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Dan McDonnell on Twitter Etiquette and Data Archiving

My name is Dan McDonnell, and I am a Community Manager at the American Evaluation Association.

If you couldn’t already tell, I am a huge fan of Twitter, both personally and professionally. Whether I’m analyzing the latest set of #eval tweets, seeking new craft beer releases, or making connections with new people who share my similar interests, I am logged into Twitter 365 days a year. I am constantly learning new, interesting ways to get great data out of Twitter, and to better engage with my fellow Tweeters. In this post, I’ll outline three short tips you can add to your bag of Twitter tricks, and help you on your road towards becoming a Twitter Power User.

Hot Tip: Save tweets for later.

While you may be able to view your own ancient tweets from years past (has Twitter really been around for 7 years?), if you do a Twitter search for a keyword or a hashtag, you’ll find only about a week’s worth of content. But what if I want to save all of the #eval13  tweets from this year’s conference to analyze or share later? Here are two solutions to the problem:

Use the favorite feature liberally. See a tweet that really resonated with you, or that you’d like to share with your friends or colleagues at a later time? The favorite button acts as a bookmark, saving that tweet for you to view later on your profile. It also acts as a subtle version of Google +’s +1 or Facebook’s Like feature, letting the author of the favorited tweet know you appreciated their content.

Set up Twitter archives. Hootsuite, a Twitter monitoring and publishing tool, has a great feature (for minimal cost) that allows you to archive up to 10,000 Tweets per month. If you’re looking at archiving a bigger data set, they can even increase that number up to 100,000. You can easily export a CSV or XLS file of the tweets on-demand, and slice and dice your thousands of tweets any which way you please.

Hot Tip: Use proper Retweeting etiquette.

Retweeting is an excellent tool to share great content from users you admire with your followers. If used improperly, however, it can backfire and bring unfollows or invite negative comments from your followers. Here are a couple of quick tips to avoid common pitfalls and make Retweet gaffes.

  • Use the Retweet (RT) button to RT rather than manually adding RT in front of another users tweet. So-called  ‘manual’ retweets make it harder for users to find the original source of the tweet.
  • If you modify the contents of someone’s tweet to get it to fit to 140 characters, no matter how minor the modifications type MT (modified tweet) instead of RT when you retweet. The original tweeter then knows that you have modified it, in case an omission is taken out of context. Think of it as telling the author that you’ve made a slight revision for your audience – they’ll appreciate it!
  • Thank your followers for retweeting you. This simple feel-good method will encourage further retweets.
  • Add in a short comment before the RT , even if you’re just adding “Great read!” This helps start a conversation with your followers.

Hot Tip: Broadcast @mentions to the world.

If I’m following you, and you @mention a friend of yours who I am not following, that tweet is effectively invisible to me unless I check your Twitter timeline. Twitter will only display tweets that begin with an @mention if you are following the user in question – mainly to cut down on the volume of tweets you receive in your home feed, and also to serve you with what Twitter deems the most ‘relevant’ content. Unless you know a nifty little workaround, that is. Meet our friend, the punctuation mark.

By adding in a period or a comma (any character will work, these are just the most commonly used ones) before the @mention, Twitter assumes you are making a comment and not directly @mentioning a user to start a conversation, so it will display the tweet to all of your followers. This is a great way to call your followers attention to a Twitter user you want to highlight, or to invite others to participate in a conversation you are already having. Here’s an example:

fig1. @Dan_McD tweets: @SheilaBRobinson Loved your @aeaweb 365 post last weekend!

fig2. @Dan_McD tweets: ,@SheilaBRobinson Loved your @aeaweb 365 post last weekend!

In fig1, only Sheila and any of my followers who also follow Sheila will see the tweet. In fig2, all of my followers will see the tweet, and potentially follow Sheila, join in the conversation with us, or seek out the post. By using this trick, you increase the possibility of making new connections between your followers and expanding your Twitter network.

The above tips can be considered intermediate Twitter practices. For my next Twitter-focused AEA365 post, would you like me to continue down this path? Or would you like to jump to more advanced Twitter tips? Leave a comment, and let me know!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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  • Twitter 101 | Museums and the Digital · November 24, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    […] Twitter Etiquette and Data Archiving […]


  • Lynda Kelly · November 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks Dan – this was really useful. As a longterm Twitter user I never realised some of these tips! I’d be interested to see if anyone is using Twitter as an evalaution tool (e.g. analysing tweets to see what people learned, or their feedback about something etc)??


  • Sara · November 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Thanks, Dan!

    Always wondered what the period and/or comma was for!


  • Sara Vaca · November 24, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Very interesting, and yes, please, keep more Twitter tips coming!
    Thank you!


  • Author comment by Sheila Robinson · November 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Great post Dan, and thanks for the mention. I find SlideShare an interesting place to learn about various topics and Twitter is no exception. I just read a slide deck about the fact that starting a tweet with the @ sign and not understanding that it doesn’t go out to all of your followers is the number one mistake people make. I went back to SlideShare just now to see if I could find the one I saw and post the link, but alas, there are over 303,000 SlideShares on “twitter,” and over 16,000 on “twitter mistakes.” I guess it’s a big topic! My vote is to keep this path going, and include more advanced tips – especially ones that would appeal to evaluators! My one gripe about Twitter is that I want to be able to “like” a tweet and not necessarily “favorite” it. I want them to be two different functions – one that indicates to the tweeter that I like the post and want to recognize the tweeter, and a separate one for me to save or archive tweets.


  • James Coyle · November 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Dan, thanks for your post.
    I never knew about the punctuation broadcast feature…your examples help explain it well!

    Keep it coming!


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