Monthly Archives: January 2018

Twitter FAQs for my DIGME406 Social Media Class

DIGME 406 Twitter FAQs

Q: Why Twitter? What makes Twitter special?

A: Twitter is special because it is open. You don’t even have to be a Twitter member to see other people’s tweets. To correspond on many social media platforms, you must be connected. Take Facebook for example. It is possible to send a message to “non-friend” on Facebook, but that message can get buried, and it is hit or miss as to whether or not it will even be seen, let alone responded to. With Twitter, you do not have to “follow” someone or be “followed” by them to communicate if your settings are set to public, which is the default. With Twitter, there is unparalleled access to people of knowledge and influence. While Twitter can be used as a broadcast medium, there is a conversational culture that is present, and that presents exciting possibilities.

Q: How do I know who I should follow?

A: Begin with a search at Use search terms that reflect your interests in things you would like to learn more about. That is how to find some initial people to follow. Then, when you discover someone who seems knowledgeable or influential in that area, take a look at who they are following and interacting with. Look at their feed and see whose tweets they are retweeting. Viewing someone’s followers can be a peek into their mind. You can see the connections they have made, and what fields of thought they think are important. Then when you find someone else that seems interesting, repeat the process.

Q: How can see only tweets related to #digme406?

A: Everyone should use the #digme406 hashtag on every tweet you want the group to see. That way you can search for #digme406 and see tweets tagged with that. Also, I have set up a list of everyone in our group. You can subscribe to the list at and see all tweets by group members, not just those with the hashtag.

Q: How do you keep up with everything? I don’t want to follow too many people, because then I won’t be able to read everything.

A: One popular analogy is to think of your Twitter feed as a stream or river. If you are thirsty, you don’t try to drink every drop that comes by. Dip your cup into the stream and take a sip or a gulp, whatever suits you. Don’t feel guilty that you haven’t kept up with everything, because that’s not the point. The point is that you are on there and getting benefit from being there.

Q: What is the best way to use Twitter?

A: The best way is the way that works for you. If you are always on the go, the Twitter mobile app might be best. If you have a tablet or computer, you might want to consider using Tweetdeck, which provides added functionality to Twitter. With Tweetdeck, you can get several views of Twitter at once. Tweetdeck lets you view the tweets of individuals, lists, or that include specific terms or hashtags. It is very powerful.

Q: What is a “tweet” exactly?

A: Originally, a tweet was 140 characters long. A short bit of information. Just a tweet.

Q: What is a “retweet”?

A: A retweet is reposting a tweet shared by someone else. It is a way of sharing what was said. You can do that with or without comment.

Q: Who sees what I tweet?

A: Normally, people who follow you see your tweets, although if your tweets are public (the default) anyone can find them by viewing your profile and clicking on tweets, or they can see them by using a search that matches something you’ve posted. One way to make sure someone sees a tweet is to @ “at” them with their username. If you “at” someone, they get an alert telling them about it.

Q: What else happens when I “at” someone?

A: When you begin a tweet with the @ symbol, the tweet is directed to that user alone, and the tweet doesn’t show up in your other followers’ Twitter feed. One common work-around for tweets that you’d like others to see is to put a “period” in front of the “at” as in .@billgx. That simply makes the tweet begin with something other than @ so the system doesn’t hide it from other users. That being said, an @  beginning message is not private. It can still be viewed by others. It is just not pushed out into follower feeds. There is a direct message feature that can be used for messages that are not meant to be publicly viewable.

Q: What should I tweet on Twitter?

A: Share anything you like. Tweets related to our Social Media studies should be tagged with #digme406

Q: How often should I tweet?

A: It’s difficult to have a great conversation or discussion if you only check in with us once a week. Every day would be ideal, but a few times a week would be sufficient.

Q: What are “powerups” on Twitter?

A: Powerups are a way to “gamify” the course so we can keep score each week as a comparison with one another. I will post more information on powerups very shortly.

Q: What is the best way to use Twitter?

A: The best way is the way that works for you. If you are always on the go, the Twitter mobile app might be best. If you have a tablet or computer, you might want to consider using Tweetdeck, which provides added functionality to Twitter. With Tweetdeck, you can get several views of Twitter at once.

Watercolor Paintings

My daughter Emily attended the funeral of a classmate’s dad this week. It was a sad day for everyone in our community. I came home early that day. I think making art is cathartic, so when she asked me if we could paint something, I agreed. I’ve had a bag of watercolor supplies tucked under my desk for more than a year, so we got them out.

What should we paint? She asked. After discussing some options, we settled on using a weird and silly photo we found on my iPad. It was a portrait of us both, digitally manipulated by some app to give us a surreal expression. Perfect! I thought. It’s distorted already, so it won’t matter if our proportions are incorrect.

This is what we came up with.

Who to follow on Twitter

The above video is a basic overview about how to find the right people to follow on Twitter. You start with a Twitter search on a given topic that interests you. It can be a keyword related to your industry, a topic that interests you, anything at all really, but you start with a search. That will show you who shares your interests because those people are tweeting about what you have searched for.

When you find someone who looks promising, there are some things you can check to see if they are a good fit with what you are after. Are they verified (have a blue checkmark by their profile name)? If so, they have a larger following and Twitter has verified that they are who they say they are. This isn’t a must, and you can find excellent people to follow who don’t have the verified blue checkmark, but it is always a plus if it is present.

Another thing to look for is to examine what the person has been tweeting about. If you look through some of their recent tweets, you can get a good idea of what you will be getting if you follow them.

Once you have decided they are “follow worthy” and you’ve clicked the follow button, you aren’t necessarily finished. It is a good idea to click into their “following” list to see other folks that this person follows, is learning from and is influenced by. You can use this process over and over again.

It is really helpful to find someone who is a known expert in the area of interest, and if that person has a high follower to following ratio. If they have thousands of followers, and only a handful of people they follow, chances are good that you can find a lot of fascinating people that they themselves are following.

To me, it isn’t all that helpful to see an account with many thousands of followers when they are also following many thousands as well. It is especially a concern to see someone who follows far more people than they are followed by. While it is quite normal to start out by following more people than you are followed by, this shouldn’t always be the case once you’ve been on Twitter a while. Eventually, you should have a ratio that is roughly the same number of followers to following. If you are very picky about who you follow and you are sharing great stuff that many people want to see, you could wind up with a relatively small list that you follow, and many people following you.

It is customary for many people to return a follow with a follow, so some people game the system by following thousands and gaining thousands of followers as well. I would prefer to follow someone who has gained a large following simply by the quality of what they share on Twitter that provides great value to those who are following them.

A Dog Not For Everyone

We saw this great commercial on TV recently featuring a man and his dog, selling State Farm insurance. Whoa! That dog looks just like our dog Daisy!

I later learned it is NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Australian Cattle Dog, Rigsbee.

And yes, our Daisy is the same breed of dog as featured in the commercial.

My wife Wendy looked up on Google what kind of dog it was in the commercial, and found this article which made her laugh out loud: Please Don’t Buy This Dog! The author talks about how high-energy the breed is and how it is a working dog bred for herding cattle.

That’s why my wife was laughing so much. I am outside every day, usually twice a day, exercising the dog so she won’t destroy our home.A simple walk around the block is nowhere near enough. She’s a runner!  One of the only ways I’ve figured out how to get a good enough work out for her is if I take her along on a bike ride.

I have to take her every day, rain or shine. Today she and I went for a run in white-out blizzard conditions. I wish I would have thought to take a photo from today because it was crazy! Instead, you’ll just have to see this video of me and Daisy going for a run last summer. Just imagine this video with me instead wearing insulated coveralls, gloves, and a hooded parka, and you get the idea.

Tech Savvy Students? Not So Fast!

Are there really educators out there who assume that our students are digital natives and highly tech-proficient? That’s a dangerous assumption to make. The research that I’ve read (Kennedy et al., 2008; Kvavik & Caruso, 2005; Schmidt, 2010), and research that I’ve done (Genereux, 2014) points to the fact that the more technologically complex a task is, the less likely it is that our students know how to do it.

Take for example, posting a photo on Snapchat. It is a much lower technological leap to use a mobile app and a mobile camera device than it is to publish a photo on a web page using HTML like was required in the early days of the web. Apps simplify everything, and almost no technological acumen is required.

What about publishing a video? Again, if they are using an app like Snapchat or Instagram, it is no problem. But if it requires using an editing program like Adobe Premiere, and uploading the edited video to YouTube, far fewer have done something like that.

It is no great secret to those of us who are teaching technology, that our students in general, are bringing minimal tech skills with them that they’ve already acquired. Of course there are exceptions, and we always have some enthusiastic learners who have some deep technological knowledge. However, true tech virtuosos fluent in a variety of technologies are few and far between. Typically, if one of my students has a deep understanding, it is in a narrowly defined area that they’ve spent a great deal of time exploring.

The article Students Say They Are Not as Tech Savvy as Educators Assume is the first time I recall seeing that students themselves say that

in order for high schools and colleges to better serve them, it is important to challenge the assumption that students are digital natives.

Just because a person is technology dependent does not mean they are technology experts. I’m completely dependent on my automobile. I drive it every day. I know a few things about how it operates. But I am far from being a car expert.

The good news is we live in an information-rich culture. If we want to get better at something, chances are good there is already good (and often free) information out there that can help us to get better. Mostly this is about being curious and having the will to learn something new. I think it is up to educators to help students to make connections about how relevant some of these technologies are, and how useful it might be to learn them.


Genereux, W. E. (2014, June), Student-Made Video Projects in a Computer Technology Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K., & Krause, K. L. (2008). First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(1), 108–122.

Kvavik, R. B., & Caruso, J. B. (2005). Students and information technology, 2005 : Convenience, connection, control, and learning. Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved from

Schmidt, H. (2010). Media creation and the net generation: Comparing faculty and student beliefs and competencies regarding media literacy within higher education. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Proquest dissertations and theses – full text. (UMI No. 3408757).

Social Media Benchmarks

measuring heightIt is good to make records of where you stand, just so you are able to see growth over time. As a kid, I made marks on my wooden closet door to track my height. I was such a slow growing kid, it took me several years to grow six inches!

I wish I had thought of doing this when I first started out using social media. I would have seen a lot of rapid growth in the early days, followed by some years of stagnation while I worked on my Ph.D. Now that that project is completed, I’ve started some online activities back up again. So I can track my progress this year and into the future, here are some benchmarks of where I stood in January of 2018.


On my Twitter account @billgx on January 20, 2018,  I had tweeted 15.7K times, having 3101 followers and I followed 2814. I had 5175 likes and was listed on 41 lists. I also noted that I had posted 644 photos and videos. I had 0 moments, as I don’t know what moments even are.


LinkedIn is a newer form of social media, and I haven’t been a very active user on that platform either. Below is a snapshot of my LinkedIn profile information.

On January 20, 2018 I had 711 followers on LinkedIn. I also had 29 profile views, 124 post views and 3 search appearances. At this point, I don’t really know what time frame those stats occurred in, whether they are over the last month, or since I joined LinkedIn. My profile strength was listed as Intermediate.

billgx linkedin profile


Out of all of these, I’ve used YouTube the longest. For some reason, I have two YouTube profiles, billgx and bgenereux. I seem to remember this forking happening because I couldn’t recover the login to my billgx gmail account and I wanted to use gmail, so I made a new account bgenereux. Interestingly, I still have full control of billgx on YouTube. I just can’t read billgx’s email for some reason.

billgx has been around since 2006. In twelve years, I’ve had 1.3 million views on my videos, 626 subscribers, with a total of 144 videos uploaded. Last month, 22,790 minutes of my videos were watched, with 42,559 views counted, and 62 new subscribers added.

billgx youtube stats

My Bgenereux youtube account gets a lot less attention. In January 2018, I accidentally started posting videos related to the DIGME406 Social Media class, and just kept going with them. So I’m going to benchmark it to see what happens with this new activity.

On bgenereux, I currently have a lifetime total of 888 views and 0 subscribers. I had 203 minutes watched during the past month, and 79 views. On January 20, 2018 I had 12 videos uploaded on this channel.

Bgenereux 2018 stats


I’m also including information about my billgx Facebook profile. On January 20, 2018 I had 900 friends on Facebook. I used to have more than this, but I’ve done some housecleaning and removed some people I don’t know and I know some people have “unfriended” me as well.

900 Friends on Facebook, January 2018

I’m pretty open about who I will connect with on Facebook. I suppose it could cause me problems at some point. But so far, the benefits of being open to new connections with people I don’t know have outweighed the risks. It used to be that I knew everyone I connected with on Facebook personally, while nearly everyone I connected with on Twitter, I had never met in person. For the most part, it is still true of Twitter, but my Facebook friends have more virtual friends in the mix now than before, and I feel my network is improved because of it.

Post Every Day

The best way to build up an online reputation is through the regular sharing of original content that provides benefit to others. Ideally, you will post every day, or even multiple times a day. Only through regular posting and sharing will you build up a library of stuff you have thought about and problems you have solved that others can see.

This habit of regular sharing has a couple of benefits. First, you might just provide a solution that can help someone else working on a similar problem. Also, you are showing what you can do to people who might have an interest in knowing more about you. An online portfolio of work that potential clients and employers can see is far superior than a resume or printed portfolio because it shows what you are working on right now (Kleon, 2014). If you can discipline yourself to make regular posts about the projects you are working on and problems you are solving, you are making yourself stand apart from the crowd.


Kleon, A. (2014). Show your work. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.

Social Media Tips

This is just a stream of consciousness thing I wrote a while back while reflecting on how to “do” social media. These are just my ideas. At some point I should polish this up, but I’m going to share it as it is now, so it doesn’t just reside in some file on my device that I’ll ultimately lose or forget about.

Onward to my hastily constructed Social Media Tips…

  • Don’t be a negative, be positive. Nobody wants to hear the negative.
  • Associate with great people. People who are better than you. People who are currently where you aspire to be. You will become like the people that you associate with. That’s the beauty of social media. You can associate with really great people. It’s never been possible to the extent that it is now with the internet. Why not find people you admire, people who know what you’d like to know, and connect with them online? 
  • Post regularly. There’s nothing that will enhance your success online more than providing a regular stream of valuable content.
  • To get more readers, to grow your audience, follow the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • Small Town Rules. (It’s the title of a book written by my friend Becky McCray.) Being on social media is much like living in a small town. Those of us who grew up in small towns have an advantage because similar rules apply in that setting. When people join social media they put themselves into an environment where everybody knows your business, just like in a small town .
  • Refer your own work for reflection. You can look back six months, five years, 10 years from now and see where your thinking was and how much you’ve grown as a person.
  • Establish yourself as an expert. How do you become an expert? Malcolm Gladwell famously suggested in the book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. So how much are you practicing whatever it is you wish to become an expert in? 40 hrs * 52 weeks * 5 years is just over 10000 hrs.
  • Avoid arguments. Discussions are ok. Once you sense you are talking past one another and no one is listening to the other point of view, it is best to bow out. I’m not sure anyone has ever changed their mind simply by reading a stranger’s opinion on the Internet. Most people are seeking information that confirms opinions they already hold.
  • Work on your character. Before you do anything, particularly if it is online, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with this action being blasted around the world on various media outlets. Because if it is outrageous enough, it will be.
  • Be authentic. Show us who you are. Show your face and use your real name. The online world has enough anonymous garbage. If you know what you are talking about and believe what you are saying, there’s no reason you shouldn’t back it up with the real person behind those sayings and beliefs.

Like the Nicky Hokey Boys

Neki Hokey Boys

So THAT’s what she was saying! When I was a kid, sometimes my grandma would say my siblings and I were just like the Nicky-Hokey boys, and we never knew what she meant.

According to the Dick Tracy wiki, the father of the Neki Hokey boys

believed that a lack of discipline and traditional child-rearing would promote creativity and inventiveness in his sons, and they were given very little in the way of guidance and supervision. As a result, the boys were extremely rambunctious, disrespectful to authority, and difficult to control.

People who know me well would probably say this sounds about right.


Blogging for a Decade

This spring will mark the 10th anniversary of my online social media and blogging activities. It has been marked with ups and downs, but I still do these things because I get tremendous value from my online participation.

I must have been excited to be at SXSW in 2008, because I signed up for Twitter in the wee hours of the morning.

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 11.08.00 AM

Of all the social media I have experimented with using, I would say that Twitter has consistently proven to be the most valuable to me professionally because of its openness. When someone is on Twitter, unless they have a private/locked account, to me it indicates a certain willingness to correspond with others on Twitter. To me, that represents endless possibilities because there is so much to learn and so many people to learn from.

This semester I am leading a group of K-State students in an online journey as well. We will be studying social media together in a distance learning class. I have a number of ideas I want to share as a result of my own online experiences as well as those of others who have succeeded and failed in the world of social media.

In preparation for the course, I’ve done a fair bit of reflecting on where I have been and where I am currently with respect to using social media and online tools. One thing I noticed right away is that I wrote a lot more back then than I have recently.

I may never get back to the level of where I was when blogging and tweeting was new and exciting. However, I did set a goal for myself to write 52 blog posts in 52 weeks in 2018. That’s at least one per week. Given that I have numerous blog post drafts that I began but never published over the past few months, I think one thing I need to focus on is just finishing what I’ve started. Clicking ‘publish’ would help.

Another goal I have for 2018 is to understand two social media platforms that I haven’t given a lot of attention to yet: LinkedIn and SnapChat. I have been on LinkedIn for some time, but really haven’t realized a huge value in using it yet. However, my recent visits to the platform tell me the environment is quite a bit different than when I first signed up for it. It feels more like a community of professionals, rather than simply a place to post your resume.

I want to learn more about SnapChat mostly because that is where young people hang out. Of course, I understand that is precisely why young people have forsaken Facebook for SnapChat in the first place, because they want to hang with people their own age. However, I am interested in learning more about what the young find so appealing in the platform. I’ve had a few quality exchanges on it, but I’m not very consistent about checking it. I’d like to up my game on that platform.