Sunday, August 14, 2016

How and why to use Twitter

Twitter is a real-time information network that connects people to the latest information based on who or what associations and organizations the user chooses to follow. Each user gets to develop a profile and banner to represent themselves.  I use Twitter professionally and do not have a separate personal account. I follow and am followed by my Superintendent, School Board members, district staff, and parents. I also follow any counseling organizations I find, many mental health and education groups, and school counselors and related providers of mental health services around the globe. I use Facebook as my personal social media platform and never friend parents from my school. Twitter is a great free tool to:
1) Market your school counseling program. Twitter provides a vehicle to advocate for our profession,
educate our stakeholders, promote our activities, increase appropriate use of our services, and builds productive community relationships.
2) Get your message out. The content that is important to your counseling can be pushed out by using key words after the # symbol. For example, if one of your program goals is to improve attendance you can use #schooleveryday or #everydaycounts.
3) Provide access. Twitter gives you access to unlimited professional development like free webinars, podcasts, articles, etcetera on topics that interest you. Being on Twitter also gives others access to you as a resource.
4) Communicate and collaborate. You can communicate through postings to all your followers and you can send a tweet to a specific person using @mbmccormac. You can encourage your followers to take action based on the nature of your message.
5) Learn. Twitter is a huge part of my own Professional Learning Network.  I discover new ideas that help me improve my program and practice every day.
7) Connect to others. My favorite part of using Twitter is connecting with other school counselors. I have made many online colleagues and been fortunate to meet them in person at ASCA National Conferences. The best way to connect with counselors is participating in some of the regularly scheduled Titter Chats by #SCCrowd #scchat and #escchat.
8) Share. To get the most out of Twitter you should Tweet on a regular basis. When I find helpful articles, books, and other resources I tweet out links and pictures. I also tweet out what I am teaching in classroom lessons and special events sponsored by my program.
9) Get energy. I find the connecting and collaborating on Twitter keeps me energized from new ideas and feedback from colleagues.
10) Get support. If you have a question or need a specific resource you can send out a message to followers and most of the time someone will respond. If you use Twitter often people will start directing ideas to you based on what you have shared. When you open your Twitter feed you will see Notifications from your followers.

I want to suggest you try the school counseling Twitter Chats as a way to really take advantage of Twitter. The School Counselor Tweet Chat #scchat is the first Tuesday of each month at 8 PM EST. It is organized by @ecmason and @sch_counselor. The Elementary School Counselor Chat #escchat is the second and fourth Thursday at 8 PM EST. The best way to participate in a Twitter Chat is to download TweetDeck which is an App that customizes and organizes your Twitter feed. You can follow your home feed and 3 or 4 hashtags you want to track. (See mine above) If you don't use TweetDeck it can be very hard to keep up with questions and responses during a chat. Feel free to get started by just following the chats and once you feel comfortable join in. Twitter has many other features. For example, you can Tweet a poll which is a way of asking followers to engage. I have gotten feedback from parents in my learning community who tell me they feel like they "talk to me every day" because they read my Tweets. That lets me know Twitter is a valuable Public Relations tool!

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