Why Am I Using Social Media?

Social media is on my mind a lot lately.  The district educational technology department where I work is currently initiating a huge push into social media, and I’m heavily involved with it.  We are using it first to promote the good things our teachers, tech. specialists, and librarians are doing for students in our district.  We are also hoping to inspire all of those educators to engage in social media themselves to share their own good things and to learn from what other educators out in the world are sharing, and know how to help students connect to all of these many social resources as well.

While thinking about this push and how to do it, yesterday I happened upon this little article called “10 Twitter Hacks To Help You Rethink Your Social Voice” from TeachThought, which I liked because it wasn’t the typical list of social marketing tricks to get more followers and be more influential that you usually see in articles with titles like this. Rather, it presented a number of real questions and ideas directed towards educators to cause reflection as to just why we are connecting on social media in the first place, and some subtle cautions against getting caught up in the gamification of social media.  The number one “hack” they list is to define your social media goals and purposes, so that you can then determine how to proceed so as to meet them and be “successful.”  An educator’s social media goals and therefore processes should probably be somewhat different from a marketer’s goals and processes.

So I know pretty well why we are trying to do this social media push professionally, but it leaves me with the question of why I am attempting to involve myself in social media personally.  I happened upon another helpful article today from teacher librarian Travis Jonker at School Library Journal in which he documents the ways he has tried using social media as a school librarian, some of his specific successes in social media, and the successes of others.  Conversely informative and eye opening on this topic of how and why to use social media was the article “The Downside to Being a Connected Educator” by teacher-blogger Pernille Ripp.  She warns about the comparative dangers of the game and the effect it can have on other aspects of your professional and personal life. (I should give due credit that I found both the Ripp article and the TeachThought article via blogger Elisabeth Ellington’s excellent Sunday Salon Online Reading Round-up.)

All of this percolating has combined to inspire me to attempt to answer for myself this question, “Why am I using social media?”  I want to answer it authentically and transparently, right here and right now, because that’s just how I want to do things.  So, here are my goals and purposes in personally participating in social media, particularly via Twitter (@jdwhiting) and this blog:

Why Am I Using Social Media?

  1. To practice writing for an audience and become a better writer.
  2. To find some friends, esp. to find people who are interested in things I am interested in and attempt to engage in conversations with them. (I think this is something friends do, but I’m not really sure.)
  3. To find good ideas and resources, esp. for libraries and education.
  4. To share things I have and do that may end up being good ideas and resources for others.
  5. To practice and model a way to be personally active in social media to my work colleagues, particularly for reasons 3 + 4 above, which are most relevant to our work.
  6. To get unwarranted attention for random obnoxious behavior.
  7. To become famous and rich, in that order.
  8. To help everyone become a Mormon.

So I believe this is a nice refinement of my goals for this blog and my twitter use. I still have a long way to go at being “successful” with some of these,  but listing them helps me clarify what to do and where to go now.  Thanks, TeachThought!  In the coming weeks I think I’m really going to focus on increasing my levels of random obnoxiousness.

Consider this a new, improved update to the Pretend Librarian’s Guide to Socially Awkward Media. Thanks for reading.

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