Your Twitter Profile
    • Page (bio, picture)
    • Who to Follow
    • Who to Block
    • How to Save Subject Searches, and
    • How to Shorten URLs

    There are countless other topics I would like to incorporate (#followfridays, “Find People” searches, “RT/Retweet” considerations, Twitter backgrounds, TweetDeck), but they will have to wait. If you have suggestions for future posts and/or comments on this one, please feel free to send me an email at innovate@deborahmersino.com. I’ll do my best to answer your questions in future posts!

    How to Set Up Your Profile Page

    Once you have created your @username (such as @DeborahMersino), you should promptly set up your Profile Page, so that others know a bit about you (i.e. who you are, your interests). You’ll have the option to include a picture and a bio, which will show up on your Profile Page. This is what other people on Twitter will see when they click on your @username to visit your Profile Page. So, how do you do this?

    On the upper right-hand corner of your Home Page, click on the “Settings” link. Under the Account Tab (which should automatically come up), you’ll see a form to fill out information. You’ll also see the “One Line Bio” section like this. It’s part-way down the page:

    About yourself in fewer than 160 chars.

    You’ve got 160 characters to tell the world a bit about yourself. Here is mine:

    Bio: Marketing communications strategist specializing in gifted and talented education/support; wife; mother of two girls; lover of social responsibility

    Remember, you can always change it later, so don’t worry about making it perfect.

    Filling out this brief section, though, will help people identify you and your interests. It will also help ensure that others don’t inadvertently confuse you with a spammer (these folks often leave off bios altogether and/or post nonsensical information).

    TIP: If you happen to be a gifted education advocate, teacher and/or gifted organization,please include this, so others will know!

    To upload your picture, simply click on the “Picture” link in the “Settings” section and choose a file. It may take you a couple of times (sometimes files are too big). Keep trying. It’s much more enjoyable to Tweet with someone whom you can see. If you’re representing an organization, feel free to use your logo or a picture of yourself.

    As you will see, there is also a spot to input your name, location and/or your Web site or blog (if you have one). Any information you choose to add here will show up on your Profile Page. I personally like when people include their name and location. For instance, I find it fascinating that I have conversations with gifted education advocates in Vancouver. Hi @bfwriter!


    How do you find people to follow?

    Who to Follow

    I’ve made some initial recommendations in previous posts and on Twitter, but we have some exciting new additions! High Intelligence Specialist and Author Dr. Deborah Ruf, @deborahruf, is now on board.

    • Here are a few other musts: @NAGCGIFTED (National Association for Gifted Children); @HoagiesGifted (owner/developer of www.HoagiesGifted.org); @cfertig1 (author, blogger) and @DavidsonGifted (Davidson Institute).
    • I’m particularly grateful to @deepwaterscoach (Lisa Lauffer), @Doublelattemama (P.J. Kaiser) and @JeanneBernish (Jeanne Bernish) for helping me get started on Twitter. These gifted advocates may not realize it, but they’ve paved the way for many of us; I’m grateful to keep learning from them. Although these three tweet on many subjects other than gifted education, they were my true mentors.
    • There are many other fine gifted tweeps, including @GiftedTeechur (Candace Townsley) and @ByrdseedGifted (Ian Byrd). It’s also gratifying to welcome new tweeps, like @SJHartford (Susan Peck Hartford).

    Remember, you get to decide who YOU want to follow. That’s the beauty of Twitter! In order to follow someone, simply click on the “Follow” button on that person’s Profile Page (under his or her picture). That person will receive a notification via email that you are now following them. Some will send you a DM (Direct Message)thanking you for the follow.

    Some people argue that proper Twitter etiquette requires you to automatically follow anyone who follows you; however, it’s important to choose wisely – particularly right now (because of spammers). This brings us to our next topic…

    Who to block

    Unfortunately, anyone who has been on Twitter this past month has likely encountered spammers. These are individuals who begin following you, who are in the porn, get-rich-quick,and/or get-more-followers-fast regimes. Some are easy to spot (when you click on their Profile Page, you’ll see language that tips you off); other spammers are harder to discern. I recently clicked on a Web link for a woman who had pretty run-of-the-mill tweeps and claimed to be a soccer mom. I thought she might be a parent of a gifted student, but quickly found out that she had much different interests, if you know what I mean.

    In a moment, I’ll explain how to block someone, but here are a couple of clues:

    • If a person is following loads of people (1,340), but only a small fraction are following them (82), be wary. Now, if you’re @AnnCurry, a celebrity or a big organization, you’re forgiven (b/c it’s normal). However, if you come across a person who seems suspicious (no name, no bio, odd picture or some combo of this), this test might help you weed out interlopers.
    • Not all spammers will have unbalanced numbers though. There are thousands upon thousands of Social Networking Gurus promising to get you thousands of followers by tomorrow morning. Remember, you don’t need 1,000 followers you don’t know. Don’t be fooled. The goal is to create a community of people who share your interests.
    • Lastly, if someone has loads of followers, but has never posted an update, I recommend blocking them. If someone is new to Twitter, it’s fine (that’s a different story). No worries! But it’s just not normal to have two updates and 598 followers, or better yet, 3,458 followers!

    To block someone, click on your “followers” button underneath your own name and bio.

    • A list of your followers will pop up. You’ll be able to see each person’s most recent updates and whether or not you are following them. You’ll also find a box on the right-hand side of the column. If you click on that box, you’ll see an option to block that person (it’s the last option). A small window will pop up informing you that this person will no longer be able to follow you and see your updates. Click “okay.”
    • There is yet another way to block a person. If you are on a person’s Profile Page, you can click on the “block” link under “Actions.” Another window will come up asking you whether you’re sure. You must click on “Yes, I still want to block this person” for it to work.

    I worry sometimes that I might have blocked a legitimate gifted education advocate. I certainly hope not. If any of you reading this blog have been blocked by me, send me an email and please accept my sincerest apologies. Regarding spammers, Twitter seems to be working hard to rectify the issues (http://bit.ly/28Axel).

    Enough of the negative, let’s move on to something more upbeat. Remember, we’re here for a purpose!

    How to Save Subject Searches

    As mentioned in my previous posts, the key to satisfaction on Twitter is being able to stumble upon interesting posts, links and/or comments on subjects of interest to you (like gifted education).

    In a previous post, I recommended that people try to include #hastags in their updates when appropriate. For instance, I try to utilize the #gifted hashtag whenever I post news, RTs (“Retweets”) and/or updates relating to gifted issues.

    During the recent Javits funding push, @giftedfunding created a new hashtag – #fundgifteded, which made it easy for people to see updates on this particular issue.

    FYI, hashtags belong to everybody. They allow people to do # searches to view the most recent tweets on a particular subject. If you want to regularly check what’s new in the gifted world, put in #gifted in the Search box or create one of your own and share it!

    You’re automatically allowed to “Save” up to 10 subject searches.

    • If you want to regularly check what’s going on with #gifted, click on the “Save this search” link (located under your update box). Feel free to save any other subjects of interest to you (i.e. edreform, parenting, swimming). You design your own experience.
    • After you save a search, your subject will be listed for easy access under your search box. You’re limited to ten, but can always choose to delete a search and replace it with something new.
    • Moreover, if you have favorite people you like to follow, you can also save a search on them. If I save @HoagiesGifted for instance, I can then pull up all references to that person simply by clicking on my saved search link.
    • Please don’t forget to regularly search for your @username. People may have directed a response to you (and you might have missed it).

    How to Shorten URLs

    We’re almost there! Have you ever wondered how people create those tiny URLs to Web page links? There are several providers, but I happen to be a www.bit.ly fan. There is no cost to utilize the site and it provides an excellent tracking option (which lets you see how many people clicked on your links). You will need to create an account first at www.bit.ly. Click on “Setup a Twitter Account” and enter your Twitter @username and password.


    Then, whenever you come across an interesting link (news article, blog post, Web resource, you can do the following:

    • Highlight the URL in your browser and copy it (hold down “Ctrl” and the letter C)
    • Paste your long link into the www.bit.ly and click “Shorten”
    • Then, type your post with the embedded link (it will tell you if you go over 140 characters)
    • Click on the “Post” button” under the box
    • Your update (with link) will automatically post to your Twitter profile and show up in the timeline of your followers

    Why do this (instead of using the longer link)? It’s all about shortening your character count. By shortening your URL, you’ll have more space to comment on your link, add a #hashtag, etc.

    I’m hoping this post has proved helpful to you! My intent is to make it easy for people to enjoy advocacy and learning via Twitter. I appreciate your time and good wishes. If you want to learn more about Ingeniosus and my background, click on the “About” link or send me an email at deborah@ingeniosus.net.

    Until next time, happy tweeting!


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    5 Responses to “Gifted Education and Twitter: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy & Learning – Part III”

    1. Carol Fertig says:

      Each of these three instructional posts about Twitter has been very helpful. Thank you so much for helping us all learn how to navigate through this technology.

    2. Thank you Carol! I consider it a privilege to be a part of the conversation. If we’re all able to navigate this new terrain with more ease and comfort, I believe we can accomplish a lot together.

    3. Ann Hektoen says:

      Hi Deborah, Thanks for all the information about using Twitter. I appreciate your encouraging notes that help me continue to want to learn this new way of communicating. I will definitely try the #gifted and get going!

    4. Takako says:

      Thank you, this is the first time I feel as if I understand Twitter. Thank you much!

    5. Natalie says:


      Thanks so much for all the information about Twitter. I’d signed up for an account some years ago but hadn’t become enamoured with it. Now I can see that it could be of great use!

      Many thanks


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