Twitter as a social media starting point

I’ve been quiet here on the Radical this week because I’m putting the final edits on my third book—a bit I’m coauthoring with Eric Sheninger and Jason Ramsden on how principals can use social media spaces to communicate with stakeholders and to provide customized professional development for themselves and their faculties.

In the course of our chapter on using social media spaces to communicate, we make the argument that Twitter—despite being less popular with parents—is the right social media starting point for principals just dipping their toes into new digital waters.

Here’s why:

Twitter is a more approachable tool than Facebook.

Maintaining a professional presence in Facebook requires a ton more monitoring and management than maintaining a professional presence in Twitter simply because all that Twitter enables is simple, quick sharing.

Facebook, on the other hand, enables shared calendaring, warehousing of interesting pictures, videos and documents, and the facilitation of ongoing, threaded discussions with audiences.

While all of those Facebook features are incredibly important because they create interactive and engaging digital homes for schools, they also require more time to develop and maintain.

If you are a principal with a heaping cheeseton of extra time on your hands, tackle Facebook first.  But if you are completely swamped like the rest of us, Twitter is a more logical—and more approachable—first step.

The expectations that users have for the kinds of content shared in Twitter streams versus Facebook pages are different.

Not only does Facebook enable a whole range of content and conversation sharing that Twitter doesn’t, users have grown to expect that content and those conversations when they land on the Facebook pages of the organizations that serve them.

Take the Edutopia Facebook page as an example.

When I land there, I expect to see pictures and videos.  I expect to see ongoing moderated conversations.  I expect to see advertisements for upcoming events.  I expect to see links to contact information and other content that I can interact with and/or download.

In fact, I feel let down when I go to a Facebook page that’s not well developed and populated.  It makes me think the organization is slack.

There’s no way to make a Twitter page well developed and populated.

That means Twitter requires less time and energy from a principal just experimenting with social media spaces.  While it may be a tool parents know less about, it’s also a tool that busy principals can manage and maintain.

Districts don’t trust Facebook

While Facebook may have MILLIONS more users than Twitter, it has also garnered its fair share of negative press in school circles.

Frequent stories about students using the site to engage in cyberbullying, continuing fears of chance interactions between teens and Internet predators, and repeated incidents of poor choices made by educators who forget that their responsibility as role models doesn’t end when they’re living online cause some districts to specifically ban employees from interacting with parents and students in Facebook.

If that’s the case in your district, using Facebook becomes even more difficult, doesn’t it?

While I’d hope that you’d begin advocating for more a more progressive Facebook policy—ignoring the spaces that our parents and our students have embraced is not only arrogant, it’s ignorant—that kind of advocacy takes time that you probably don’t have!

So whaddya’ think?  Is a Twitter-first approach to social media spaces something that you’d recommend, too?  Can you think of any other advantages that I’ve missed?

Or am I missing the boat completely by arguing in favor of Twitter as a social media starting point?

Looking forward to your feedback.

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