A Beginner’s Guide to #EconTwitter

What’s #EconTwitter?

Literally? Twitter is a website that lets users broadcast 280 characters of text to other users. These are called tweets, and they can also include photos and stuff. You can “follow” other users so that you automatically see their tweets. #EconTwitter is a subnetwork of twitter users who tend to be economists (academic, professional, aspiring), who tweet about economics, and who follow each other.

Why join #EconTwitter?

You’ll learn a ton. It’s a forum people use to share interesting research (their own and others), job notices, grant opportunities, calls for papers, conferences, and other opportunities. It’s a place people rigorously discuss methodological questions. It’s a place for experts to talk about current events. And it’s a place where the hidden curriculum of economics — the advice about how to thrive, not usually disseminated in articles — is freely discussed.

Why is there a “#”?

Twitter lets you attach keywords to your tweets by putting a hashtag (#) in front of them. In theory, you can find tweets about #EconTwitter by searching for it in twitter. It doesn’t actually work that well (people don’t usually attach the #EconTwitter keyword). But don’t worry, you’ve got this guide!

Setting up a Twitter Profile

Joining twitter is like joining any other social media website. It’s free.

Following People

Once you set up your account, the one thing that will most impact your twitter experience is who you follow. When you sign into twitter, three kinds of content will form the bulk of what you see:

  1. Tweets of people you do not follow, but which have been retweeted by people you do follow.
  2. Tweets the twitter algorithm thinks you would like.
  • James Tierney (@James_Tierney) maintains lists of economics educators and high school economics instructors.
  • Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman (@itsafronomics)’s list #NextGenEcon is a list of “The next generation of economics, policy, and biz that you should be following”
  • The @WelcomeEcon twitter account is an account I set up with the sole function of broadcasting tweets new users compose introducing themselves to the #EconTwitter community (see below). It follows everyone it retweets, so the users it follows is also a list of who is new on twitter. At the same time, everyone who follows the account is also someone who is interested enough in #EconTwitter that they want to hear who is new (or they’re a bot; it happens).
  1. Replies to your tweets and the tweets of people you follow

Getting Followers

You can get plenty out of #EconTwitter just by following other people. You don’t have to interact. But if you want to participate in the discussions or toss your own thoughts out there, you’ll probably want some followers — otherwise, you’re just talking into a void.

How to Tweet

There are four main types of tweet.

  1. If you want to make a larger point, you can thread several tweets together. When you do this, your followers will typically see the first tweet in your thread, along with an indicator that there are more tweets in the thread. If they click on the first tweet, the thread is expanded and they see all your tweets in sequence. It’s kind of like reading a post sentence by sentence. Works surprisingly well!
    There are two ways to make threads. One option is to hit the little “plus” button in the corner when you compose your first tweet. You can do this as much as you like, drafting all the tweets in your thread at once and editing them before you hit “tweet all.” Alternatively, you can just compose your thread on the fly by hitting “reply” to the latest tweet in your thread. If you do this, followers will see each of your tweets as they come, instead of just the first tweet with an indicator that there is a thread below. But when you thread by replying to your own tweets, you can’t go back and edit the earlier tweets in the thread.
  2. If you like what someone else said and want to share it with your own followers, you can retweet it by hitting the retweet button under the tweet. When you do this, you’ll have the choice to simply retweet or to quote retweet. If you simply retweet, your followers will see the tweet in its original state, with an indicator that it was retweeted by you. If you quote retweet, your followers will see the original tweet in a little box, embedded in your own tweet, where you have the standard 280 characters to make a comment on it.
  3. You can also reply to other people’s tweets. Just click on the “reply” icon under the tweet. You’ll have the usual 280 characters to respond. Twitter will notify the person whose tweet you are replying to that you have replied, but it will also notify anyone “tagged” in that tweet. The etiquette of this is discussed a bit in the “best practices” section. In general, your followers will not see your reply unless they also follow the tweet you are replying to (but if they are really curious, they can find them by going to your profile and looking at your “tweets and replies”). People who follow the tweet you are replying to will not see your reply either, unless they choose to read the replies to that tweet (which is common).

What to Tweet

Whatever you want! If you want to get an idea of what kinds of things people tweet on #EconTwitter, check out what the tweets from people in the #EconTwitter Starter Set.

Best Practices

Adhering to a couple best practices will also make your experience and the experience of everyone else better.

  • People you follow: this will lock your tweet so that only people you follow can reply to the tweet.
  • Only people you mention: this will lock your tweet so that only people mentioned directly in the tweet itself (see tagging below) can reply.

Additional Resources

Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) made a presentation about using twitter as an economist back in 2015.

The End

Hope you found this helpful! If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, you can email me. Better yet, contact me on twitter!



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