From the Principal's Office: Art and Composition of Tweeting

There is a certain amount of crafting that occurs when one constructs a message designed for Twitter. Sure, you can indiscriminately post tweets about the coffee you're drinking at Starbucks, the steak your having at a restaurant, or the shoes you just purchased. Posting on Twitter is quite easy. Posting in a manner that gets your tweets noticed is a bit more difficult. What you must do to get the attention of the Twitter stream is master the art of engaging others using 140 character or what I call Twitter-bites.

The art of tweeting as I've come to experience it ultimately means getting others to notice what you have to say. This means simultaneously having something of substance to add the Twitter conversation and keeping it concise. There's no room for the long-winded. Twitter is designed for the short, pithy sayings that capture ideas and thoughts concisely. It is a place to share and engage others in 140-character bite-sized conversations about what is of interest to you.

So what are some tips for getting the Twitterverse, tweetworld, or whatever you call to notice what you have to say? Here's some ideas for starters.

1. Be controversial and courageous. This means you are respectful but you say what everyone else is thinking but is afraid to say. You are controversial when you tweet about the controversial; when you state the seldom-held positions on a topic. You are courageous when you are willing to tweet about those controversial topics others see as off-limits. If you want others to notice what you say, be controversial, but respectful and courageously say what's on your mind.

2. Be witty and pithy. This means you aren't necessarily humorous in the sense that you act as a stand-up comedian on a cyber stage. Being witty can mean simply being inventive and quick in what you say. Twitter's 140 characters make wittiness an even greater challenge. Being pithy means being concise but forceful in your message. Look for language, style, and words that get straight to what you want to say. To get your tweets noticed, try being witty and pithy.

3. Be inventive with language. This can be the most fun in tweeting. Inventing phrases, words, and language in general can get you noticed For example, one of my favorites invented by someone else but tweeted was calling the Obama Administration's Race to the Top program "No Child Left Behind 2.0." I still remember that new name even though it was about four years ago. Combining words, inventing new words or phrases will get others to notice what you tweet. Being inventive with language when you only have 140 characters is a must.

4. Share a resource, a story, a video or a picture, but add a bit of commentary. Being a commentator on Twitter is particularly challenging. Often sarcasm doesn't come through clearly. Making definitive statements can come across more mean than intended. But, adding commentary and opinion will cause others to respond, whether they agree or disagree. Adding a bit of commentary often causes others to respond to what you're sharing.

The English teacher in me is fascinated by the "Art and Composition of Tweeting." Writing was what drew me to teaching that subject to begin with. Looking at "Tweeting" from a composition standpoint makes sense. I would assume one tweets in order to have others read what is said, otherwise one is only talking to herself. It is possible to compose tweets that others will respond to and notice. It just takes a bit of thought and crafting.

cross posted at

J. Robinson has decades of experience as a K12 Principal, Teacher, and Technology Advocate. Read more at The 21st Century Principal.