When people talk about Twittering and Twitter, many international students will probably be wondering what they are talking about. But Twitter is slowly gathering steam among students and companies alike, as its user base grows and its short 140 character excerpts take over the social networking world.
So what exactly is Twitter?
Twitter is a social networking site and micro-blogging service that allows you to post short text based messages (of no more than 140 characters). Accounts are free from the Twitter website, and once setup you are free to start posting updates to your profile. The idea of Twitter is that you have people either “follow you” so they can see your updates and what you are doing, or you “follow other people” so that you can see their updates (or “Tweets” as they are known)
The following video is quiet a good summary of how the service works and the purpose of Twitter:
There are a few unique ways to use and interact with other people who are using Twitter. A few of these are:
- The “@” sign is used to direct a message to a particular user. For example if you see a question posted or want to tweet to someone you just put the @ sign in front of their name and post a message
- “RT” is used when you re-tweet something someone has already posted. For example if you see a post about a scholarship and want broadcast it to all your friends, just copy the message and put RT in front of it and credit it to the original poster with the @ sign and their username.
- The “#” tag is used to tag a particular tweet. For example if you post a tweet about football, you would add #football to your tweet so that other people can easily search for your tweet to read it.
- You will also notice that many tweets have these funny looking URL’s that are very small. As Twitter only allows 140 characters, you can use these URL shrinking services so that you can still post long URL’s. Tiny URL is one of the most popular ones, but there are many around.
Twitter for International Students
Of course, when you first sign up to Twitter you will have no followers and no-one following you. But over the course of time, as you spread your friend network and your followers grow you will notice that it can provide you with a lot of good information and help.
One of the most useful features of Twitter is for you to follow schools and companies that may be able to assist you and provide you with information about studying in the USA and abroad. To find these companies and schools you can use the Twitter search feature:
From a quick search, a few schools we found (and there are many more) include:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worecester MA @WPIAdmissions
Coventry University, Coventry UK @CoventryUni
Saint Leo University, Saint Leo FL @SaintLeoUniv
There are also a number of companies/ organizations that offer help and advice, they include:
InternationalStudent.com (of course you can follow us) @intstudent
Study in Australia @StudyInAust
Schools and companies like those listed above are now using Twitter to broadcast tweets with information, help and advice to their followers. So for example we use our twitter feed to update students on what is going on at our site and in the international education field in general from around the web – information that is not enough for a full blog post, but helpful and useful. For example, if we see news about international financial aid we will post a message on twitter so that all our followers can see it and learn more about it.
Twitter also provides you a great way to ask questions, not only about international education but with anything you need help with. For example, if you are traveling to San Francisco you could post a tweet asking if anyone knows a good hostel to stay at when you are there, other twitter users will see your message and post a response back. Its a great way to get help and advice on any subject – whether its education related or not!
As Twitter grows, so does its strength to work as a social networking tool for everyone. The larger the user base, and then more widely it is used – the more use you can get from it. For students, its definitely offering a unique way to find information and get answers to questions quickly and easily.
We look forward to you following us, and please ask us any questions. If you also have any good people to follow – please post comments below with their account name.