I’ve been evangelizing the use of Twitter for as long as I’ve had this blog. In fact, I joined Twitter before I even started blogging. At times, I’ve taken some heat for my enthusiasm for Twitter, and I still wish some of my family members would join so we can stay in touch a bit better, but so be it.
I’ve been thinking about my use of Twitter a lot lately, primarily because I’ve had the privilege of getting a sneak preview at Dom Sagolla‘s book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. Dom and I have become friends since meeting on Twitter and discovering many mutual interests, like surfing, skateboarding, and long walks on the beach. Dom was one of the core founders of Twitter and was there at its inception, although he doesn’t work for the company itself. Instead, he’s been spending his time crafting a very sophisticated personal style on Twitter, and his book expands upon ways that other users can more effectively communicate in 140 characters. Needless to say, I highly recommend it. Go get it. Now.
Having read through The Book in the last few weeks, one of the points that struck me the most is one that I’ve hit upon many times in the past: compartmentalization. Many people create Twitter accounts in order that they have a relatively specific purpose. For example, as a teacher, I follow many other teachers. However, I think a lot of these teachers use their Twitter account almost exclusively for education purposes, and as such, aren’t really looking for people who tweet about surfing, or Giants games, or any of the other things I commonly tweet about. In fact, if I had to tally it up, I probably use focus less than 10% of my Twitter conversation on teaching, despite the fact that being a teacher is a huge part of my identity. (Why that is the case is an entirely different question, one that I may end up addressing in this blog, or that I may not.) In fact, there are various surveys that describe the type of Twitter user that you are, and describe you as an over-user, one that is too unfocused, one that posts too many links, etc etc.
Dom’s answer to this question is one that I think several people have also tapped into: multiple accounts. Rather than have one account that is supposed to encompass all that you are, divvy it up a bit. This is pretty sound advice, as it allows you to sharpen your writing a bit, and also is a good way to prevent overload. For example, if you update 10 times a day from one account, as compared to once a day from 10 accounts, and assuming each account has a relatively unique set of followers, you don’t worry about over-use.
As such, in thinking about all of this, and my personal use of Twitter (which is aggressive for sure, and relatively spastic in content) I spent a bit of the morning creating a handful of different Twitter accounts. I’m very excited to experiment with them, and see how I can manage multiple accounts. I’m hoping that better organizing my short form writing will trickle over into another promise I’m hoping to fulfill this year, which is living a better organized life in general: in my house, in my classroom, my office, car, etc.
Now of course, none of this would be possible if I was only relying upon the Twitter webpage. Multiple accounts mandates a service that accommodates multiple accounts, and the one I’ve gone with is Tweetie. Yup, that means that for the first time, I paid for an iPhone app. (It was $2.99, I think I can handle it.) I’ve also downloaded the (free) desktop app for my Mac, so I can use it in two different settings. I’ve been encouraged on multiple occasions to use Tweetie, and I’m siked to take the plunge.
So for my last weekend before school starts, I’m going to try and shuffle my follows and followers a bit to better suit these multiple accounts, and then the floodgates will open and I’ll see how I do with this new approach to using Twitter. As I have said throughout this post, I’m looking forward to it. I want to use Twitter effectively, to communicate with people meaningfully, and I think in order to do that, I need to sharpen my thoughts more than I have.. And for your interest, here they are:
@marklukach. This is my first account, and the one I will likely use the most. It will be the one that reflects my thoughts, habits, and overall life. It is through this account that I have made many good friends, and I hope to continue to do so. From here I will post when I update my blog, create new videos, all that good stuff.
@mrlukach. This will be my teacher account. I’m siked to try and expand this one, and to be able to strategically connect with teachers. Teachers on Twitter are a funny crowd. They can go totally overboard in posting links to new lesson plans, articles, etc with like 30 posts a day, and can also be totally snobby about who they follow. “I want no personal details!” seems to be a mantra of many teachers. With this in mind, I think @mrlukach should work relatively well. It’s also pretty witty to create a teacher account for Mr. Lukach, no?
@stoked. I’m trying to replace my favorite hashtag, #stoked, with an actual account, @stoked. This is blatant use of Dom’s book, reflecting some of his accounts like @surf and @work. I’m hoping that other Twitter users will find @stoked as a place to share Peter Pan-esque happy thoughts. And I mean look at that avatar.
@oceanbeach. I adore Ocean Beach, live very close to it, and reflect upon its mystery and rhythms quite a bit. This account will be suited for my surf and ocean obsession, where I will try to post not just surf reports, but general reports on the beach. Is it a good day for a walk on the beach, or is the blowing sand going to ruin it, are sharks running wild? You catch my drift.
@augustusbulldog. This account has been around for a while, and is a place where I can indulge my obsession with my 10 month old bulldog, Augustus, with other crazy dog people. I tend to post a lot of pictures of the little bastard up here. Truth is, I don’t really engage people on this account much, more just post stuff about the dog. Although I’m a crazy dog person, crazy dog people kinda scare me.
@daraja. This was the 2nd Twitter account I created, many months ago, but it has been under-nourished. It’s the account for the Daraja Academy of Kenya, the all-girls school in Kenya for which I am a board member. This account will be how I can try and connect Daraja to the rest of the world through social media. Now that Tweetie’s up and running, I plan on being much more active with this account, and trying to network more effectively.
@lastminutepress. This account is for the school newspaper that I will be monitoring for this coming school year. It will be collectively updated by me and by the student staff members that write for the paper. I think that this could be a fun account since it will be a group effort.
I hope to see you online, through one of (or many of) these accounts. Tootles.