I consider Twitter a perfect example of paying it forward. I find something to share I feel my followers will benefit from and, if they think so, they send it off to their followers, and the benefits multiply!
If I see some great link or idea or thought from the people I follow on Twitter, I re-tweet it to my followers, and am happy to have found something of interest for them.
I don't follow everyone who follows me on Twitter. As much as I would like to, I currently have over 22,000 educators who follow me on Twitter. I consider it an obligation to provide them with links, ideas, things I discover, and upcoming events of interest. I do throw in some personal things at times. I am hoping that is okay with them.
I follow 212 people on Twitter. They are educators who provide me with great ideas, have different networks than I do and retweet items I never would have seen, and are always there when I have a question or concern.
Of course, unless I follow a person on Twitter, they cannot direct message me. Some followers get very upset they cannot direct message me and chide me for not following them. That's silly. I hone my PLN to what I need and keep it manageable to make sure it is useful. It is in constant flux as I follow and unfollow tweeters. In addition, my email address is in my Twitter profile (something I suggest everyone should do) and any one of my followers can email me at any time!
I look at the profile of each person who follows me on Twitter as they begin to follow me. It is disheartening to me that many educators continue to protect their tweets. They are not paying it forward, in my opinion. I want to visit their profile, see the things they are tweeting, and decide if I want to follow them. I don't want to be forced into picking to follow them, waiting for them to approve me, then checking out what they post, and then decide to continue to follow them or unfollow them.
Tweets from users who have protected accounts do not show up in a Twitter search. I also didn't think others could re-tweet tweets from those that protect their tweets. I actually was unsure about this, so I asked my twitter followers.
Here are the first few answers I received (read from the bottom up)
I found Ben's initial comment and then follow-up interesting, but true. Although Susan said the same thing about cutting and pasting. And my favorite was from Greg, who agrees with me, that teachers need to "tweet in public" and not protect their tweets.
And Ben, who tells teachers that it is their digital footprint and their choice to keep their tweets protected, also stated:
(Late addition: I am getting mixed messages on whether you can or cannot re-tweet protected tweets. It may be dependent on the browser-based version or whether you are using a specific Twitter client.)
I truly believe that collaboration and sharing and participating are really important in social networks. I encourage teachers who feel they have personal stuff in their Twitter account, that they don't want the world to see, to create a personal Twitter account and protect that one.
Keep your professional account wide open so others can see the great things you are tweeting, easily follow you to keep up with your new ideas and thoughts, and can re-tweet your super ideas to their Twitter followers!
Please pay it forward!