The Back Story - Scroll Down for the Advice
Twitter users of all kinds use hashtags. The link-enabled label sweeps its way across tweets and other places like television shows. Sometimes these hashtags are to emphasize that you are feeling #Excited. Sometimes these hashtags replace sentences. #DontReallyDoThis. #ItsABadUseOfTwitter. Sometimes these hashtags are a way for a community with a common interest to share their thoughts, network, and even chat.
Now, I have to take a second to thank my sister for being the giant database of all things YouTube related. It is her source of entertainment, and it provides me with a really great story and set up for this post.
Rhett and Link are not only Youtubers, but they are very popular YouTubers. They put out their video in the morning and start each video with, "Good Mythical Morning." to all of their mythical beasts (followers/subscribers/fans). The community that follows Rhett and Link on Twitter and otherwise communicate using the hashtag #GMM. That is all fine and well, but starting Tuesday, tension started brewing.
Two news stations, one in Memphis and the other in Maryland started to get into the social media game in trying to connect with their viewers. I can speculate all day why they did not consider a more unique hashtag, but in instead, they went into the #GMM arena as "Good Morning ______" with the blank being either Memphis or Maryland, respectively. Rhett and Link noticed and put a call out to the news stations offering advice that they all can not use #GMM because the different communities would not be able to effectively communicate with those sharing the interest. Rhett and Link indicated that by shear mass of the tweets, they suggested that these stations find a better, more suitable hashtag unique for their community.
The news stations did not take it kindly and stated that they were the rightful holders of the #GMM hashtag. The response from Rhett and Link as well as their mythical beasts was outstanding. An all out "Hashtag War" broke out. Fans of Rhett and Link were tweeting to the news reporters as well as the station account all of their feelings and support for the YouTubers. The news reporters fought back with tweets of their own. You can catch the declaration here and an update of the war (still technically going on) from Rhett and Link here.
I think I can safely say that the biggest issue was not the way each party behaved, but the lack of a social media strategy and poor research. Even following this flowchart to the left provided by Mashable could have saved a lot of problems.
Steps to Prevent A Hashtag War
Develop a Strategy - Before you or your company/organization/institution decides to get involved in social media, have a plan in place. My Twitter colleague Josie, @josieahlquist helps define the differences between policies, guidelines and practices, and ultimately helps show what should go into the strategy at the same time. Another fatal flaw that I noticed in this hashtag war was the news reporter accounts lacked professional identity. If you are going to represent your institution/company/organization in you Twitter handle, name, or bio, a professional photo is a necessity and not a photo of your dog or otherwise.
Identify Multiple Potential Hashtags - So you end up with a plan to have a place for your community to engage each other. GREAT! Hashtags provide that ability. Have a few ideas and keep them short to maximize Twitter's 140 character limit. If it is an event, try to refrain from throwing the year on the end so you can save characters and be able to use an archiving service and look at data from year to year.
Search Before You Speak! - Do a Twitter search to identify those already in use. Find one that is not being used. As Rhett and Link pointed out, the hashtag is not just a promotional gimmick, it is what brings a community together. Find the hashtag that is going to bring your community together without being diluted of others from a different community. Once you find one of your potential hashtags and it is not being used? Share it with the masses that is your community!
Hashtags are for Your Community - Yes, it is fun to emphasize that you are #Excited for something. Yes, it is #CuteWhenYourHashtagIsTheTweet. When you do these things (and I am guilty of it too), they really and honestly do not do anything for you. However, if you want to chat with your fellow fans of #Glee, yell how much you are upset that so-and-so was voted off of #Survivor, or talk with your colleagues in student affairs through #SAchat, then you are really getting to the real essence of what a hashtag does for you.
This post was mostly inspired from a quick comment my colleague and one of my best friends IRL Jim (@stanojb) said to me the other day while he was in a twitter chat.
More or less, he commented that there were a lot of people participating, which is a great thing, but there was so much activity going on, that there was no way to follow it all. And here is the first tip for making the most out of your Twitter chats.
Some Quick Tips to Make the Most of Your Chatting Experience
Follow What You can in the Conversation - Whether it is focusing on everyone's answer for a few questions or following a few responses for all the questions, follow what you can handle.
Have the Right Tools - There are a few different ways to get started technology wise for your Twitter chat. Check out my post outlining a few options.
Lurk Once, Participate After - A new group may be intimidating for you. That's okay! "Lurk" or watch the chat occur the first time, and get involved in the chats after that first one. Get a feel for how people respond.
Don't Forget the Hashtag! - This probably should be the first one, but don't forget to include the hashtag in your tweet! It is important so you can add your thoughts to the pool and continue the discussion with everyone. It can be first or last or somewhere in the middle of your tweet.
Check Out the Archive - Whether it is you manually searching the hashtag after the chat or catching a archive someone in the chat made, take a look at what was said. Jim is right, there is a lot going on and everyone is talking at once. Chances are, you missed an important piece of information or thoughts that you either love or want to know more
Network - Maybe easier said than done for some people, but connect with others in the chat, ask questions, continue the discussions after the chat and days in between the chats.
Introduce Yourself - Even if all you are doing is lurking, be sure to introduce yourself to the group. Goes along with the networking.
Find the MOD - It is important to find the moderator or MOD of the conversation. Sometimes it is a person and sometimes it is an account for the chat. It is important to know who it is so you can find the questions easier while you are chatting.
Have Fun! - This is a neat feature to help you continue to learn and grow as a professional while sharing your thoughts. Plus you get to spend sometime with people interested in the same thing as you, which is always awesome!
We know Twitter is a way of sharing information. Sometimes it is a link to an article, sometimes it is a reaction to who was eliminated from the Big Brother House, and sometimes it is letting everyone know you are excited to go on vacation. Whatever the information, we find our tweets riddled with hashtags.
What if there was a specific tag that a group of people used? What if that group of people all hopped onto their Twitter accounts and subsequently "chatted" to one another? Welcome to Twitter Chats or Tweet Chats.
With the inaugural student leader chat #SLchat tomorrow at 7 pm, I wanted to take a second and create a quick post about how to get yourself started technology wise for the chat. Here are three options for following and participating in a Twitter Chat.
Option 1: Twitter
While this looks like the most obvious, it is the most complicated. It involves searching the hashtag, constantly clicking on the new tweets available, and not really feeling like you are in the moment of a chat, but rather a few minutes behind. I do recommend having your Twitter page open to your interactions so you know when someone talks to you.
Option 2: TweetDeck / Hootsuite
Both TweetDeck and Hootsuite are based on the idea of having "streams" of information. Both are free to use. You are able to add a stream (each site has different instructions) that is the searched hashtag. As tweets contain the hashtag, they are added to the stream virtually instantly. There is a much smaller gap and feels like a conversation. The downside is all of your Twitter activity is going on at the same time and can get you distracted.
Option 3: tchat.io / tweetchat.com
Both tchat.io and TweetChat bring the feel of the old school chat-room with the modern nature of Twitter. Both of these sites are web based. You log-in and give permission via your Twitter account. You search the hashtag. The "chat-room" is comprised of a typing area for your tweets (and it already includes the hashtag at the end of the message) followed by a single stream of tweets from the other people chatting. These sites allow you to focus on the chat. You can still reply, favorite, and re-tweet just like you can on Twitter. They are both mobile friendly in the internet app of your choice, which can't really be said for the others (I find them all much more difficult once you go to your phone or tablet).
My Twitter Chat Recipe
After experimenting with all of these options and a few others, my recipe for optimizing my chatting ability is tchat.io in one tab on my computer and my interactions section of Twitter in another tab. If I happen to be on my iPad, then I still use tchat.io, but I must have my keyboard near by. My iPad is set to send me a banner notification of interactions.
This should get you started and involved in the Twitter Chats for whatever your interest is. Let me know if you have any questions by commenting below or connecting with me on Twitter @JoshKohnert.
Click Here to learn how to make the most out of your chatting experience!
Every Thursday at 1pm EST, Student Affairs professionals from all over the world participate in a conversation over Twitter called: #SAchat.
This is where I started my not only my Twitter networking, but my networking with social media in general. Now, I "lurk" more than anything on #SAchat to give my friends that open experience to network like I did. However, this past chat was on a topic that was right up my alley, and I wasn't able to participate.
In fact, my Twitter Bestie, Colleen (@cmmarqua), was kind enough to not only point out that I was gone, but that she missed my thoughts (none of this was sarcasm, I appreciate that you think so highly of me friend). So what was the chat all about?
Well, it was: "Social Media conduct as a SA professional" Without looking at anyone else, here are the MOD questions with my thoughts. I am keeping these response brief because these would normally be tweets. Based on the questions, I'm thinking this isn't necessarily disciplinary conduct, but in the way Student Affairs professionals use social media.
Agree? Disagree? Want me to go more in depth into a response? Comment below! This is a "chat" after all!
Q1: Does your school have policies dictating appropriate social media use for professional staff? If so, what are they?
For our personal use of our sites, there aren't really any policies regarding out use. If we operate department accounts, there is a whole set of policies and guidelines that we need to read and follow. The 3 "documents" are:
Social Media Policies: click here
University Visual Identity / Branding: click here
Writing Style: click here
Q2: Do you find that these policies make your job more difficult given the expansive use of social media by students? Why?
In all honesty, the only problem (and it is a good problem) is the conversation of student's being in control of the accounts. The policy states that there needs to be at least 2 full time employees on the accounts, but it does not say that student's can't be involved. It just adds to the strategy and guidelines within the department.
Q3: Aside from #SAchat how do you use social media to build your brand as a SA professional?
Since getting involved in #SAchat, you can also find me primarily now with the #SAtech chat on Tuesdays at 1pm EST. I also make appearances on #EMchat, Thursdays at 9pm EST, and #StrategyCar, Fridays at 3pm EST. Honestly, these chats have helped me grow professionally and have connected me to so many different opportunities that I know I wouldn't have had otherwise. My social media is also my way of sharing my content being generated from this site.
Q4: What are differences between students and SA professionals about appropriate interaction with one another via social media?
I am a little confused, so I am going to answer it one way and let you all correct me. The interaction between students and professionals should be "normal". I mean that in the sense that you know your barriers and limits as to what is appropriate. My suggestion is to set the parameters in which students can connect with you and don't go looking to friend them.
Q5: Does being connected with students on social media enhance or limit your online experience?
I know it personally has enhanced my relationships with them. Biggest thing is to be yourself with your one account. Makes life so much easier for you and let's the students that connect with you get to know you more as a person and that translates into great relationships elsewhere.
Photo Credit: Career and Student Employment Services
There is often a discussion as to why students should be engaged on social media. We all know the stats. Almost everyone has a Facebook account. Platforms seem to explode in popularity like Pinterest and Instagram. For the most part, students view this as not only a social atmosphere (as the title social media would suggest), but a very private activity. This comes with a strong sense of irony as it is occurring on the internet.
So knowing that the internet is public, how can we as professionals engage our students in learning how to use social media for a much greater purpose? How can we show that by re-purposing at least one tool, they will be working towards their professional development?
This past March marked the 2nd annual, "Michigan Industry Road Trip." This 5-day program during the student's spring break connects students to companies in the engineering industry. The first time we went on the trip, my colleague and I through the idea of using Twitter out there to those that could. We didn't require anything and didn't do much other than teach the platform to those that wanted to join, but didn't know how. We had some interaction, but nothing measurable.
This year marked a more proactive approach and much more planning went into consideration. My plan was to give the students a sense of purpose. WHY would I want to use Twitter? The short answer was to be able to provide an opportunity to reflect on their experience to help them with the post-trip assessment, the longer answer was much more.
Students in their reflection interacted with the twitter accounts of the companies that we visited. Some of the accounts were given to them, but a great majority were found and shared by the students. These company accounts replied, retweeted, and followed many of the students. The students were now not only connecting with companies in the flesh, but online as well. You can still catch many of the interactions with #MIRoadTrip13
This is just the start of a much larger conversation. We returned from the trip and recently met to reflect. I flat out asked, "What is the benefit of using Twitter?" Many of them recited my original reason, but many defined Twitter for themselves. "It is an opportunity to connect and gather more resources that we couldn't have before." I also followed up with, "So should we stop pursuing this as part of the trip." To which they all said, "NO! But I need to make sure we have wifi constantly available for those without smartphones." To be fair, the biggest limitation to this experience was that our bus did not have wifi.
This post is meant to be a recap on an amazing experience. The students exceed involvement from last year and the quality of post was increased as well. Students reflected, shared photos, and engaged with the companies, all to help develop their professional identity. We concluded the recap session with a lesson on LinkedIn, an addition avenue for developing their professional online identity, and we talked about cleaning up what they thought was their private accounts.
This post is also meant to be a conversation starter on how to have these conversation with students. How else can we engage our students? What programs are you doing to develop student's understanding of their professional online identity? Comment below and thank you for reading!
image credit: http://www.visualstorytelling.com
This past week, I was asked to participate in the creation of a web video series for the graduate college. These videos were to be a series of videos to help prepare graduate students coming to the university. The section I was selected to help out with was a discussion on using social media as a graduate student. The video was a conversation with the VP of Institutional Research, who is also a professor in the school of communication, the Director of Career and Student Employment Services, and myself. We talked about the pros, cons, and just general ideas about using social media as a graduate student. During this conversation, I described social media as a digital cafeteria. Reflecting back, it could not have been the more perfect analogy to describe the world we know as Social Media
Your Table is Your Network
You have the ability to choose whatever table you want to sit at and you get to choose who sit's at the table with you. This is similar to your networks online. Even Twitter has the ability to block an unwanted guest at your table. You have the ability to hop from table to table in the same sense that you can have multiple sites, each containing your network. You can make the table as big or as small as you want.
Your Volume of Voice: Who is truly hearing you?
You have the ability to speak real quiet and to a select few people. You also have the ability to stand up on the table and scream at the top of your lungs. Ultimately, your network is the one that is going to hear you the most and others may listen in, but they are too having their own conversations. In fact, the louder you are, the more people may be annoyed with you, so be careful of how you are saying things.
You Don't Know if the People Walking by are Listening
We take social media for granted. Many of us believe that what we say, even with the safest and strictest settings, is protected from those we don't want to hear. Much like the people that walk by in the cafeteria, you don't know who is ultimately listening to you. They may not be at your table, but they may have a friend in common and magically come across your conversation. All of sudden, you are no longer safe.
What you Say Should be Expected to be Heard by All
It was shared to me that you should be "personally professional" with your social networks. Feel free to be you, but be aware that "private" is not really private. Have a professional sense of self, even if all you are talking about is the Superbowl or the latest episode of Revenge. If a future employer stumble upon your stuff, because you are all a member of the same cafeteria, would you be embarrassed?
What does your table in the digital cafeteria look like? Have you Googled yourself lately? How can you clean your place up so that anyone can sit at your table?
Image credit: http://www.frozzo.com
I created a Twitter account back in 2009. But shortly after creating it, I deleted it because I did not see a point. All of my “followers” were my “friends” on Facebook, so why did I need to hear information twice.
A couple years later, right upon my graduation from WMU, I created my current account @joshkohnert. Again, I did not see much purpose other than to “stalk” celebrities and get breaking news. I still failed to see what all the hype was and only made 10 or so tweets and 5 or 6 followers before I put it again on the back burner for the summer.
This July, I started my current position as a Graduate Assistant for Career and Student Employment Services. My mentor Chris Sell is an avid Twitter user and was able to drop some knowledge. Follow that up with hearing Ed Cabellon speak at a conference, and fire just raged inside full of optimism, motivation, and inspiration. Through actively using Twitter from July to now, I currently have made over 7,100 tweets and have a gathering of followers of 500. I am continually growing as a professional, and it comes from networking.
Twitter, like any social media, is still about building your network. Yes it still has lots of fun, quirky things to do like follow television shows and celebrities. With your network, you have to ask yourself, who do you want in it.
Of course I want my friends to be in it, but I wanted something more. After listening to both Chris and Ed, there is a definite ability to engage with others that share the same interests as you, and the best part is, they can come from all over the world.
I could go on and on about my personal adventure with Twitter, but I want to give some quick tips for using Twitter. These are strictly my own experiences/views and you absolutely have the right to disagree:
1. Don’t have two accounts – the Professional You and the Personal You. This could be an entirely new conversation, but long story short is that a.) To help get to know others, it is helpful to share some about you b.) The things that you feel the need to hide from others in your “personal” account shouldn’t really be on the internet period.
2. Go explore – Use the search option for keywords related to what you want your network to be revolved around. It can be interest based or profession based. By exploring and searching you can come across hashtags to follow and network off of.
3. Get involved in chats on Twitter – It sounds like a ridiculous thing, but by using the hashtag, you can actually have conversations with people. Some groups and organizations schedule times to meet and chat using their hashtag. In Student Affairs, the big conversation is Student Affairs chat on Thursdays from 1pm – 2pm EST using the hashtag #SAchat. That same evening is Enrollment Management Chat from 9pm – 10pm using the hashtag #EMchat. While I converse on both, I am personally more involved with #EMchat. I am a huge fan and take part in the Student Affair Technology chat on Wednesdays from 3:00pm - 3:30pm at #SAtech
4. Follow people and interact with them – Just like networking in real life, sometimes you need to start the conversation.
5. Have Fun – It is a great way to learn more about your profession, share your thoughts, and gain a new perspective on what it means to network with others.
Join Twitter so that you may develop your own network. I can safely say I wouldn't know what I know and be the professional that I am without my network. I have a long list of people I talk with on Twitter that I now want to meet in the physical world. If you need help with Twitter, feel free to comment below. Want to connect? Feel free to follow me and start the conversation!