Social Media Use in Horticulture, Part 1: Twitter

December 31, 2012

by Sam Bauer

person using twitter
Photo 1: Twitter applications can be downloaded to almost every internet device, including: laptops, tablets, and mobile phones

Over the past several years social media applications have drastically changed the way we receive and disseminate information on horticulture related topics.  From microblogging applications like Twitter and Facebook, to WordPress and Google blogs, and professional networking sites such as Linkedin; these applications have quickly demonstrated their educational value in the horticulture industry.    

In Part 1 of this Social Media Educational Series we will take a look at Twitter and discuss how it can be a useful educational tool.

What is Twitter?     

Twitter is a popular microblogging platform that has taken the world by storm.  It allows content to be posted in 140 characters or less in the form of sentences, photos, or links.  Twitter users have the opportunity to provide and receive real-time information via short messages known as “tweets”.

Why Join Twitter? 

It seems like every day there is some new form of social media popping up and it can be difficult to decide which applications to spend our precious time on, especially if we’re not sure that the application will be around for any length of time.  Twitter is an application that is here to stay, and there are several reasons for this.  First of all, consider actually saving time by using Twitter.  Following twitter news feeds, weather information, or even this blog allows you the ability to receive information at your fingertips, when you want it.  For example, The New York Times Twitter account (@nytimes) is followed by almost 7 million people and tweets the latest news information as it breaks.  Missing the nightly news might no longer seem like such a big deal. 

Secondly, most educational institutions are using twitter to provide immediate information on current topics.  You can follow the Yard and Garden Blog (@UMNgardeninfo) to receive the latest news on horticulture topics from the University of Minnesota Extension.  Also, our Turfgrass Science Program (@urbanturfmn) twitter account will keep you up to date with topics related to turfgrass management and home lawn care. 

Finally, twitter is fun and entertaining.  Those of you reluctant to give it a try would most likely enjoy the information, ease of use, and interaction once you get started.  Whether you’re reading what your favorite celebrity has to say or following your local sports team, twitter will open up a new world of entertainment for you.  Let’s get started.

Getting Started With Twitter

1) Create an account and username at , 2) Follow people that are interesting to you (twitter will provide a list of suggested people to follow based on your email contacts), 3) Build followers by tweeting (i.e. posting) interesting content, 4) Link twitter to your other social media sites.  That’s it.  Once you get more involved you will find benefit from applications like “Twitterfeed” and “Tweetdeck”, which allow for automatic tweeting and scheduling of tweets.  We will discuss these applications in future posts.  Below is a link to a twitter tutorial that will help you get started:   

Twitter tutorial:

The Challenge

This is the first part of an ongoing series looking at social media use in horticulture.  It will be a learning process for all of us, as I am not a social media guru by any means, although I have really come to enjoy using technology for education, and I think you will too.  Consider this fun and rewarding challenge:

Interactive Task:

1)      Signup for a twitter account ( or use your existing account

2)      Follow @urbanturfmn and @UMNgardeninfo

3)      Send us a mention with the hashtag #y&gnews, as in “@urbanturfmn I enjoy the Turfgrass Science Blog #y&gnews” or “@UMNgardeninfo great January articles #y&gnews”

4)      Upon receipt of your tweet you will be entered into a drawing for a free one year family and friends membership to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (, which includes admission to more than 270 botanical gardens, arboreta and conservatories nationwide.  

Stay tuned for next month’s post on social media use in horticulture, and please provide your feedback by completing the quick survey below.