Reflecting on learning and seeing the world in exciting new ways.

Posts tagged ‘social media’

Ask Twitter

Yesterday, I was marking a student’s assessment about the use of online tools to support e-learning. She was discussing the merits of social bookmarking and in particular delicious. Now, this is a topic dear to my heart. I have had a delicious account since 2004 and used it extensively over the years to access my favourite websites anywhere I had internet access. In recent times, I switched to Diigo and love the additional functionality it offers.

I followed the link to this particular student’s delicious account and noticed a few changes in the interface. Tags have now morphed into stacks, something which I’m not entirely convinced about and think bears more than a passing resemblance to Pinterest. However, logging in to my own delicious account, I was shocked to discover that my user name no longer existed, nor any of its variations!

Social media to the rescue

I decided to get to the heart of the matter and turned to Twitter. I found a Twitter account for delicious and within minutes of posting my query, I received the following reply from @Delicious_help:

Delicious help responseGosh! While I didn’t particularly like the response to my question, I was super impressed with the speed it arrived in my timeline. I relayed the news to my colleagues, both of whom were almost dumbfounded about how I had turned to social media rather than Google in the first instance and how quickly I’d used one social software tool to investigate another. One informed me that her 15 year old son would be impressed!

speeding bullet imageTo be honest, I didn’t give the process much thought at all. Yes, I could have searched for static information on the topic via a search engine, but what I really wanted was a quick response without all the guff. To me, that’s the beauty of Twitter; my professional learning network (PLN) is often my first port of call for issues relating to education and e-learning and today it proved faster and more effective than Superman himself!

Takeaway points

A couple of takeaway points from yesterday’s experience:

  • Google is not the first answer to every question. In fact, YouTube is continuously moving up the scale of search engine domination particularly in younger demographics and is even surpassing Yahoo.
  • Twitter in itself is not a learning tool but the professional learning network I have developed over the years via Twitter and other social media is one of the most valuable educational resources I have – and it’s all at my fingertips.
  • Don’t get left behind! Apparently the whole world knew about delicious’s plans to migrate to its new form. (Yes, I probably had several messages about it somewhere.) Some tools and services disappear altogether. Luckily, my eggs were also kept safely in another basket as a backup (Diigo).

Social media: helping or hindering a message?

Ban social media imageI read with interest an article in The Dominion Post this morning entitled Online is offside, All Blacks warned. Stuff has linked to the article World Cup Twitter ban for All Blacks. The upshot of the story is that the All Blacks, in response to a drive from senior players, will not be allowed to engage in social media for the duration of the Rugby World Cup. In particular, Twitter, personal Facebook pages, blogs and newspaper columns are deemed out of bounds and described as a “distraction”. Official All Blacks Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with the mainstream media, will be the primary means for interacting with the public. But what about telephones, email, tv or radio interviews (often live)? To me, there is little difference between social media and other forms of communication in this scenario.

As an organisation, we have been exploring ways to build our brand via social media and the issues associated with this. We have a social media policy which is accompanied by a set of guidelines for staff. Comments made via personal accounts must be clearly stated as our own and not necessarily shared by our employer. ‘Official’ accounts must be authorised by senior management and social media best practice and protocols apply. This pretty much goes without saying and prudence is expected.

I wonder whether developing a policy with clear guidelines about the appropriate use of social media would be more suitable for a business or public body such as the All Blacks, rather than implementing a blanket ban? Obviously anything that could reflect badly upon an employer, or information that is commercially sensitive, is automatically a no go area. But how about using social media to enhance and harness the power of a brand in a positive way? To me, careful and strategic use of social media can have positive and wide-reaching effects that far outweigh the lost opportunities we risk when imposing a blanket ban.

Mashable had a blog post today talking about 10 people who lost jobs over social media mistakes. My question is: is it the social media at fault, or is it user error? To me, these are behavioural issues in which social media was simply the vehicle. I agree that the behaviours were not appropriate, but by placing the blame on social media is somewhat misleading, even sensationalist. Some time and effort spent on exploring and defining the lines of separation between personal and professional online behaviour could be a valuable solution here.

Social media revolution

Further to my previous post about building a brand with Twitter, I had the pleasure of attending a session this afternoon hosted by Leanne Rate from our Marketing and Communications team. She gave attendees an overview of how our organisation is dipping our collective toes into the water that is social media in relation to developing our reputation and establishing online relationships with students, staff and other educational institutions.

One thing is obvious: it’s no longer a matter of should we use social media to develop our brand, but how should we use social media to develop our brand? Leanne showed us multiple examples of how our students are already interacting about their learning within the online social networks they have established independently of us. Regardless of whether organisations feel ready to join in, students are seeking and creating online relationships and engaging in conversations based around shared experiences, both positive and negative. Some of these conversations are ongoing but many are short lived, perhaps for the duration of a course or until the resolution of an issue. What does this mean for us, not only as an organisation, but as educators?

I really enjoyed the video Leanne showed about the social media revolution. It is an updated version from the original but is still a year old. I wonder how much the statistics have changed in that time? What will they look like next year? In five years’ time?

Building a brand with Twitter

Twitter logoThere is something about Twitter that polarises the masses. Actually, it goes further than that, especially in a business sense. From my observations, Twitter seems to divide people unevenly into three discrete camps: those who love it, those who hate it, and those who haven’t heard of it.

As an organisation, we have begun looking at our online presence including media such as Facebook and Twitter. There are many examples of companies using social media very well. There are probably more examples of companies who are not. The trick is, there is no rule book or definitive way to do it right; this is as frustrating for some individuals as it is liberating for others.

How to guides for Twitter

Tweet This Book coverAs part of our discussions and explorations, a group of us have come across and shared some resources exploring marketing conventions and etiquette for Twitter. Highly recommended by a colleague is the ebook Tweet This Book, which looks at building business and personal brands through social media.  It’s free to download – the author, Vaughn Davis, simply asks that you ‘pay’ him by tweeting the link or posting it on Facebook. It talks about how social media can be a window on the wall that is advertising, allowing users into what he describes as the social landscape. Davis stresses that the best way to learn how to do this is to jump on in; developing a brand through social media is not something you can thoroughly prepare for in advance, like heart surgery, for example.

Having said that, surely there have got to be some better ways to go about it than others? I found this blog post about social media principles helpful, with good explanations behind some of the techniques which can be used. On the other hand, 7 Twitter rules you must ignore busts some of the myths surrounding Twitter in light of traditional marketing. In essence, I see the success of any strategy is down to planning: what is our purpose, what do we want to achieve, who image to do we want to project, who is going to be the face for our approach (this could be more than one person), and how will we make this happen.

Business cards

I recently had some business cards printed. Rather than use up a line reciting a redundant fax number when I’m not even sure about the location of said machine in our office, I have included my Twitter handle, @ageja. As someone who works predominantly online, it makes sense for me to include details about the best ways to contact me. And, of course, I considered the idea of replacing the fax line with my Twitter handle after someone I follow on Twitter talked about doing it herself. I tweeted the idea and got feedback from several others encouraging me to go ahead. How’s that for a great example of a personal learning network in action?

Upon distributing my new cards at a recent educators’ forum, the result was instantaneously unanimous: “Oh, I hate Twitter.” OK … we got to talking about the points mentioned above, as well as me explaining how I have used Twitter as a tool for developing my own personal learning network while also providing timely access to topical news, research and information. There were many nods of agreement but the bottom line remained: “it’s not for me”. Fair enough. Maybe their perceptions will change in time?

What do you see the role of social media such as Twitter playing in terms of building an organisation’s brand? Can you think of any organisations which you feel are already doing this particularly well? What might be the secrets to their success?