Cambridge 10 Days of Twitter

Day three: Following people

Say it with words?Now that you’re up and running on Twitter it’s time to grow your network. There’s no magic number of people you need to follow and it depends a lot on what you want to get out of Twitter. You need to have enough people in your network that you receive a decent stream of information but you may find following too many people at first overwhelming, especially if they are very enthusiastic tweeters. Of course you will end up following more people the longer you are on Twitter but don’t worry, there are tools to help you manage your network which we will discuss later in the course.

The easiest way for participants in this course to follow people is to begin by following each other. This link contains a list of those who tweeted yesterday as part of CamDOT. To follow someone just click on their name to bring up their profile and then click the follow button. Please note that if there is a little padlock next to the name this means the person has a protected account and you will need their approval to become a follower.


With Twitter, the best way to develop your network is to let it grow organically:

  • Suggestions: Twitter will suggest accounts for you to follow in a box on the right hand side of your screen. When you first register Twitter will start by suggesting some popular accounts so you will see some celebrities or famous figures. As your network grows and Twitter learns what you like these suggestions will become more intelligent so it’s worth keeping an eye on them (although it will probably still encourage you to follow Katy Perry once in a while!)
  • Followers: Twitter will send you a notification when someone follows you. It’s worth checking out their profiles to see if you would be interested in following them back. You could also explore their follower list for interesting accounts to follow
  • Retweets: If someone retweets your message (shares it with their followers) then this means they have found what you said interesting. Chances are that you have some interests in common so it might be worth following them. We will look at retweets in more depth another day
  • Hashtags: These are tags at the end of the tweet preceded by the # symbol. They are used to group tweets on the same topic together and can show that someone has the same interests as you. Again, we will cover these later in the course
  • #FF or #FollowFriday: Every Friday people on Twitter tweet the names of people they think are worth following. Watch out for these or ask your followers who else you should be following

Below are some suggestions of people/groups to follow to get you started:

  • ‘Celebrity accounts’ and media dons: Following well-known people in academia, especially those in Education, will give you some ideas of Twitter best practice as well as keeping you up to date with developments in the field. You could follow educational researchers such as Tara Brabazon or academics such as Mary Beard
  • Professional bodies: These accounts often tweet about events, news, policy or funding opportunitites. You could try CILIPCILIP East, SLA Europe, the Higher Education Academy or SCONUL
  • Funding bodies: For calls for funding and other news, follow bodies such as the Research Councils UK (@research_uk), or JISC
  • Academic and professional press: Education press such as @TimesHigherEd, @InsideHigherEd or @gdnHigherEd will give you access to news stories which may interest you or your followers. Following their journalists too might be a way to hear about interesting stories or even raise your own profile in the press. Many journals also have their own Twitter accounts which are useful for updates on calls for contributions or new contents
  • Outreach: Following your institution’s account/s can be a great way to keep up to date and get involved. Follow Cambridge University, Cambrige University Library or why not look for other libraries in Cambridge?
  • Other librarians: Cambridge librarians are a very active bunch and lots of them already have well-used Twitter accounts. Check out this list for some of the most prolific Cambridge tweeters
  • Professional networks: These are useful for finding out about events aimed specifically at the information sector. One of the most popular is the LIS New Professionals Network which has details of many opportunities

It’s worth remembering that you don’t need to restrict your network to those in the same sector as you. The beauty of Twitter is that it can open up conversations with people you might not otherwise get a chance to interact with. Making connections is a valuable way of exploring beyond the library sector so why not consider following people from the wider educational world or people who write on technology?

Once you have an established network it’s important to maintain it and this may mean unfollowing people. Interests change over time, both yours and those of people you follow, so you may find unfollowing people is the best thing to do. To unfollow someone you simply click the unfollow button on their profile. It can feel strange the first time that you do this but it is the nature of Twitter. Remember that Twitter is not like sites such as Facebook where following is reciprocal – you can create your own unique network.

So, the only thing left to do now is go forth and follow! Follow the above suggestions, keep an open mind and you will soon find that your network starts to grow. Then you will be able to start putting the information you get from Twitter to use!

Speech bubble photo credit: olalindberg via Photopin cc





Day two: sending tweets

Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters, which doesn’t seem much. In academia, we almost always write at length about complex ideas, so it’s difficult to say something meaningful in such a short amount of text. But that doesn’t mean that Twitter is superficial or only used to tweet about frivolous things. Many people, especially in an HE context, who are new to Twitter aren’t sure what to say, or why updates about whatever they’re doing would be interesting to others. But there are actually many aspects of your day-to-day work that would be of very practical use to others. Have a look at some Twitter feeds from academic tweeters and see what kinds of information they share, to get an idea of how you really can say something useful and engaging in 140 characters.

The appropriate tone for a professional twitter account needn’t be overly formal – you can be chatty and conversational, and allow your personality to come through. In fact, you’ll have to be a bit informal if you want to fit everything in, using abbreviations and even textspeak! Even if tweeting on behalf of a department or group, you need to be engaging rather than formal. Do remember though, if you’re tweeting in any professional capacity, that Twitter is a very public medium, and that your tweets can be kept by others, even if you delete them (more on this on Day 10). Don’t say anything you wouldn’t normally say openly in a work context.

Some examples of what you might tweet about:

  • an article you’re reading that’s interesting or a book you recommend
  • an online resource you’ve stumbled across
  • a workshop, webinar, seminar or conference you’re going to – others may not have known about it, may want to meet you if they’re also going to be there, or may want to ask you about it if they can’t make it
  • a new person you met today who might be a good contact for you or others in future
  • some insight on academic work from an incident that happened today
  • advice, tips or insights into how you teach or research for students or other colleagues
  • a question asked by a student or colleague that made you think
  • slides from a talk or lecture which you’ve just uploaded online
  • your thoughts on an education or other news story relevant to your work
  • a funding, project or job opportunity you’ve just seen
  • a digital tool or software you’re using or problem you’ve solved with it
  • a typical day – an insight into an academic’s life or moral support
  • your new publication or report which has just come out (there are ways of mentioning this gracefully!)

Sending a tweet is really easy – when you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a box on the left hand side, which says ‘Compose a tweet’. If you click in the box, you’ll be able to write your tweet and then click the ‘Tweet’ button. You can also use the feather quill pen icon in the top right of the screen to compose.


Remember – you’re only able to write 140 characters including spaces, and there’s a small counter below this box which tells you how many characters you have left. It will stop you once you go over and highlight how many characters you need to delete. You’ll soon develop a suitably concise style, and learn the tricks to abbreviate your writing, such as using ‘&’ instead of ‘and’. This all adds to the informal tone.

This bit is important – For this second Day of Twitter, as your first message, please send the following tweet- we’ll explain why later!

Joining in #CamDoT to learn more about Twitter!

Over the next week, we’ll be sending the following ten types of tweets. For today, though, just send a few of the first type of tweet over the course of the day, using the examples above. You could include the hashtag #CamDoT in your tweets – again, we’ll explain why later!

  1. A simple message – what are you up to? What kind of event or activity might your intended following find interesting, personable or quirky? You could let them know about an upcoming event they were unaware of or might also be present at, a thought about your research or work that’s just occurred to you, or just show that you’re approachable and share common experiences. Don’t agonise over it though – Twitter is ephemeral in many ways!
  2. (no’s 2-10 are examples of what we’ll be moving on to over the rest of the week) An @ message directed to someone. Ask someone a question, comment or reply to one of their tweets, thank them for a RT or welcome a new follower. NB – don’t start your tweet with the @ sign, as then only the people that follow both of you will see it! either include their @name later in the message or add a full stop .@ before the @ if it’s at the start.
  3. Send a direct message (DM) to someone. What kind of message would need to be private in this way?
  4. A link to something interesting and relevant you’ve read online, or link to a journal or book. Shorten it using Twitter’s automatic tool or a separate one such as tinyURLbitly or  Add a bit of context or comment on it!
  5. Ask a question of your followers – crowdsource their views, ask for tips or advice or recommendations on a topic of mutual interest! Perhaps ask them to retweet (pls RT)
  6. Tweet a link to something you’ve shared online recently- a profile update, slides from a conference presentation, handouts from a workshop. Many platforms can be set up to do this automatically when you update, such as a blog, Slideshare, Storify, LinkedIn, etc. Add an engaging and contextualising comment!
  7. A retweeted, quoted tweet from someone else. Don’t just use Twitter’s retweet button – start with your own comment, then add RT and the @name of the originator or retweeter.
  8. A tweet incorporating a hashtag which links to a wider discussion. Search for your chosen hashtag first, to get a sense of what others use it for and what the discussion has been, and what you can add. Look at tweets from followers for hashtag discussions to join, make one up and see if it’s been used, or try  adding something to an existing hashtag such as #studychat or #infolit
  9. Livetweet an event of some kind, even if only for 10 minutes. You might try a research seminar, conference presentation or lecture. It’s polite to ask permission from the speaker. See if there is a hashtag for the event and if so, use it. Practice summarising the event and distinguishing your comments from the speaker’s.
  10. Take part in a livechat on twitter. #UKedchat, #ECRchat and #PhDchat are popular ones.

We’ll look at nos 2-10 over the next few days. If you can think of any more professional uses for Twitter, then do add them in the comments, or tweet about it!

If you’re thinking of tweeting in an official capacity for your research group or department, then think about the balance of your own announcements to other information (Twitter is still a conversation, not an announcement service, and too much one-way, impersonal promotion will turn off your following!). This presentation from Library Marketing Toolkit has some good tips.


Day one: setting up your Twitter profile

Welcome to 10 Days of Twitter! Let’s get started…

To start off with, you’ll need to sign up to Twitter. You can see people’s tweets without an account, by viewing their profile or by searching for a keyword, as it’s a very public social media channel. Without an account, though, you won’t be able to join in the conversation, and that’s the first and main thing to learn about Twitter:

Twitter is a conversation.

Setting up an account on Twitter is easy – but before you do that there are a few things to think about in terms of creating an engaging and effective profile:

  • your @name (called your handle), which people will use to identify and direct messages to you;
  • your avatar or profile picture, which is how people will pick your tweets out of their Twitter feed;
  • your identifying information, such as your location and personal website or webpage;
  • your ‘bio’ or strapline, which will describe who you are and why people might want to follow you;
  • and the overall look of your Twitter profile, which makes it distinct and memorable when people view it.
  • If you already have a Twitter account, then you might want to take some time to refine your profile taking into account your overall aims and audience, including thinking about whether you feel you need separate accounts for personal and teaching and/or research purposes.

Setting up your Account

If you don’t yet use Twitter, visit the site to set up an account ( We’ll also mention using Twitter to represent a group such as your course or library, but in the first instance, it might be best to explore Twitter in a personal capacity.

 Twitter sign-up screen

  • You’ll first need to enter a real name, email address and password to sign up.

  • At the second stage, you need to think of a username, which will be your @name. This might be some version of your real name or, if your name is common and most variations of it have already been taken, you might think of a professional and memorable pseudonym. Don’t worry – you can change this later, and you can also add your real name to your profile so that it’s identifiably you. This is useful at conferences. If you want to set up an account for a course or library, then something which will be memorable and match other materials will be important.

  • The next steps of signing up on Twitter take you through finding people to follow, but we recommend you skip this step for now. We will come back to finding people to follow on Day Three, but Twitter will ask you to follow at least six people before you can move on to filling out your profile, so we suggest you follow these accounts as a good start:

Individual members of the CamDoT team:

There is also a list of Cambridge library tweeters which you can check out now if you’d like (we’ll mention it again later in the course as well).

The next thing you should do is start to fill out your profile, so that when people look at it, they will feel encouraged to follow you.

  1. Upload a profile picture. When skimming through a Twitter feed of all the people they follow, an eye-catching profile picture will help them pick your tweets out. It could be your face, if you have a good, clear shot of your face (useful in identifying you when you meet followers at face-to-face events). It could also be an abstract image which somehow reflects your @name. Make sure the image is clear enough, as it appear as a small icon. Don’t leave your profile picture as the default Twitter ‘egg’ or ‘profile head’ – this suggests that you are either very new to Twitter or a spammer! You can also add a ‘Header’ image which customises your profile page a little more.

  2. Add your real name, if you wish. This will appear on your profile, so if you use a pseudonym and abstract picture, your Twitter account can still be identifiably ‘you’. If you are using Twitter to represent a module, course or department then the full version of its title would be something to add here.

  3. Add a location. Your followers might be from anywhere in the country or the world, so this gives people a bit more context about which university you are affiliated with.

  4. Add a URL to a personal website or webpage. People can then find out more about you than is possible in your Twitter profile.

  5. Add a ‘bio’. You have 160 characters to sum up who you are and what you might be tweeting about, to give people a reason to follow you. A blank or minimal bio isn’t very inviting, and suggests that you are too new to be interesting, that there is little to be gained from following you, or you are a spam account. A well-thought out bio is an important part of gaining new followers. Why not have a look at the bios on other tweeters’ profiles, and see what you find inviting or off-putting? If you intend to tweet in a professional capacity, it’s best to avoid too much about your hobbies and family or quirky, cryptic statements about yourself. Be aware of the public nature of the medium and conscious of your digital footprint at all times.

  6. You can connect your Twitter account to post automatically to your Facebook  account too, if you have one. Think carefully about the two audiences for Facebook and Twitter- is this something you want to do? Or would you rather keep them separate?

  7. People will often view your profile page when deciding whether to follow you, and you might give out the URL to your profile page e.g. on your email signature or business card if you want to ask someone to follow you, so it is worth making it informative and distinctive. Today we’re mostly looking at the information in the tab at the top labelled ‘Me’, which is where people will find your profile:

Day 1_snip 1

Explore customising your Twitter profile page in the Settings.

Click on the cog icon at the top, and select Settings. In the Settings, you can:

  • Change your Header image – the one that sits behind your avatar. Go to Profile to upload an image.

  • Change the Background of the whole page under Design, using one of the pre-made themes or design and upload your own.



You can create more Twitter accounts, associated with different email accounts, if you wish. These might be for other facets of your online life, such as personal contacts, or to represent your research interests. It’s best not to mix audiences too much – for example, if you use Twitter for a hobby, then a separate account for professional purposes means that you aren’t filling people’s Twitter feeds with things that don’t interest them. It’s fine to add a personal touch to your professional tweets though!

Now, to let us know how you’re getting on, why not fill in this very short form with your Twitter handle and a link to the URL of your profile? Or if you have any other comments or questions, let us know.

So you have an account on Twitter now, with an engaging profile which invites others to follow your tweets. That’s enough for day one and you’re already halfway to earning your first CamDot badge!


CamDoT is adapted from Ten Days of Twitter for Learning Developers by Helen Webster which is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


origin_8233985868 cropped resizedWelcome to CamDoT! (#camdot on Twitter). This is a 10-day, online course for library staff of Cambridge University to teach the basics of using Twitter. It should be a great way to get started with Twitter or brush up on your Twitter skills if you want to practice. Each topic should only take a few minutes for you to complete each day — so not a major time commitment! 

By the end of the course, we hope you’ll feel more comfortable using Twitter, and hopefully will see it as an important professional — and of course, social — tool. There are many library folks from Cambridge (and beyond) on Twitter, and it is a great communication tool for sharing ideas and learning about new developments in the library world.

The class will run 11 August – 22 August. What will the course cover?

  • Day 1: Setting up your Twitter profile
  • Day 2: Sending Tweets
  • Day 3: Following people
  • Day 4: Sending @messages
  • Day 5: Tweeting URLs
  • Day 6: Retweeting
  • Day 7: Hashtags (especially #camlibs)
  • Day 8: Managing people
  • Day 9: Managing information
  • Day 10: Past and future

Each day, a new post will go up on this blog at 10.00 am, and then members of the CamDoT team will be available throughout the day to tweet with you, answer questions, etc. Along the way, you’ll be able to earn cool badges to mark your accomplishments!

Interested? Click here to sign up for the course. (It’s fine if you cannot do all 10 days, or want to do them at your leisure.)

The CamDot team is:

For more information, please contact Meg Westbury by email, Ryan Cronin by email or any of the team via Twitter.

CamDoT is adapted from Ten Days of Twitter for Learning Developers by Helen Webster which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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