Twitter is only one PLN-building tool

One of my all-time favorite people is Marsha Ratzel, the mind behind the Reflections of a Techie blog.  Marsha and I have been TLN colleagues—and like minds—forever.

In response to my recent post on the ways that Twitter can save you time, she wrote:

Maybe Im doing something wrong but Im having much more success in building a PLN through my FB friends and through the readers of my blog.

Maybe the point is that some people gravitate one way because of their style or because of those they find…maybe the point is that you should be out there trying all the forms and formats…finding which one works best for you and then using it to its maximum advantage.

Like most of what Marsha writes and thinks, she’s spot on here, isn’t she?

I’ll bet that there are literally dozens of educators who have struggled to build a PLN in Twitter.  Like most conversations about technology in schools, though, we’ve got to remember that the tool is secondary to the behavior.

That’s what I worked to explain in my response to Marsha.

Hope it resonates with you—especially if you’re one of those folks who wants to learn online but hasn’t had much success in the digital soup that I’ve fallen in love with.

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Hey Marsha,

Glad to see you here—and your comment is brilliant!

For a long while yesterday morning, I considered naming my post PLNs can SAVE You Time simply because you are right: Twitter didn’t save me time yesterday—-my PLN did, and I just happened to build that PLN using Twitter.

If you’re networking through Facebook successfully, or through the comment sections in blog entries, or through conversations in the faculty room, you are accomplishing the same goal that I am in Twitter.

In the end, I chose to focus on Twitter in my post simply because it seems to have a worse rap than other social media services yet it has been really successful for me.

A few more thoughts:

(1). Whenever someone is trying to build a PLN—regardless of the tool—I recommend that they bring friends with them. Friends are far more likely to read and respond to your questions than strangers.

That probably explains why you are more successful in Facebook right now than Twitter. I’d bet—and I don’t know for sure—-that you are networked with more people that you have personal relationships already with there.

(2). I’ve had more success in Twitter, I think, because outside of my blog, it is the only social media service that I use. While I’ve got a Facebook page, I haven’t even logged into it since June of last year.

There’s a lesson in both of our stories, I think—and it’s a lesson you articulate in your comment: Successfully building a PLN means finding a space you are comfortable with and sticking with it.

(3). If you are determined to use more than one space for networking, though, I’d recommend using a service like TweetDeck to make participation in both spaces possible from one place.

In TweetDeck, you can follow and participate in conversations in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn all at once—and you can cross post messages in more than one place all at once.

That’s a huge time-saver because you’re not wasting time checking in to multiple places every day. It also multiplies the audience that your post gets in front of—which increases your chances of getting a reply.

Does any of this make sense?

Rock right on,
Bill