How to Twitter Part 2 is the second in my three post series on how I understand and use Twitter. (How to Twitter Part 1: 4 Myths and Realities) This second post will discuss my top five reasons why YOU should use Twitter.
Reason 1: Networking with Like-minded Individuals
Twitter will connect you with a worldwide network of historians, writers, archivists, and publishers. All historians can benefit from these connections, but they are especially important for independent historians. Twitter can help us escape our isolation by recreating the departmental camaraderie we miss out on by being unaffiliated scholars. Need someone else to talk to? Try starting a conversation on Twitter.
Reason 2: Research Tool
Have a question? Twitter can help you find an answer. In the last week I have asked, answered, or seen requests for book and primary source referrals, historiographical inquiries, restaurant and hotel recommendations for upcoming research trips, blog suggestions, and technology questions.
Although I have not tried it, I believe Twitter will be a useful hack to getting around our diminished access to J-Stor and other journal databases. The scholars on Twitter are a helpful and generous group of people. I have no doubt that if you Tweet a request for an article that someone will help you access it.
Reason 3: Instant Knowledge
Twitter will provide you with up-to-date information. You will learn about history-related news, events, books, scholarly debates, articles of interest, fellowships, and the work of other scholars almost the moment they happen or when someone has posted about them on the web.
Reason 4: Enhanced or Virtual Conference Experiences
Tweeting scholars have become a fixture at modern-day history conferences. Conference tweets will enhance your conference experience because they will allow you to keep up with and attend more conference panels.
No longer do you have to choose between the three really interesting panels you want to attend during the same 2-hour time slot. No matter which panel you attend another Twitterer will likely attend and tweet one of the others.
Can’t attend a conference in person? Attend it virtually by using Twitter to follow the official conference hashtag.
Twitter will also help you improve your conference sociability by providing opportunities for in-person meet-ups with fellow Twitterers. Want to dine or have coffee with other historians? Send a tweet and see who is available. Unfamiliar with the conference’s host city? Tweet for dining or activity recommendations.
Reason 5: Authorial Platform
Twitter will be an important part of your authorial platform. Publishers will require you to participate in the marketing of your book. Your authorial platform serves as the podium from which you will introduce (and hopefully sell) your work and publications to your followers. Independent historians need strong authorial platforms because we lack the pizazz and built-in platforms that our affiliated counterparts enjoy with their institutional affiliations. (I will further define and discuss how to build an authorial platform in future posts.)
These are my top 5 reasons why historians should tweet. What are your reasons and which reason do you think is the most important? Please leave a comment or send me a tweet @lizcovart.