Editing Modernism in Canada


August 12, 2014

Teach Me How to Twitter

I’ve taken a dive into the deep end of social media this week, and it’s been quite the eye-opening experience. (This is a misleading metaphor, because I never open my eyes under water.)


At the end of the week I’m co-hosting a two-day symposium that culminates in a public event. “Canadian Magazines, Past, Present, Future” will feature readings and talks from local authors and editors, displays of contemporary Canadian magazines, and a splendid slideshow of historical and contemporary magazine covers. A primary goal of the event is to bridge the university/community divide; while we’re holding it on campus, we’re hoping that the audience won’t be exclusively academic.

Hence the social media. I created a Twitter handle for our project — @modmagcanada — and started friending local magazines and writers, as well as the academics participating in our workshop and any friends who I thought likely to respond out of goodwill alone. Friending and retweeting and tagging like mad, I managed to drive my followers up to an impressive… 70. How could this be? My personal Twitter feed has 211 followers, and I never do anything interesting!

Undeterred, I decided it was time to exercise my hashtag prowess. I tweeted to all the Canadian magazines I could find, asking them to spread #ireadcanmags to let us know why people read Canadian magazines. The response? A handful of retweets and… five responses.

The experience hasn’t been entirely disheartening. We’ve had some lovely shout-outs and I even managed to line up a speaker through Twitter. And the proof will ultimately lie in whether or not people show up for the event itself.

Nevertheless, prior to this experience I was pretty sure I knew how to use Twitter in theory and had just never bothered to use those skills in the real world. Now I wonder: is this whole social media thing maybe, secretly, a little more complicated than I gave it credit for?

Over to you, EMiC-ites: any hot Twitter-tips?

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