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How can school administrators use Twitter to reach parents and the community?

November 14, 2009

I picked this up this week via my Twitter feed:

mrhundermark does anyone have any ideas about how administrators might use twitter to reach parents and community members?

I replied, but couldn’t begin to fit a full response within Twitter’s 140 character limit. But, I felt like Mr. Hundermark asked a really good question so I’m sharing my answer here.

The first thing you should do if you want to use Twitter to communicate with your audience is to start twittering. I know this sounds like overly simple, circular logic, but really it doesn’t get any more complex than that. A twitter account is free, and nobody has ever gotten in trouble for sending the wrong kind of tweet. Just jump in, get your feet wet, and learn by writing tweets and observing what other people are doing.

Next, you will want to grow your list of followers. This is pretty simple too. Start by following other twitterers in your field, and eventually as they begin to trust the information that you are twittering out they will return the favor. As you review your twitter stream, share information from people you follow by retweeting it to your followers. This will also help you attract followers to your twitter stream.

Okay, so now you have a twitter account and a few followers, but where do you go from here? Get into the habit of watching your twitterfeed, managing your list of followers, and retweeting information that you found helpful on a daily basis.

I know that Mr. Hundermark is already on Twitter, and suspect that he probably understands most of the basics of using Twitter. His questions actually has less to do with Twitter than it does with marketing and content strategy.

Ultimately, its about deciding what you should tweet, and what you shouldn’t.

The running joke about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites is that there doesn’t seem to be a limit to what people will write about. And, while you could write about just about anything you wanted to on Twitter, its important to stay focussed on a set range of topics. Sit down and write a list of all of the topics you want your twitterfeed to cover, and then try to eliminate the ones that are the least valuable to your audience.

Most organizations or businesses already have content in the form of newsletters or a website which they can refer people to in their twitterfeed. Does this mean that every piece of information that’s printed in your newsletter needs to be repeated in your feed? Not necessarily. Upload your newsletter to the web and then send a link to it in a tweet, direct your followers to an update on your website, or tease a new product.

“Convergence” and “community” are key words these days when it comes to communication over the web. This means that its important to always look for ways to repurpose your content for the multiple channels that are available to an organization. You probably want to claim credit for the information that you provide by sharing it only over your own twitterfeed, but a better way is to think of yourself as a contributer to a much larger online community. This can be done in Twitter by using hashtags which allows your tweets to be picked up in multiple searches.

Think about how each message relates to your audience, and then include hashtags so it will be found by the right people. For example, say that your school is holding a bake sale. You might write the following:

Bake Sale at Springfield Elementary. 9a-10a Sat.

You could easily make this tweet more visible by including hashtags. Ask yourself who would benefit the most from the announcement? Who would be the most interested? Remember that the purpose of your Tweete should be twofold: Attract people to your event (of course), but also to get the word out to your followers so they can retweet your message to their audience. If the information is interesting enough, and they support your organization, chances are that they will share your message with their followers. Before you know it, your cake sale announcement could reach thousands of people.

So, let’s try to improve the reach of the same tweet:

Bake Sale at Springfield Elementary. 9a-10a Sat. #springfield #schools #fundraisers

I’ve added hashtags which should associate the message with the keywords that people most likely would search for. “Springfield” seemed like a good choice, since its probably the name of the community or town the school serves, “schools” in case someone is searching for school information, and “fundraisers” so the event would show up in a search for fundraisers. “Event” might also be another commonly used keyword phrase. The best thing we can do is try different hashtags until we find out which ones work the best.

Mr. Hundermark’s biggest challenge will be reaching the biggest percentage of his audience. Twitter helps him do that, but no matter how big or popular it gets there will never be a guarantee that every parent and community member in his school distrct will get a Twitter account. This is why it is better to think of Twitter as being one piece of a much larger web marketing strategy involving several different social media sites. Fortunately, it has gotten easier to spread your messages over multiple networks, so it is up to the individual to make best use of their resources.

So, while the answer to Mr. Hundermark’s question is long, it is actually pretty simple. Send tweets, grow followers, support the people you follow, and use hashtags to improve the visibility of your messages. And, cross-post your announcement to other social media services so you can reach as many people as possible.

Posted via web from Honked

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Twitter Replay – November 11, 2009

November 12, 2009

 

A summary of today’s of the day’s best tweets by topic.

Do you have a list of favorite tweets that you’d like to share? Contact Jon Morgan at 32bpwr3@gmail.com.

November 11, 2009

Education

  • EduGuide: RT @educatedlife: in defense of lecturing in the social studies classroom #education http://bit.ly/3careM
  • EduGuide: RT @collegeprowler: RT @YOUniversityTV College admission tougher for girls than boys? http://twurl.nl/gwfki7
  • EduGuide: @MyYoungChild It was our pleasure! When you get a moment, check out our website at http://www.eduguide.org.
  • EduGuide: @CharlieGrounds You’re welcome, and you too!
  • EduGuide: RT @AAEteachers: “Education is not filling a pail, but the lighting of a fire” William Butler Yeats | #education #inspiration #quotes
  • EduGuide: RT @alfredtwo: Wait while I look that up on the Internet:  http://bit.ly/1YC2TD
  • EduGuide: RT @teachermagazine: Web Connects K-12 Students With Scientists: http://bit.ly/1wbx4i
  • EduGuide: RT @successsecret: Blog Post: Problems Can b Opps in Disguise- http://budurl.com/gz3f
  • EduGuide: RT @College_Success: November is National Scholarship Month…  http://bit.ly/zxYVs RT @campuscompare:
  • EduGuide: RT @College_Success: RT @educationweek Measuring College Engagement, Achievement http://bit.ly/7Wvh4
  • EduGuide: RT @mommyperks: 14 educational games for kids: http://bit.ly/ntRPi
  • EduGuide: RT @educatedlife: Digitally Revamped Library Eschews Books, Stacks #education http://bit.ly/ifpMp
  • EduGuide: RT @ResourcefulMom: Just 15 minutes to go until our Twitter event for National Adoption Month. Join us at  —-> #adoptuskids
  • EduGuide: Voices of Michigan Education radio show to examine parent-teacher communications tonight at 7 p.m. on #WJR 760. #mea http://bit.ly/1uegWm
  • EduGuide: RT @edutopia: RT @EdutopiaBetty: Should #specialed students part. in stand. testing? If not, what can we do abt it? http://bit.ly/3XHrrc
  • EduGuide: RT @dcmp_tweets: RT @TechnologyInEd: RT @FNDFLTILES: http://bit.ly/1UVhNh Disneyland Introduces new Audio Description Service
  • EduGuide: RT @tdisanza: FYI: Blackboard Adds BlackBerry App for Mobile Web Platform http://ow.ly/160wm6
  • EduGuide: RT @kalinagoenglish: RT @EnglishProfi: Using Blogs and Wikis in the Classroom http://bit.ly/aKrjd gr8 read RT @abfromz via @tombarrett
  • EduGuide: RT @joebjr: RT: @wuInstMedia Twitter and Penguins: How The San Francisco Zoo Uses Twitter http://bit.ly/31zd3n
  • EduGuide: RT @gnaeyaert: Rhee: We need to educate & empower parents with the data we have, & how schools are performing, & that will lead to reform!!

 

Posted via web from Life Cycle

Happy Birthday, Josh!

November 12, 2009

We celebrated Josh’s 7th birthday tonight by eating dinner at McDonald’s with our friends the Hollidays. This was our way of honoring his actual birthday, but already threw a party for relatives on Sunday, and on Saturday we’re having a few of his friends over for another party.

See photos Josh’s party on Sunday at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=131551&id=703817664&saved#/album.php?aid=131551&id=703817664

 

Posted via web from Life Cycle

Where I Need to Be

November 10, 2009


“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
–Douglas Adams

I’m not sure that I ever figured out where I wanted to go, but somehow I still feel like I did end up where I needed to be. I’m talking about more than just our location, although we’ve really enjoyed the friendly, slower pace of Shepherd over the life we had in Lansing. I have a great family all in good health, and I have a job where I get to do something that I enjoy doing. The road we followed was a little rough, but I can’t imagine any better way for us to get where we are now.

Had we lived where we wanted to live, we would have stayed in Livingston County where I grew up and where I had my first job out of college. I think that in her heart, my wife would have preferred to stay in her hometown, but instead agreed to move to where I was living. So, she resigned from her teaching job in Marlette, but before we started our hunt for a new apartment I learned that my company was being dissolved and I was losing my job.

My First Website

My first website was a cheesy four paged deal where I wrote about my friends and posted a cheesy graphic with a globe, the words “Jon’s World,” and a couple of random images from shows or movies that I liked. So, needless to say it was pretty limited by today’s standards, but back in 1996 it was pretty typical for a personal homepage.

I put together one night while I was on duty at the Journalism Mac Lab inside Anspach hall on CMU’s campus. I had transferred over there from Woldt-Emmons where I had worked as a computer consultant for a few semesters. And, I started working at the computer lab after I had grown tired of working for the campus newspaper.

So, my life seemed to have already been following a path away from Journalism and towards something having to do with computers. I always suspected that I would be able to blend my writing and computer skills somehow–perhaps by covering a technology beat. But, I couldn’t have imagined that my first job would have been with an Internet Service Provider in Howell.

HomeTown Online

Just to show you the way things were back then, I got the position as a web designer at HomeTown Online based mostly on my college degree and the personal webpage I had developed on my own while I was in college. When I started, there were only four people, but eventually we grew to a staff of seven. I was one of three dedicated web designers, with one of them working part-time, and then our manager Jonthan Terry, two helpdesk technicians, and then one person who handled the billing.

We were all crammed in the back of HomeTown Newspapers, the company which at that time printed Livingston County’s two newspaper weeklies. Cameron and I dedicated one day each week towards manually converting the articles from each issue of the paper into webpages. This was where I began to sink my teeth into improving the look of the sites for the Livingston County Press and Brighton Argus. In the long run, it wouldn’t matter, but at the time I took a lot of pride in my work.

Our operation was pretty informal and, at times, a little disorganized. I tried to help out by designing forms and contracts for new clients to sign. I also began to meet with clients to help determine what kinds of website projects they were looking for.

Although it seemed like we were making pretty good progress, the truth was that HomeTown Online was a money hole, and our parent company finally made the decision to close down the operation. We were given notice that we were being laid off around April of 1999. This left us with enough time to help close down the operation and, hopefully, find new jobs.

It didn’t feel like it at the time, but this really was a good change for me especially as I was planning to get married that summer. I really needed a job that paid better than $9 per hour, and even if HomeTown Online hadn’t been shut down I wasn’t really going to grow much farther than I already had.

And the Rest . . .

After that, I got married, moved to Haslett, started working for the Michigan State Medical Society, became a father, and then changed jobs for a second time all in the span of three years. We moved to Shepherd to be closer to Central Michigan University’s campus where I worked for Special Olympics Michigan, and haven’t left since. I did, however, leave my job at Special Olympics and ended up working for Dow Chemical for almost four years before that project was shut down.

Now I’m working for EduGuide in Lansing, but I can’t shake the feeling that I wouldn’t be the person I am now without all of those little setbacks, changes, and detours that came before. I’ve also been left with a set of skills which often in handy during my current job.

On the Case this Halloween as “Jack Bauer”

October 14, 2009

I’m a big enthusiast about dressing up for Halloween, but not very good about putting together costumes. The highlights of my Halloween as an adult consist of the two years (yes, in a row) when I went as a “poor man’s” version of a Starfleet officer, and last year when I dressed up in a cape and referred to myself as a Sith Lord. In both of those cases, I was lucky enough to have the accessories I needed to just barely pull off the looks I wanted.

Nonetheless, I’ve been very dissappointed with the constumes I’ve worn for Halloween these last few years, so last year I swore to myself that I would be more proactive about thinking of something better. One idea I’ve bounced around is to dress up as one of those Bridge officers from the Star Wars films. You know, the guys in the all-black or grey costumes with the British accents and chiclets glued to their chests who are always being strangled by Darth Vader.

My theory was that I only needed to find an all-grey or all-black suit, tall leather boots, and a helmet that would make me look like those characters from the movies. These were some great thoughts, but unfortunately Halloween came and went so I moved on to other things, like life and getting my shopping done for Christmas.

This year I’ve used my new, proactive approach to Halloween to develop a very practical costume idea: Dress up as a CTU agent. If anybody asks, I’ll tell them that I’m Jack Bauer, the lead character from the show “24,” but in case I want to avoid snickers I will just say that I’m one of those CTU agents you see in the background, or maybe Jack’s partner. You know, those characters who are invented just so they can be killed off half way through the season.

<img title=”Walther P99″ src=”http://www.impactguns.com/store/media/wal_p99.jpg&#8221; alt=”Example of the gun carried by Jack Bauer on the show 24.” width=”300″ height=”233″ />

Example of the gun carried by Jack Bauer on the show &quot;24.&quot;

My costume will be relatively simple. About a month ago I bought a toy gun from Halloween USA that’s similar to the type used by Jack and other characters on the show. I already have something I can use as a holster, and this weekend I ordered the officially licensed Jack Bauer Halloween Kit from Meijer.com. The kid comes with: bullet proof vest, taser, cellphone, badge, watch, I.D. card, makeup for applying the look of scarring on your face, and a tannish brown satchel like the one worn by Jack Bauer during the more recent seasons of “24.”

I really only ordered the kit for the badge and the bulletproof vest, but the other accessories are also a nice touch. I’m not too crazy about the blue bulletproof vest or the man bag with the big “CTU” logo on the front of it, but I’m willing to work around it.

The only way the expense will be worth it, of course, is if I’m able to wear this costume in public. Last year, I wore my Sith Lord costume to the Trunk ‘n’ Treat at the Coe Church, and this year I’m hoping there will be an opportunity at work. I am a little worried about bringing a fake gun to work, so maybe I will just bring the taser.

My friend was asking me why I was going to all of the trouble of buying a costume that I’m only going to wear once. He admitted that he had considered ordering a Darth Vader costume for himself, but he’s a teacher so he could potentially get more than one use out of it. I explained that I could still use parts from the Jack Bauer disguise, such as the badge if I want to be a FBI agent for Halloweens to come. With additional decoration, the bulletproof vest could become almost anything else.
<blockquote>I’m wondering what everyone else is planning for Halloween this year. Will you be dressing up like me, or participating as an observer only? Do you make your own costume or go with store bought outfits?</blockquote>

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October 12, 2009

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