WM ADASS – introduction to Twitter

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National children and adult services conference 2013 (Harrogate)

Increasing numbers of leaders in adult social care are using Twitter to share information, ideas and to make connections. If you are new to using Twitter there are many myths and fears that people have about the use of social media and how it can go wrong or be a time stealer for already busy people.
This is a simple guide produced for DASS attending the #NCASC13 seminar

by Pete Jackson, Head of Adult Social Care, IEWM

1.Set up your account

The best way to set up is get someone who already has an account to sit with you and go through the process.

Go to ’Twitter’ to get started. Enter your name, email, and a password. Click ” Sign up”. You will be taken to a second screen where you can select a username. This is the name by which you will be known on Twitter.

What name should you use? Your real name is best—if it’s available. If not, you can try using a middle initial or prefacing it with something like “the” or “real” (e.g., @pete62jackson ).

Now click on the “Create my account” button. That’s it. You are now an official member of the Twitter community. Next, Twitter will help you in getting started. It will explain what a tweet is and give you the opportunity to “follow” a few friends, popular people, or brands. You can opt out of these steps for now if you wish.

Simply click the “Skip this step” link. Twitter will also give you a chance to see if some of your friends are on Twitter by checking your online address book. Your contacts will have to be in one of the supported services: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL. Also, you’ll only see users who have allowed their accounts to be found by email address.

2. Tweak your settings

Make sure you are on your Twitter home page. Click on the “Settings” link. You should be on the “Account” tab. Set the time zone. Do not check “Protect my updates” unless you only want those whom you approve to be able to get your updates. If you check this, it will seriously limit the uses of Twitter to you. Make whatever other changes you want. Click the “Save” button. Now click on the “Profile” tab. Upload your picture or a logo. This is important. Many Twitter users will not follow users without photos, because it is a tell-tale sign of a spammer. Remember that the maximum upload size of your photo is 700k, so you may have to re-size your image to meet this requirement. Enter the rest of your information, including your location, website or blog (if any), and a brief bio. This, too, is important to keep you from getting flagged as a possible spammer. Your bio can either be serious or fun, but it must be brief—no more than 160 characters mention that you are a member of ADASS so that other members will be able to find you. You can also connect your Twitter account to Facebook on this page. This will post all your Tweets directly to Facebook. You might not want to do this unless you are happy for you family and friends see work related messages and vice versa. When you are finished, click the ” Save” button.

3. Set up your phone

Twitter is much more interesting if you connect it to your phone. By doing so, you can receive updates from those you are following (or just some of them) as well as send your own updates on the go. While Twitter doesn’t charge anything for this service, your phone company might. It’s a good idea to check with them and make sure you are on an unlimited messaging or internet plan, or your phone is connected to a WiFi. You don’t want to be surprised with a big phone bill.

4. Follow family, friends and ADASS members

If you haven’t done so already, follow your family, friends and @adassdclowde which is the official twitter account for ADASS. Scroll down the @adassdclowde news feed to view and follow people that @adassdclowde is following. This will get you started with some familiar names. You can begin “following” them by simply clicking on the “Follow” button.

5. Learn the basic commands

Think of Twitter as the audience at ADASS Spring conference, some standing and some sitting in a circle around in a workshop. It’s a conversation. When you update your status, you are speaking to the whole crowd. Everyone can hear what you have to say. Replies. If you want to direct your comments to one specific person in the crowd, but loud enough that everyone else can hear, use the “Reply” function. You address the person by using their Twitter user name preceded by the “@” symbol. For example:

@peterhay what do you think of the Francis report?

Everyone who is following @peterhay and me will see the message, but I am specifically directing it to @peterhay. People who are not following either of us will not see the message.

You can also use the “Reply” function to refer to someone by name.For example:

That was a great speech @SandieKeene

I think she has had a great presidential year.

The thing about replies is that they are “clickable links”. If someone who is following me, clicks on one of the names, they will automatically go to that person’s Twitter page. This will give them the opportunity to follow that person too.

Direct Messages. Continuing with the metaphor of a conversation with everyone at the Spring Conference, you can also use the “direct message” function. This is like whispering in one person’s ear.

They can hear you, but no one else can. You are directing the message to them and only them. For example:

@jack_z21 fancy meeting up after this session for a beer? Or: D @eddieX12 what do you think of that last statement?

Twitter direct messages replace simple text messaging.

Hash tags. You are probably familiar with tagging photos with a short piece of text. Twitter has this capability too.

The # symbol, called a hash tag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. If you click on a hash tag, it will show you all the other tweets associated with a hash tag.

A lot of social care professionals who are on Twitter use #socialcare. This enables everyone who is interested in social care to track what everyone is saying about it. For example, someone might say:

What do people in #socialcare think about the #winterbourneview report?

#winterbourneview is the hash tag being used by people following the outcomes from the various reports.

6. Start tweeting

So now you are all set up. It’s time to start tweeting. You can do this from your Twitter home page or from your phone using Twitter app. The main thing you need to know is that the message can be no longer than 140 characters. If you use the Web page, the entry field will automatically count your characters. After a while, you’ll get to know how long this is. If you go over the limit, it’s no big deal. Your message will just be truncated.

How often should you Tweet? It is up to you – at the start you might just want to read what others are saying and then, as you start to get the feel of it, start to post things yourself. Some directors post 5-10 tweets a day, others once or twice a week.

7. Some useful insights

  • The real issue is whether or not you are adding something to the discussion and spreading the message about what the issues are in social care and what they mean to you and what you and your staff are doing about it.
  • In like manner, no one wants to hear the whole of your work day routine. However, some insights and humour is good. This is definitely not science but you should try and reflect your values, respect others and try and be positive!
  • Regardless, you should think about every Twitter update as you are developing a reputation with your online friends and the colleagues you are writing about, so make sure you are adding something to the conversation.
  • This is really no different than a face-to-face conversation. You want to say something that is interesting, helpful, or just plain entertaining. You shouldn’t over-think it, but I don’t think you should just text the first thing that pops in your mind either.
  • You need to think about the fact that litigious people and family carers and service users have Twitter accounts, too. You especially need to be cautious about sharing too much private information that could compromise your safety or that of your friends. Twitter is best learned by using it. By using it to follow ADASS you will find other uses for it in other parts of your life. The best thing to do is get started. You really can’t make that many mistakes. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the people you meet and use it as another way to support #socialcare.

Contact me at pjackson@westmidlandsiep.gov.uk or @pete62jackson

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