This weekend I celebrated a milestone online, I reached over 3,000 followers on Twitter. Now, to not sound like a teenager who just got a 1,000 likes on their Instagram picture, this was a huge deal. This time last year I had just made it over 1,200 followers. Which means in a year’s time I gained over 1,800 and when I started using my Twitter account for my education lessons in 2011, I only had just over 200 followers, which means in four years I have really come a long way. What happened? I originally joined Twitter when I was working on a podcast in 2009 and I usually just posted updates for the podcast and my now shut down comic book blog. I reached over 80 followers in less than two months but after that I was on anyone’s radar. Just another guy on Twitter and I almost decided to get off the social network in 2010 following my job lost. I was convinced that social networks like Facebook and Twitter and yes, Instagram were going to keep me from getting a job and I couldn’t talk about it. Yet, that same advice ended up being the opposite in 2012 when I was facing unemployment again and the use of the networks brought me to my current job that I have loved the last three years.
This leads me to the point of this post, why have I gone from barely having over a 100 followers to almost 3K? Simple, I started sharing posts and ideas that people enjoyed. When I was working my podcast in 2009 I was just another comic book reader in a sea of other users. I didn’t really cover anything that had been out there before except a few interviews with known creators. I left the podcast in 2010 to focus on my new marriage at the time and in doing so, I stopped posting what I really enjoyed talking about and in doing so, others left in the process. It was a friend of mine who was a teacher too who told met to start sharing my lessons in 2011 that brought me back to Twitter. Sadly, I hid these posts from family members who thought I was wasting my time doing it. However, in doing so I started establishing my Professional Learning Network on Twitter and not only did my followers start growing but my inspiration did too. I can’t count the number of times another educator didn’t inspire my work and in doing so, I posted these lessons or projects and made sure I included them. After all you cite your sources. Next thing I know, I’m being included on Tech Education lists, other educators are sharing their ideas and we are collaborating and all of a sudden I’m in the 1K mark of followers. In doing so, I decided to start coming up with more amazing ideas on my own and sharing them and before I knew it I jumped from 1K to 2K in a few short weeks and not months.
Something you have to remember when you are on Twitter, people are not following you because you are doing something someone else is doing, you are taking it to another level or being inventive with it. You also have to not just stay in your safe zone. Despite Education is my main use of Twitter these days, I still talk about comic books and movies. I also have reached a new area since publishing my first book and there has been a whole other world opened up in this process that was something I never thought would be possible even in the social network. So, after my little story here are my 3 simple rules:
1. Share what you create but don’t forget to tag those who have inspired you or meets what others are trying to do or learn. You will learn about social networks, you have to include others in what you do. Every time I create something with Stick Around or Teach Like a Pirate, I make sure I include those like Tony Vincent, Dave Burgess, Kasey Bell in those posts. They see they inspire the creativity and also share it with those they know will love reading and creating the lessons themselves.
2. Don’t limit yourself, just because you are focused say on science doesn’t mean what you share can’t reach other areas like PE, Maker Spaces or daily life.
3. Share both your ideas, successes and failures. We love sharing our creative ideas and especially our success stories but somethings things don’t work out as planned. Sharing what didn’t work (not a sob story) not only will show others what not to do but also help you succeed the next time through. Don’t be afraid to tell about your unsuccessful stories too. Remember F.A.I.L., First Attempt In Learning. You will find out when we stumble there are plenty of people to help us back up.