Some people reading the title of this blog post may claim not to be bothered when they’re ‘unfollowed’ on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. I don’t believe them.* 😉
Most people on Twitter also have a blog. The reason you have a blog rather than write in a personal diary is to share your ideas with the world. You’d like to influence others in some way.
As a result, whether you like it or not, if you’ve got a blog you’re in the marketing business. You are (potentially) a global micro-brand.
All this sounds a bit business-like, especially for an educator with a professed aim to change the education system for the better. But, as I have blogged about recently, our ideas gaining acceptance is one way to achieve a sort of immortality. And if we do want to change the education system, we need to influence as many people as possible! 😀
So yes, you do need to be concerned when people ‘unfollow’ you on Twitter. One or two may not be a problem, but if there’s somewhat of an exodus, it means that they’re not getting what they thought you’d be delivering. Let’s see how we can make sure that state of affairs doesn’t obtain…
1. Speak in full sentences
When I teach lessons that involve students answering questions, I stress the importance of making sure they don’t start their answer to a question with ‘because’, and that they explain the context. Otherwise, when they come to revise, they won’t ‘get it’. Similarly with Twitter, you’re not just having a conversation with another individual – people who are following you are also listening. Don’t say ‘it’ – say what you mean and link to what you’re talking about (if relevant) – and in every tweet involved.
2. ‘Direct message’ people more
Just because someone’s used an @ reply to you (e.g. @dajbelshaw: my interesting message) doesn’t mean you have to do likewise to them. If what you’re going to say is unlikely to interest others apart from that individual, send them a direct message. Just be sure to double-check that you’re following them as well, otherwise it could be slightly embarrassing. I talk from experience… 😮
3. Don’t binge-tweet
I use FriendFeed as well as Twitter. FriendFeed summarises when someone sends more than one tweet in quick succession. Yesterday, someone I follow posted 25 messages in quick succession. When you’re following hundreds of people, that’s too much to handle. Be focused.
I’m always very aware that my tweets are one of the first things you see when you visit dougbelshaw.com. That means I try to keep the most recent tweet fairly interesting and relevant to both Twitter followers and visitors to my site. If I post a reply which may be useful to others but fairly geeky, I try to follow it up quickly with something of greater relevance.
These ideas may not work for everyone, but they work for me. What do you use Twitter for? What are your tips for using it?
* This post came about after a discussion about a new service called Qwitter that emails you when someone stops following you on Twitter.
(Image by Mykl Roventine @ Flickr)
If the following leaves you confuzzled, the BBC have a useful guide to RSS which you should probably read!
If you’re anything like me, you read a wide range of things on t’Internet and, along the way, subscribe to a fair number of RSS feeds. On a couple of occasions I’ve just found the sheer number of blog posts ‘unread’ in my feedreader overwhelming. I ended up just unsubscribing from them all and starting again.
Now, though, I’ve found a system that enables me to keep on top of things. It’s a combination of a really useful web service and a Firefox plugin that works with Google Reader.
Most websites only offer one RSS feed. I have a separate RSS feed for each category, but Lifehacker, for example, goes one step further in having a ‘top posts’ feed. You can actually do this for every RSS feed you come across using AideRSS.
All you do is visit the website, give the website address and it comes up looking something like the screenshot below:
As you can see, there’s an RSS feed for the ‘Good Posts’, ‘Great Posts’, ‘Best Posts’ and ‘Top 20’ posts. The PostRank that you see on the left-hand side takes into account:
- The number of times that blog post has been bookmarked on del.icio.us
- How many comments the blog post received
- The number of other blogs and websites referencing the post
- How many times the blog post has been ‘dugg’ at Digg.com
- The number of tweets from Twitter.com linking to the post
It’s out of 10 and is only relative to that particular site, being the top 20%, etc.
If you do this for blogs that update very frequently, it’s easier to deal with the firehose… :-p
I’ve been using a plugin called Feedly for the last few months. It’s basically a front-end for Google Reader in that you have to have a Google account for it to work. Feeds are presented in a very good looking magazine-like format:
There’s some great social features of Feedly as well – not least, The Wall:
Although perhaps the screenshot above doesn’t do it justice, The Wall features recommendations from other Feedly users’ that you’ve ‘subscribed’ to. It’s a fantastic feature.
Don’t forget Twitter and FriendFeed. The things your friends on social networks share are likely to be of interest to you as well! 😀
How do YOU keep on top of your unread blog posts from RSS feeds?
I’m always on the lookout for ways in which I can be more productive and increase my creative outputs. Time is precious when you’re a teacher, husband and father! Whilst I recommend you subscribe to blogs like Lifehacker and Lifehack.org directly, I’d like to share with you some of the tips and ‘lifehacks’ I’ve found useful recently:
If you’re not using FriendFeed yet, you should be! I’ve been using it for a couple of months and find it very useful. It’s like the river of news and updates you get on Facebook (or at least last time I checked). The difference is that it’s people in the edublogosphere so it’s things related directly to professional learning. The quality of links, recommendations, etc. I get through FriendFeed means that I actually check my feed reader less often now (and use Feedly instead of Google Reader when I do…)
2. Firefox Extensions
I’ve already blogged about Stylish and Feedly, but it’s amazing how much Firefox extensions (addons) can improve your productivity. Take a couple recommended by Lifehacker recently:
- Tree Style Tabs – allows you to hierarchically organize tabs in a vertical manner in your sidebar. Much more useful than it sounds!
- Picnik – allows you to capture and edit screenshots online.
- Zemanta – adds features when creating blog posts like related articles, suggested tags, links to Wikipedia articles, etc.
It’s worth trawling through the Mozilla Firefox addons site and/or doing a Google search for recommended extensions. There’s some great one out there! 🙂
3. How Priorities Make Things Happen
I know from experience that I work much better and in a more focused way if I’m working to a deadline. In fact, I purposely don’t start things until, for example, I’ve only got 24 hours left to complete it. Otherwise, I procrastinate and then, when finished, endlessly tinker to make things ‘just right’.
In a Lifehacker post about a book entitled How Priorities Make Things Happen, this is put into a more structured and easy-to-understand (and follow) form:
The easiest way to make a goal meaningful is to use ordered lists and a high priority one bar. These two simple tools force you to make tough decisions early. An ordered list simply means putting your goals in priority order, most important at the top, least important at the bottom. Divide that list in half: the top are things you must do, or die (Priority 1). The rest are things you hope to do, but can live without (Priority 2). Make your priority 1 list as small as possible: set a high bar. The smaller your list of must do’s, the easier they are to achieve. You will face waves of conflicting emotions as you decide what is truly important, but once you settle on priorities the hard decisions will be behind you.
4. Share Your Secrets To Be The Change
I’ve always shared pretty much everything I’ve ever produced – from my university essays/theses to resources I use in the classroom. Others have been flabbergasted by this approach, finding it strange that I should give away for free what I’ve put so much work into. I have the opposite approach – I get back so much more than I give. I’m sure others reading this have found the same.
It’s for the above reasons that I found Share Your Secrets To Be The Change, a post on Lifehack.org, to be so affirming. I especially liked the bits about sharing ‘making your life happier’ and making you into a ‘hero’. Knowing that I’ve got an audience certainly makes me more productive.
5. Top Ten Modern Life Survival Skills
It’s all very well these websites that show you how to start a fire using a Coke can and a piece of chocolate, but how many of us will actually ever need to do that? Really useful ‘modern survival skills’ can give you more control over your life; ergo more time and therefore productivity.
A post on Lifehacker entitled Top Ten Modern Life Survival Skills includes this gem:
Ever notice how putting your hand on your clock radio tends to clarify and boost the signal? You can use that same body-as-extended-antenna trick to locate your car in a stuffed parking lot. Hold your remote opening fob against your skull, hit the alarm (or beep-beep locking button), and you’ll locate your vehicle from farther away.
Have YOU got any productivity tips/hacks you’ve come across recently you’ve found useful? Share them in the comments section! 😀
(Image credit: branching out by shapeshift @ Flickr)