Monday, February 20, 2017

3 Untapped Social Media Resources Worth A Second Look

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information as adults and as educators, there are still many untapped resources to learn from and share with and grow, especially through social media. Being a connected educator doesn’t mean sticking to one favorite platform and having that singular lens to learn from. We want students to have multiple perspectives so we should expect the same from ourselves.

If there is any doubt that very nearly everyone uses social media, let’s examine some stats from the Pew Internet Research Study. This is an ongoing look at the way all of us use digital resources, consume information and our feelings and attitudes towards it all. They just updated their social media data for 2016.

Of All U.S Adults:

  • 79% use Facebook. Nearly 3/4 of these visit at least once per day!
  • 32% use Instagram
  • 31% use Pinterest
  • 29% use LinkedIn
  • 24% use Twitter
Whats even more surprising is that demographics don’t seem to matter. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, no matter the ethnicity or gender or where someone lives, adults are using these platforms and many of them choosing to use more than one. 

We can safely assume that Social Media is a part of most people’s lives. So it makes sense that as educators we look to what social media can offer in terms of consumption and sharing so that we can learn and grow ourselves. 

And many have done that.

I have been an advocate for the use of Twitter for as long as I have had an account there. Many educators have sat in my sessions or watched my webinars or read my books where I talk all about the benefits of Twitter and being connected. There are loads of others who have put their own spin on that type of learning as well.

But I think I (and maybe others) have missed the point.

Sure. Twitter is a wonderful resource. There are countless hashtags, links and images shared every day. But if we want to be as data-driven outside the classroom as we are inside of it we are missing a large segment of the population to share with and grow from. There are many untapped resources that even I am guilty of ignoring or dismissing that we just can’t any longer.

1) Facebook-As we can see Facebook is still the most popular social network among Internet-using adults in the US. So it makes sense to start here as a potential untapped resource. I use Facebook everyday. But I use it in a more personal way, sharing photos and videos with friends and family. However, I’ve learned there are educational pages where folks are sharing and learning that far outpace anything Twitter is able to do. Take for example We Are Teachers. This is an incredible resource that I’ve followed on Twitter for a long time. Jump over to Facebook and they have almost a million followers there. And the resources are some you can’t find anywhere else. Or Edutopia, over 1 million followers on Facebook. Even my good friend Richard Byrne, author of the wildly popular FreeTech4Teachers Blog has nearly half a million followers on Facebook. And these are just a handful of pages worth checking out. A quick Google Search reveals many lists and suggestions for educational Facebook pages to follow.

All these pages are great for consuming information but can be great for sharing as well. You can share posts and resources that you create or find. (Different pages have different rules on that so make sure you check that out first.) Imaging something you are really excited to share now goes out to a network with over 1,000,000 people following it. You can also start you own page very easily as well and use it as an extension of your social and digital voice.

2) LinkedIn- Another social network at least having on your radar is LinkedIn. For a long time LinkedIn was seen as the place to have a presence just incase someone wanted to offer you a job or a place to have a profile it you were in the market for one. But as the Pew Internet Data shows us, almost 1/3 of all internet users are there. So take advantage of it! Set up notifications or visit your LinkedIn feed at least once a week. See what others are sharing there. I was flabbergasted to discover blog posts, articles and more that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. I spent over an hour reading and discovering new voices I might not have found anywhere else.

LinkedIn can also be a great place to share information that you might not be thinking about. Remember, LinkedIn is the first professional social network. It doesn’t have to be about looking for a job. It can be about simply sharing the awesome work you do. Set your blog up to auto-post there or join one of the great educational groups to share with. The International Society for Technology In Education (ISTE) has a large group there along with other subject or role specific groups.

3) Pinterest- I joke often about how I’ve eaten a lot of good things from Pinterest and found lots of projects to do with my daughters there as well. But as an educational resource its huge. Now, I know that but it’s one I haven’t used much and I’ve been missing out. As many of you will probably tell me it is huge in the education space. I’ve written about how to evaluate the resources found there but I need to take my own advice and use it more. Just the Education Category there shows tons and tons of resources to consume and explore. Kasey Bell has one of the best lists I’ve seen of some the most popular educational centric Pinterest boards to follow.

On the flip side leverage Pinterest to share as well. Creating boards is easy and there are a number of browser extensions and add-ons to make it easy to share there. Pinterest is very visual so any type of image you can use to grab someone’s attention works well. Create and organize boards for individual topics or ideas.

I admit, on many of these I am late to the party. I’ve spent a number of years evangelizing the benefits of Twitter. I still believe Twitter is the fastest and one of the best places to learn, grow and share. But we need to have multiple learning lenses and there is more than one place to learn. These are some of the most widely used social networks used across all internet using adults in the US. So let’s leverage the power of social and consume better and share better.

In my next post I’ll look at the same data for those under the age of 18 and provide some ideas for kids and students to leverage the social networks they are using the most to share, learn and grow. 

Download the graphic.

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