For a long time in the edu-blogosphere, we’ve gotten excited, passionately debated, and even wrung our hands about what it means to tweet as an educator. As someone who has been on edu-twitter since 2009, I’ll tell you that my interactions in the environment have evolved. The analogy I often use is that it was once an underground party of misfits and now it’s a large function in a ballroom.
Now that I work at a system level in education, I’ve been having many conversations with brilliant people about what it means to tweet as a team, a school, or an organization. This is a bit different than tweeting as an individual. There are so many things to consider, not the least of which being:
- What pictures should we use?
- How do we describe ourselves?
- What should we tweet?
- How do we reply?
- Who should we follow?
The thing I find interesting about wrestling with these issues is that there is absolutely no “right” answer. Social media is most engaging when its users feel like the “rules” are being written as you go, as opposed to abiding by a universal protocol. This might be why it’s often youth that innovates in social media environments. It’s also a reason why it’s such a great medium for critical and creative thinking.
When I think of organizations that I follow on Twitter which do a nuanced job of public relations, engaging with audiences, and communicating news and announcements, a couple in particular come to mind. First, the Toronto Police:
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) October 5, 2016
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 5, 2016
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) October 4, 2016
In a time when most organizations feel the pressure to cultivate and promote their brand in social media spaces, I see the Toronto Police’s efforts as a strong example of cultivating voice, not just a sterile presence, in a crowded space.
I also think of The Mehrit Centre‘s account which promotes Self-Regulation:
— The Mehrit Centre (@Self_Reg) October 14, 2016
— The Mehrit Centre (@Self_Reg) October 13, 2016
— The Mehrit Centre (@Self_Reg) October 12, 2016
I’m so impressed with the way The Mehrit Centre uses beautiful photography to communicate their message, not to mention the commitment they have to amplifying voices that support it.
If you’re a group or a team looking to establish a presence online, I believe the following are some questions you might consider. Ask yourself:
- Why a Twitter account? What will the purpose be? (I mean, Apple didn’t really even have one until this year!)
- Is the goal of your account to make the work you do more transparent or less? Because if it’s the latter, I would argue that people will see right through it.
- What images will you literally construct? Pictures speak a million times louder than words on social media.
- What conversations are you interested and willing to be a part of? How will you lead and facilitate conversation? Because, make no mistake, social media is a conversation whether you think you’re taking part in it or not. If you’re not prepared to interact with voices that may be respectfully dissenting, perhaps you shouldn’t start or enter that conversation in the first place?
- Which community/ies are you hoping to help grow, uplift, and support the voices of?
- How will you make certain that your presence in the space evolves over time?
I’d love for you to share your experience and thoughts about tweeting as an organization in the comments below.