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Home > News and views > Getting started with Twitter 

Getting started with Twitter 

Twitter is the place to find breaking news and what people are talking about right now. Depending on whom, or which hashtags (more on this later), you follow, this could be anything from world events to the latest from Bake Off, and anything in between. Here at the ESU, we use Twitter to keep in touch with the worlds of education, public speaking, debate and oracy, as well as with members, alumni and schools participating in our competitions. Just as importantly, we also use it to tell people about what we do and to show other schools and teachers (many of whom are active Twitter users) what they are missing!
We’d love you to get involved too. By collaborating effectively, we can spread the word and welcome more schools than ever before.
Here are our tips on how to get started – it’s super easy!

1. Create a Twitter account 
Go to twitter.com/signup and fill in your details as requested.

2. Pick a username or ‘handle’
This is the name followers see and use when sending replies, mentions and Direct Messages (DMs). Twitter will suggest some available options (the most obvious eg firstname.surname may already be taken). Choose a good quality profile picture – this shows you are a real person rather than a bot and makes people more likely to follow you.

3. Write your bio 
This is where you introduce yourself and give a sense of your interests and personality – all in 160 characters or under. Something like ‘Retired teacher, #ESU public speaking judge and believer that all children need a voice’ should do it.

Adding hashtags (such as #ESU) means that people can find you more easily (as people often follow hashtags about topics they’re interested in) so you may want to add some other relevant hashtags eg #oracy, #debate, #PSC #discoveryourvoice.

4. Tweet! 
Tweets are short snippets of information that allow users to share their news with potentially larger audiences. A tweet consists of 280 characters max (the length of the italic section of this paragraph), so make your words count. Think about what it is you would like people to know or do. Are you trying to recruit new schools in your area? Would you like them to join the audience for a competition? Do you want to tell them about who won or what a fun time you had?

Good photos tend to get higher engagement so perhaps use a picture of the venue or of you and your fellow judges. NB Unless you have express permission, you will not be allowed to share images of the young people in the competition. If your picture is uninteresting or low quality, it’s better to do without.

As with your bio, remember to add some hashtags so that people can find your news. You may also wish to tag or @ other users (usually people who are in some way involved with or who you think would be interested in the event). These may be the schools and the teachers involved, other judges and of course, the ESU’s official Twitter account @theESU. Doing this will alert them to your tweet, and means they can retweet it, allowing your news to travel further. If you are tweeting about competition winners, it would be a great idea to tag your local newspapers to share the news. Eg:

Great regional final @ESU #PSC tonight! @Bristolschoolone was narrowly pipped to the post by @Bristolschooltwo Our congratulations to everyone involved. #oracy #publicspeaking #discoveryourvoice @Bristollocalnewspaper @otherjudge

5. Connect with others 
As in life, conversations aren’t great if they’re only one way. We want to interact with others, to hear their views and find out what’s going on in their lives. To connect with people, start by searching for hashtags or people that interest you, and then follow as you wish. Liking, retweeting and commenting on Tweets from other schools, judges or similar organisations allows you to share ideas and create a wider community of likeminded people. It also means people are more likely to directly engage with your posts, and people will begin to recognise your profile more often.

6. Stay active 
It’s easy to only use Twitter when we have something really exciting or interesting to tell people. However, the key to long-term, stronger engagement is to stay active and tweet regularly, which will help your tweets reach a wider audience.

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