I’m just a student. What should I tweet about?

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Social media advice :), Useful advice for students
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I hear this a lot from students who are just getting started on Twitter:

I’m just a student. I’m still learning. I don’t really have something that interesting to say… So, what should I tweet about?

First, stop underestimating yourself. You’re way more interesting than you think!

Second, you know the question that Twitter asks, “What’s happening?” Ignore that. Replace it with the question: “What has your attention right now?”

Let me elaborate these two points:

You’re more interesting than you think

Many people, those who are older than you, or those outside the university, are very interested in you. They’re interested in knowing:

  • what you think
  • what you think about
  • what you’re learning

There are several reasons for this, such as people wanting to keep in touch with the young generation. It is, for them, a way of staying informed and young :). Another reason is that it’s been a while since these people went to college. There are lots of smart, curious people on Twitter, who are really interested in finding out what students learn these days. So, stop assuming you are not interesting. Even the mundane things, such as what you’re reading for class, and what music you’re listening to, are much more interesting than you think.

What has your attention right now?

Keep in mind that with every Tweet that you post, you construct your online identity – an image of yourself online. It is, of course, important to be careful and mindful about how your represent yourself. A much better and more interesting way of presenting yourself is to answer, on Twitter, the question “What has your attention?” rather than “What’s happening?” So, mention on Twitter the things you’re focusing on at the moment. Some examples:

  • You probably are (or should be) spending a lot of time on class readings. Any interesting ideas from class readings? You probably think that’s the most boring thing ever, but that’s actually one of the most interesting things you can tweet about. It’s good for your online identity management, because it shows people what you’re learning – a potential employer would be really interested in that!
  • Share links – what are you reading online? Share links to research articles, blog posts, magazine articles, news articles – things you read on a usual basis, show us what has your attention. Show us you are reading things, you are curious, eager to stay informed.
  • Promote your blog posts. You just wrote a new post. Maybe you’re proud of it. Maybe you need some input. Or just the reassurance that someone reads it. Share the permalink on Twitter. Twitter etiquette recommends you specify in your tweet that the link is a blog post and provide a hint about the post’s topic. For example: “What should students Tweet about? New blog post: http://link.to.post”
  • What are you thinking about? – Yes, your thoughts and reactions to your environment are interesting. They show people a bit of who you are, by showing them how you think. So, a bit of commentary and reactions are interesting.
  • Post pictures. See something interesting, pretty, or a cute animal? Share a photo. Use twitpic, yfrog, or a similar service for sharing photos to Twitter. Be careful, though. Don’t post photos that would embarrass you later.
  • What are you having for lunch? – OK, this is a no-no. Usually. Unless you’re having something very interesting and exotic, which shows what an interesting person you are. Or you cooked it yourself, and you’re really proud of it. And you post a picture ;). Or you want us to join you and are letting us know where you are.
  • Retweets. Retweet others’ tweets that you find interesting. Retweeting, in Twitter culture, is used to either share information with your followers (like an email forward), or to show endorsement of an idea.
  • Ask questions. There’s a real talent to asking a good question that stimulates conversation. If you have a question, ask.
  • Last but not least, @ replies.Engage people. Give them attention.

Try to mix it up, don’t do too much of just one thing.

On the other side of the coin, here’s some serious advice on what NOT to tweet about, and some funny advice on the same topic.

Need more Twitter advice? See previous blog posts I’ve written about Twitter as well as posts on social media advice.

Need even MORE advice, or have a tip to share? That’s what the comments are for!

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Comments
  1. lewilliams says:

    I think by simply questioning “What has your attention right now?” as opposed to “What’s happening” is really a better way to tackle the issue of what to tweet. If there is something of enough interest to you, it should be able to interest others too and therefore is worth sharing.

    Thanks for the helpful blog post! Potential topics seem so obvious now that they are visible in this list and has me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

  2. narayun says:

    Thanks for the advice! This was a good self esteem booster to encourage more tweeting:-) That was actually something I was actually worried about. I have the tenancy to get annoyed when someone changes their Facebook status updates too often so I get a bit “scared” to tweet too often. But this is a different medium, right?

    • Mihaela says:

      Nara, yes, this is a different medium – Twitter is faster than Facebook, and it is perfectly acceptable to tweet multiple times a day.