In education we talk about the benefits of using social media followed by an assumption that everyone knows how to get started. For those who have jumped in, bravo! For those who are a little more tentative I would like to highlight six practical steps for navigating the Twitter landscape. Please be sure to add your comments below and share your thoughts and advice for building Twitter capacity!
Step 1 – Land a Descriptive Hashtag
The truth of the matter is you can create the most amazing content but if you can’t land that content the middle of active traffic, you miss out on an opportunity to connect with others. Most buildings and districts use consistent hashtags to build capacity across their organization and community.
Here are some things to consider as your hashtag should:
- Make sense – don’t confuse your audience by misrepresenting your message in a non-related hashtag. Decide what your brand stands for and make sure your hashtag represent those qualities.
- Be memorable – you want people to be able to recall the hashtag on the run. Use one hashtag and use it often to build brand loyalty. Watch out when purposely misspelling words as it might be counterintuitive to your audience.
- Be short – the longer your hashtag, the smaller the space to craft your message. Tweets only have 140 characters and that includes hashtags.
- Contain a two-digit year only if it is a timely event – once you brand your image and hashtag, you don’t want to have to change it every year. For buildings and districts, skip the year unless the hashtag is for a one-time only event.
- Be available – check your hashtag on Twitter and see if anyone else is using it. If so, find a different hashtag or run the risk of confusing your audience.
Step 2 – Create a Building Twitter List
Build Twitter lists for your buildings and/or district and follow your educators and coaches. Here is an example for Liberty High School. Twitter users can then use the list and follow people in their organization as well as subscribe to the list to get automatic updates. Added bonus: TweetDeck users, add a column for your organization and be part of the on-going conversation!
Step 3 – Twitter 10
Don’t underestimate the power of Social Media as a connector. Too often people use Twitter as a consumption mechanism, which isn’t bad, but full-time lurking misses the point. Take 10 minutes a day to scroll through your building’s hashtag and Twitter list. Try a 3-2-1 approach to get started:
- Favorite 3 tweets
- Reply to 2 tweets with extending ideas or compelling questions
- Connect 1 tweet to another person or retweet to a different hashtag to expand the conversation beyond your building (or district)
Step 4 – Highlight Tweets in School Newsletters
Social media is all about the collective experience. No longer does one person hold the key to telling a story. Find compelling tweets from your teachers and students that are building relationships, sharing what education looks like, or adding compelling questions and ideas to the greater educational community.
This is a great way for staff who are not yet sure of Twitter to experience the kinds of posts your teachers are sharing with the world. It can be as simple as a screenshot:
Step 5 – Twitter Tango
It takes 21 days to create a habit. Before sharing becomes automatic, you will need to practice to get comfortable with tweeting using hashtags and adding compelling multimedia to your tweets.
Tomorrow, try locating a Twitter friendly staff member and go into their classroom to practice your tweeting skills.
- Start by writing down the teacher’s Twitter user name so you can refer to it in your post.
- Go in with 1-2 hashtags you intend to use. Be sure your building or district hashtag is one of them.
- Look at what the students are doing, and consider writing your tweet as a summary.
- Get an action shot of students working or in the middle of an activity. Be descriptive as you share what is occurring.
- Try posting 2-3 tweets during your visit. You don’t want to bombard your hashtag, but sometimes it takes more than one tweet to share what is happening.
Step 6 – Beyond the Grandpa Effect
Images for celebration build a culture of respect and excitement, but don’t forget about adding to the larger educational community. Consider sharing images of what students are doing. Anticipate the questions you might ask if you saw the social media post and write your post to answer those questions. Before I publish my tweet, I stop to consider if I were reading the tweet from another school would I retweet it? If the answer is no I decide was my purpose for sharing a celebration or am I trying to help others connect with people or ideas…if the answer is the latter, I make adjustments to the content of my tweet.
Below is an example where I wanted the audience to be able to see what the kids were reading and then to see the activity in action.
Bonus Twitter Tips
- Videos can be shared but they must be less than 30 seconds to upload directly to Twitter
- You can share up to 4 images on a single tweet
- Unless you are replying to someone, don’t start a tweet with a Mention aka @ because the only people who will see the tweet are those who follow BOTH the sender and the person mentioned.
Even with only six steps listed, Twitter can seem overwhelming. The trick is to pick ONE thing and get started today!
What is the ONE step above that might lead to more Twitter interaction in your building?