5 Tweeting Tips for Educators

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shutterstock_292272821 Hong Kong, China - July 23, 2011: Macro image of clicking the Twitter icon on an iPad screen


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

What social media advice would you share with educators?

This is a post to share works for me; to help share with educators how one can use social media to improve reach and engagement in a personal capacity.

One year ago, I wrote 10 Tips for Tweeting Teachers which proved very popular. In this blog, which 35,000 of you have read across the world; I divided the post into strategies for the beginner, intermediate and advanced to help teachers of various abilities get to grips with this amazing tool.

Assuming the reader is savvy with social media, blogging and IT tools to help manage content, I have re-written this post to focus on exposure in 5 smarter tips for advanced users of social media. In this post, I share my secrets and explain what works for me to help me work smarter, not harder.

Mastering the Tools:

1.There is a small battle to be won when first creating an account with Twitter. Not only do you need to learn how it works, but there is a pain threshold to break through; to understand how the platform works; to discover the various shorthand codes; Twitter etiquette and what and how each interaction means with strangers and/or people you build relationships up with.

My single piece of advice would be to define what you want to use Twitter for: this will help you understand how you want to use it in the first place. You can read here about Social Media Advice Your Headteacher Shouldn’t See! In this post I share how anonymous accounts have attacked me with unsavoury critique and unwelcome advice. Just make sure your headteacher doesn’t find out!

The Twitter glossary includes vocabulary and terminology used to talk about features and aspects of Twitter. And if you are really confused, start off my 3 simple tips for Twitter Beginners.

shutterstock_180226871 Social media hashtag tweet. Businessman in white shirt with a black tie showing or holding business card

Image: Shutterstock

Content is King:

2. Some users will use Twitter to have conversations or simple to push out content. My strategy is to do both, but manage them well in moderation. Time when you reply to conversations, sometimes saving replies for a quieter period of time when you may have less to say, or may be less distracted. This can be even more difficult in heated conversations where disagreement is had, and when 140 characters is not quite enough content.

So, ‘saving’ tweets for another time is an ideal opportunity to take the heat out of any conversation and give you a moment or two to reflect on what reply is needed (if at all). A blog can also help support further content to tweets to help promote thought, content or resources. Here is one example where my tweet caused a fuss, yet the blog hyperlinked provided the context.

shutterstock_282174338 Internet content marketing sketch on blue background over notebook.

Image: Shutterstock

You can read How Do You Do It? which answers the most frequently asked question I hear. I explain how I balance my personal life as a father and as a education-blogger, as well as the demands of being a deputy headteacher.

No matter what you do, content is king, as well as your own frequency, moderation and level of critique. For me, avoid challenging individuals and challenge collective thought from watchdogs, companies and bodies. Here is an example.


  1. In my experience, ‘the ideal tweet‘ contains the following formula;
  • Question and/or statement
  • Hyperlink to further content
  • Engaging image; perhaps containing information to support the message
  • Well-timed at critical times of the day
  • Relevant hashtag
  • Good use of grammar and Capitalisation.

Here is one example below;

Twitter Analytics

The ideal blogpost to support any Twitter hyperlinks contains;

  • A well-written post, no more than 500-800 words in length.
  • Captivating title and opening question/statement.
  • A thought-provoking summary with some questions for reflection.
  • Relevant, high-quality and engaging images to support key messages in the post.
  • If you feel like you can do all of the above, you may want to consider how you can encourage your readers to share your content with further engagement. Read Blogging Brilliance: How To Code.

Things to Avoid:

  • Too many hashtags
  • Over ‘tagging’ users into an image
  • Poor grammar
  • Generlisations
  • Over sharing …

Here is one example.

Knowledge and Understanding:

4.Use Twitter Analytics to learn how your social media account is working. It’s free and offers (paid for analysis) insight into your tweets. For example, my account earned 5.9M impressions over a 28 day period last month (November 2015). During this 28 day period, my account earned 202.2K impressions per day which is phenomenal! On average, that is 2.1K link clicks with 218 Retweets on average per day!

The Tweet activity dashboard is a tool you can use to learn more about your Tweets and how they resonate with your audience. For instance:

  • See how people engage with your tweets in real-time
  • Compare your tweet activity, and see how it trends over time
  • Click on any tweet to get a detailed view of the number of Retweets, replies, favourites, follows or clicks it receives
  • Download your tweet metrics.

Twitter Analytics

Image: Twitter Analytics


As I write this post, my current follower audience size on Twitter is 119,330. Thanks to Twitter Analytics, that’s 10,946 more than the same time 90 days ago; which on average means I have gained around 122 new followers per day!

Take Control!

5. Have you ever had a ‘work’ epiphany? I have. Read Why I Need To Work Smarter? and what I did about it. Or alternatively, read How Buffer Can Improve Your Social Media Presence? and help manage your online identity in several platforms beyond Twitter.

It can be very easy to be consumed with blogs, tweets, surveys, publications and requests to read this, read that and so forth. It can also be daunting if you don’t know how to take control. Buffer is a tool that can hopefully help out in a few ways.

First, you can write a bunch of posts at one time, choose which social profiles to send them to, and then Buffer will spread them out throughout the day or week so that you don’t have to be at a computer all the time in order to have a social media presence.

Buffer Social Media Analytics Twitter Facebook

Buffer enables you to see what works and what doesn’t with your audience. If you have 100 followers on Twitter, when you tweet out the update, your reach potential is 100. If someone retweeted your update, and they have 150 followers on their Twitter account, your potential becomes 250. If one tweet in particular has a higher number of shares, retweets or favourites, Buffer will note that for you so you can see what types of content your followers enjoy.

The beauty is in the queue of content. You can read more Buffer FAQs here.

Why not give the above some time to embed and see how you get on?


@TeacherToolkit logo new book Vitruvian man TT

Further reads:

7 thoughts on “5 Tweeting Tips for Educators

  1. You may have said this, but a good idea to start out with a personal Twitter account so you can see how it works, build up contacts etc then have a work one.

    Don’t engage in personal discussion with pupils.

    In your section ‘things to avoid’ you’ve written ‘generlisations’…

    1. In a prior blog, I’ve mentioned each. I agree, personal is the way to go to get started, but as soon as the selfies, booze, parties and weekend tweets are mixed up with teaching, it’s time to differentiate.

  2. Dear TeacherToolkit, Thank you for this piece. It is quite insightful and has given me an opportunity to question what I have been doing with my Twitter account.

  3. Thanks for the post, Ross. I agree it’s important to decide what you want to use Twitter for, and that can help to guide you with respect to HOW you use it.

    I’d also advise beginners (and seasoned tweeters too!) to make a conscious decision about how much time they’re prepared to spend on Twitter each day/over a week, and try not to get sucked in to spending much more – especially if that means neglecting other things, including personal relationships. I love Twitter, as I know you know, but I do think it can be scarily addictive, and when I recommend it as a source of CPD for teachers/school leaders (which I constantly do), I always add that as a caveat. Control Twitter and try not to let it control you!

    Thanks again.

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