Things you might not know about Twitter that might change your mind about it, if you thought Twitter was a waste of time… like I did.


Do I really need to know what Justin Bieber had for breakfast?

Hopefully today we can convince you that amazing things can be achieved with just 140 characters.

What is Twitter?

Do we need to talk about what it is, and how it works? The only thing I’d add to this first paragraph, is that as well as sending messages to the world, or to a defined group, you can follow people on twitter. Every time they send a message, you get notified, and people can follow you. Simple.

The power of the #

We need to know about hashtags if we’re going to talk about Twitter. If you click on, or search for, a specific word with a hashtag at the start of it, then every tweet with it in will appear in date order, latest first. So if you were to search for or click on #hignfy, you’d find everything to do with the satirical BBC news program Have I Got News For You. That’s not their account, it’s every message sent by anyone that had that hashtag in it. Yes?  To go directly to their Twitter ‘feed’ you’d go to @haveigotnews.

Why is that useful? Well, apart from being able to find information on things you’re interested in, you could create your own hashtags and use them to draw together information and discussion amongst your students and colleagues, related to maybe a module, or topic you’re all interested in. #reallyuseful?

A few statistics

  • The estimated total number of registered Twitter users is 1.3 billion
  • 38% of millennials in the US have a twitter account
  • Around 6,000 tweets are sent every second.


Click on the image above and have a look at the daily Twitter counter!

Who has the most followers? 

Well, you’ll probably not be surprised that all but one of the top 5 most followed individuals are pop stars, and that won’t do anything for our argument that Twitter can be useful to us in our work – we’ll get to that. It doesn’t take much to imagine the effect of having nearly 100 million followers has on record sales. (100 million times 79p – the price of a track on iTunes). Or, if they just happened to mention a brand of lipstick… In fact, many record companies will now sign a band on the numbers of followers they have on Facebook and Twitter. That might seem sad at first, but if you work hard building your following, great things can be achieved using Twitter and Facebook, and they’re free.

On a serious note, doesn’t this tell us that millennials are already conversant with Twitter, and ready to use it to find other information?

You don’t have to look too far down the list to see slightly more… cerebral feeds that people follow in their millions. BBC news has nearly 30 million followers, NASA have 22 million, Reuters 16 million. Individuals such as Neil deGrasse Tyson (2.5 million), and Brian Cox (1.5 million) can reach large numbers of people, who are all able to ‘retweet’ their message i.e. to send them again to their followers, who could then retweet to their followers… etc.

As far as ‘serious’ Twitter accounts or ‘feeds’ as they’re known, are concerned (business, science, political, research, etc) , worldwide, there are a number of benefits that come from the many, many people reading, retweeting, commenting, etc  The power of the ‘hive mind’.

  • Thousands, if not millions of experts use Twitter to chat, discuss and debate ideas. How much more quickly can we solve problems with that many people debating serious issues?
  • Twitter is a Reciprocal Curation Engine, perfect for experts to digest, focus and grasp new ideas and take them further.
  • Whether you’re in politics, industry or education, Twitter enables one-to-one communication with interested parties/your clients.
  • Twitter may have only 140 characters available, but that can include webpage URLs, PDF files, basically whatever is up on the web – i.e. it can link to things that have much more substance.
  • Twitter is a tool that can be used when all other news options have been shut down.

This short video is a good stepping off point to understand how useful it can be for students, teachers and researchers.

Crowd Sourcing

Twitter is a great way of providing opportunities for ‘crowd sourcing’ your work, getting people to engage in and help you with your work is often possible. Some researchers have been successful in using Twitter to get actual funding. Indeed some of our students have been funded as a consequence of contacting people via Twitter.

New Audiences

Twitter is a very good medium for helping you to reach out to non-academic audiences, such as governmental organisations, business, NGOs etc.

Tweet about new publications

These can be journal articles, blogs, website updates, etc. It is a good idea to have access to an online version of the full publication, or to an abstract, so that the tweet can point somewhere for followers to get more information. By providing the link via certain shortening services (e.g., you can gauge interaction with your publications.


Twitter is a great way to raise awareness of events your organisation or department may be hosting. You can then LiveChat the event to further raise awareness. Several of my colleagues monitor Twitter chat from events they can’t physically attend.


Twitter is of course a communication medium, but it can actually be of great use in keeping the members of the sub-groups within your organisation up to date with your activities. You can also use Twitter to communicate more easily with students, researchers and part-time staff who may not always be kept up to date with activities through normal channels.


Choose one of the following:

Put together a list/a couple of Twitter feeds that you think your students would find useful to follow. If you don’t already (and I’d love to know if you do), you could add that list to your course materials in the VLE/LMS. The best way to find them is to Google people, institutions, businesses etc, and look for their Twitter address (it’s usually somewhere on their front page). Paste them into the comments section of this post. Maybe you have a Twitter feed you’d like to share with us?  How about this one for starters: @AngliaRuskin with 24,000 followers, incidentally.


Put together a list of Twitter accounts that you would find interesting in your general life, in or outside of work.


Sign up to our wonderful Twitter course 10 Days of Twitter – #ARU10DoT – which has been very successful, and has also been adopted by other Universities. Let us know you’ve signed up, by saying so in the comments here.



116 thoughts on “Things you might not know about Twitter that might change your mind about it, if you thought Twitter was a waste of time… like I did.

  1. Christopher O'Kane March 6, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    Signed up to 10 days of twitter


  2. edgar March 6, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    I’ve already signed up to #10DoT ! Great source of practical knowledge on Twitter possibilities:)


  3. Javaid Butt March 7, 2017 / 6:40 am

    I have a twitter account but I don’t generally use it to send out tweets but I do follow the following:


  4. Philip Howlett March 7, 2017 / 6:50 am

    I’ve only dabbled with Twitter a little bit, so perhaps it is time to sign up for the 10DoT! At the moment, I tend to be very selective about any tweets (i.e. I hardly do any!), but I do follow a range of people/organizations – some for work (or previous work) and some for interest:

    @the ASE


  5. Que Mirza March 7, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Joined 10 days of Twitter, didn’t even know we did that! found it very useful.


  6. lindseygoldsbrough March 7, 2017 / 8:30 am

    I thought Twitter was pointless too but have since changed my mind. Every day I check @EssexWeather and @Essex_Travel before I come in!

    Finished #10DoT in December – just before the badge was added, sob.


  7. Natalie March 7, 2017 / 9:12 am

    I am signed up to the 10 days of twitter and looking forward to learning more about it. I have an account but rarely use it aside to check on the Essex Travel updates. I find twitter boring and not as fun or useful as other social media sites. However I have created a new account so I can give it a go!


  8. Ruth Shelley March 7, 2017 / 9:35 am

    I use twitter a lot less than instagram but I do enjoy following:


  9. Nicky Milner March 7, 2017 / 9:40 am

    I have already signed up 10DoT and looking forward to getting my twitter account going properly!

    Some useful contacts that I have which relate to my teaching, research and CPD activities are:






  10. Sarah Webb March 7, 2017 / 9:50 am

    I’ve had a Twitter account for a while now although I’ve only really dipped in and out of Twitter until recently. I’ve just started the 10 days of Twitter and am looking forward to learning new things!
    I do like to look at library things on Twitter – @cilipinfo, anything to do with CILIP chartership and one of my favourites – @uoppenguin. The Orkney Library Twitter account is also great – @OrkneyLibrary


  11. grahamfennell March 7, 2017 / 10:08 am

    I’ve done the 10 Days of Twitter course and found it very engaging. We’ve since set up an account specifically for ALSS staff: @ALSSLibrarians


  12. Theresa Crawforth March 7, 2017 / 10:16 am

    I have a twitter account that I don’t use much, but I do follow these accounts when I’m there:

    among others.


  13. Sarah Allen March 7, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Activity option 2:

    For work:

    For home:


  14. Gabriella Giuffrida March 7, 2017 / 10:39 am

    I don’t tweet very much but I follow these accounts, among others:







  15. Sandra Cross March 7, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    I have just opened a Twitter account. Here are some dyslexia related sites I could access:

    @Dyslexia Action


  16. wendy finch March 7, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    I have already signed up for twitter and have found the following accounts to follow;


  17. Atika kemal March 7, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    I have a twitter account that I set up a few years ago- but haven’t used it actively. I would like to sign up to the 10 days of twitter.


  18. Anna March 7, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Feeds I found interesting:

    @AngliaLTA : ))

    Already ‘in’ for the 10 Day of Twitter.

    Have a great afternoon everyone!


  19. catherine foottit March 7, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    I have completed 10 days of Twitter and have a work Twitter account @catfoott1 and a personal Twitter account @FoottitArt where I tweet my works of art!


  20. Caroline March 7, 2017 / 4:10 pm

    I’ve completed the 10 days of twitter – joined properly a year ago and think it’s a superb way of staying in touch with a wide range of things that are of interest, both on a work and a non-work front. (@caromwatts)


  21. Michelle March 8, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Did you know our recruitment team have a twitter feed? @ARU_jobs Today they’ll be tweeting about our Women’s Network Conference for International Womens Day #IWD #ARUProud


  22. Rachael March 8, 2017 / 10:07 am

    I don’t really use twitter but would find the below interesting


  23. Marcia March 8, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    I unfortunately don’t use twitter very much – I do, however have an account for part of my work baldrymarcia@startup
    I need to now more and will sign up for the 10 days of twitter once I return from leave and the pressure is off a little!


  24. Lisa Clark March 8, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    Use my Twitter account to stay abreast of changes in HR and Data Centres:



  25. Kirstie Smith March 8, 2017 / 3:34 pm



  26. Rhys Frankland March 8, 2017 / 3:42 pm



  27. Dai Tohzumi March 9, 2017 / 9:18 am



  28. Scarlett March 9, 2017 / 9:45 am



  29. Karen Clarke March 9, 2017 / 10:41 am

    And one for my own pleasure…..


  30. Penny Screech March 10, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    I set up a Twitter account a few years back but am ashamed to say that I do not use it. The following would be useful/interesting for me:






  31. Jessica March 10, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Twitter feeds I enjoy outside of work:

    – @farmersweekly
    – @HH_eventing
    – @bbcgoodfood
    – @GBHockey


  32. Lynne March 10, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    I only follow two titter feeds.

    Afraid it doesn’t interest me at all


  33. Sara Donner-Langstone March 10, 2017 / 3:39 pm

    twitter accounts with jokes and/or social comments would interest me


  34. Sarah Elsegood March 13, 2017 / 8:58 am

    I signed up (again) for the 10 days of Twitter digital badge version of the course @sarah_elsegood


  35. Raynor March 13, 2017 / 10:12 am

    Would like to do the 10 days of Twitter but not around for this time will look out for the next course


  36. Hannah Stageman March 13, 2017 / 3:21 pm


    among many more…


  37. Jennifer Little March 13, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Signed up (again) for the #ARU10DoT course for the digital badge version – @JenLLittle

    As part of the Employability Service I would suggest;



  38. Sarah Boateng March 14, 2017 / 1:01 pm



  39. Patrick Selby March 14, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Useful interesting for work and play:



  40. Peter Crabtree March 14, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    Really pleased with the great choices made by our students at the SU Elections


  41. Jo Baxter March 15, 2017 / 4:20 pm

    I have a twitter account, the following are of interest to me:

    Singdean @alppine


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