If no one is looking at your Twitter account, it could be for a couple of reasons.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 12.26.00 PMMost organizations or schools feel that jumping on the social media bandwagon is something that they should do because it is becoming the norm for others.  If you think that Twitter is just about tweeting, you are missing a huge cultural shift that is happening.

Too many people use Twitter as a “one-way” communication.  They simply use it to deliver messages with no engagement at all.  This might work if you are a huge celebrity, otherwise you are spending time doing something that is really going to do nothing but take up your time.  If you are just sending information out, with no interaction, you are becoming the new “spam”.

Communication is key with organizations, but the huge cultural shift is that people do not want to just hear, they also want to be heard.  You might have a lot of followers on your account, but that does not mean people are engaged in what you are doing.

For example, @AirCanada used to be a horrible Twitter account.  It was used to share deals and tell about how awesome they were.  If anything, their presence and lack of true communication did more harm than good.  People wonder why would organization be in a space that is about back-and-forth communication, but only talk, and not listen?  Now, the account is doing an amazing job to connect with customers when they have concerns or problems.  I would never use email with Air Canada as I know their Twitter account is much more effective and faster.  They have to be, because the whole world can see their reaction (or lack thereof).

What is also important is heart.  Creating an emotional connection through a social media account is an art form and the Edmonton Humane Society does this beautifully.  It is not that hard to make people feel something when you are sharing puppies, but not everyone understands how to do it.  They share amazing stuff on their Facebook page, and often connect with people sharing it.  They have taken an organization and made it “human”.

To sum it up, if you want people to not just “follow” your school or business, you can’t just share.  You need to listen and engage, while also connecting and tapping into the humanness of people.

It is not just about “tweeting”.  There is a major shift that has happened in our world because of these different ways we can communicate.  Are you really paying attention?


  1. Alicia Duell said:

    Hi George,
    I have been reading your blog and following you on Twitter for a few years. I have been struggling with my feelings about Twitter lately and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how Twitter can seem, for those of us who are not “Twitter famous”, like a hard-to-crack clique. I have been active on Twitter for almost 2 years, and have made a concerted effort over the past year or so to truly participate. I share things I create (YouTube tutorials, an online PD program I facilitate, etc.), I respond to people’s questions and comments, I make my own statements, share articles and resources, etc. I know the ins-and-outs of how to engage on Twitter, partly because I have followed people like you who definitely have “cracked the Twitter code.” I am so excited to connect with people, be part of conversations, and to truly leverage the amazing PLN that Twitter represents, but sometimes I wonder, “Why bother?” I hesitated to even write this comment, but I spend a lot of time talking Twitter up to other educators, and describe how it’s a great conversation, but is that even true? The most frustrating thing is when someone, especially someone who is well-known in the educational Twitter sphere, asks a question, but doesn’t acknowledge when they receive an answer. I recently responded, in the course of about 30 min., to two questions/requests that someone posted on Twitter last week. They didn’t respond in any way. Yes, my feelings were a little hurt, but more than anything it seemed to go against what I understand about Twitter– that people can share with each other, and become an active part of the community by reaching out and helping and sharing with one another, but it has to go both ways. I think that, for Twitter to really work, people have to be willing to go beyond their bubble and respond/connect to us “unknowns” 🙂 as well. As you observe in your post, “Too many people use Twitter as a ‘one-way’ communication. They simply use it to deliver messages with no engagement at all. This might work if you are a huge celebrity, otherwise you are spending time doing something that is really going to do nothing but take up your time. If you are just sending information out, with no interaction, you are becoming the new ‘spam’.” My $.02. Thanks for listening!

    May 27, 2014
    • Hey Alicia,

      Great comments and I really see your point. When I first started tweeting, and someone would share my blog post, I would thank every single person. With a few hundred followers it was easier. Now that I am in the 50k range, it is so much harder to keep up. This is not about bragging, but reality and one of the downfalls of actually creating a large network. So sometimes you have to make decisions because in reality, no one MAKES you do Twitter, but I do have to answer my email, especially when it comes from my own school district. I guess what I think is important is that every person has to do what works for them, and then understand that is what others do as well. If you tweet twice a day, are you less than someone who tweets 20 times a day? Nope.

      I have no idea what goes on in most people’s personal lives as most don’t know mine. One of the decisions that I have made is to actually tweet less, and connect in person more. I always try to help anyone that asks for help. If I tweet out a question and I get the answer, I sometimes say thank you but it is rare. Yet if someone asks for help or a connection to help their students, I am more than likely to jump in. I think the larger the network, the more we have to choose what we do and what works for us as individuals, hence the “personal” in PLN. I am trying to go only from my perspective, but I agree with you, that it is a downfall of Twitter when the size of a network sometimes does make it harder to connect in some ways.

      Thank you so much for your comments…really great points 🙂

      May 27, 2014
      • Alicia Duell said:

        Thanks George. I hear what you’re saying, and appreciate you sharing your thoughts. 🙂

        May 28, 2014
  2. Sara Carter said:

    DO not get me started on this.
    This is nothing but the old guard at work, moving through the same old steps they have for decades and exclaiming “We have a Twitter! We are tech savvy. We are a 21st Century School blah, blah, blah…”
    But you nailed it. Cultural shift.
    Last week, as my head of school addressed rumors, he derisively said, “The reporter heard it …on t w i t t e r” as his eyes rolled. (Trying to convey his disgust at the fact that a reporter had used Twitter as a source.)
    Sadly, the parents gave a collective sound of empathy.
    Twitter, indeed.
    Had the school been listening to its community, (it is following all of 5 people, I think) it might have used Twitter to quell rumor; to set the record straight and to reiterate the facts in the matter. And amazingly, the reporter would probably have picked up on that and never questioned the situation.
    But this won’t change a traditional (if now archaic) machine. It won’t change the thinking within.
    So, let’s get back to using Twitter for the announcements…

    May 27, 2014
  3. George: Great insight into an often overlooked topic. The shifts in culture, climate and communication, within school communities, is not only overlooked, but happening at the same pace as technological changes. A simple ‘thank you’ to positive comments on a school’s Facebook page or even a ‘favorite’ on Twitter can make an individual feel like a valued contributor of the school community. Knowing that someone on the other end values their input and positive contributions is invaluable.

    On a personal level a part of me has wanted to build deeper relationships with members of my PLN, while also allowing that same PLN the opportunity to grow. In an effort to accomplish this I tried to recognize the shifts in communication that were necessary to make this happen. So I created a new blog called the Education unBlog (http://educationunblog.blogspot.com/). While it has been slow to gain momentum over the past month the idea is for others to contribute to the initial posts that were generated by me. I end every post with ‘Collaboration is after all the purpose of the Education unBlog!’ Overall, I realize that for most people time is of the essence, as they balance work, family and their own blogs/social media, but I hope that people begin to recognize the importance of two-way communication and how valued and desired their input is, whether it is reflected through this blog or other forms of social media such as Twitter.

    May 27, 2014
  4. Irene Anderson said:

    Hi George,
    I am a novice in this space but value your comments and those of the other respondents here.
    Thank you fall for your insights. I will endeavour to make more of an effort than I have been to actually engage.

    June 4, 2014

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