“You should be on Twitter”

Hi – I’m Chandler. And if you did not already know, I’m an enthusiastic fan of Twitter!

Twitter bio for Chandler Thompson

I love Twitter for many reasons. Twitter is part of my personal learning network, has connected me to wonderful people, fuels my relentless enthusiasm for Wolfpack sports, and has provided me incredible opportunities related to my professional career! When I was a student leader at NC State I felt the need to beg other people to join me on Twitter. I prodded and begged friends (successfully and unsuccessfully), NC State’s Chancellor Randy Woodson (unsuccessfully), and many other people to sign up for accounts. Twitter was so great for me, I wanted it to be great for other people!

Since then, I have a new philosophy for promoting Twitter. I still speak positively about Twitter usage and recommend that people join, but I no longer relentlessly campaign for their participation. Twitter is best when someone joins excitedly and willingly.

Yes, I think senior student affairs officers and higher education professionals should be on Twitter. Twitter allows leaders to connect with their followers in ways that other mediums do not. Twitter gives everyone the tool to be a leader! Twitter provides realtime updates and is an incredible way to follow a live event. Twitter also allows professionals in higher education insight into lives of students and campus culture. You might even be more competitive in the job market if you are familiar with Twitter and other social networking sites.

The desire to be on Twitter and use Twitter as an administrator ultimately needs to come from within. If YOU want to be on Twitter, I want you to be on Twitter. You will not enjoy it or use it as much if I force you to make an account. :) When you do decide to explore Twitter, I am happy to support and be good company for the journey.

My new philosophy with colleagues and friends is to respect decisions about use of social media. If Twitter works for you or you want to make Twitter work for you that’s great! Let’s talk about it. It is also okay if Twitter is not the social site for you. My opinion and strategies for inviting others to join Twitter have changed over time although I still believe it is a very positive tool that can improve your personal and professional life. If you want a reason to join Twitter, many students are on Twitter and enjoy engaging with university leaders on the site as well!

Do you think senior student affairs officers should be on Twitter? Do you encourage Twitter use among friends and coworkers? What approaches do you use?

What is so great about Twitter?

I still meet a lot of people that do not use Twitter or do not understand why I like Twitter so much. Friends or colleagues that take a chance on Twitter either try it and love it or try it and do not understand why others find it so useful.

Twitter gets categorized with Facebook, Instagram, and other sites as a social networking sites. But social networking is not the most prominent feature of Twitter. Twitter is an information network (that allows for social interaction). It is important to accurately explain the site when recruiting new users. If you prefer the social aspects of Facebook (like my professor, Dr. Dean) you will quickly learn that Twitter is a very different type of site.

Why did Twitter catch on from the start for me? I predict it is because I joined Twitter in April  2009 and followed a large number of accounts tweeting about NC State. I can not remember why I decided to join Twitter but I’m sure it had something to do with the NC State community. For example, my first tweet:

If you decide to join Twitter, the most important thing you can do is find and follow accounts tweeting about your interests. “You don’t have to tweet to get value from Twitter” – Twitter states this directly on their about page and that is completely true. Sign up for a Twitter account to gain information even if you are not interested in tweeting.

Learner is my number one theme on the StrengthsQuest assessment.  I love learning; I like to be knowledgable about everything going on (which is good and bad at times) and I like that I’ve created a network for learning on Twitter. I hope this post will encourage you to try out Twitter and follow a community that interests you. Now that I’m in graduate school, I still follow NC State accounts but also student affairs and higher ed accounts. I also follow people and organizations that tweet about running. Another way to find your community on Twitter is to follow and search specific hashtags, such as #sachat

At first I did not know if this post was a relevant blog topic (Twitter was created in 2006), but I decided to write it because I still know people hesitant (or scared) to try Twitter. Let’s get connected – @ChandElaine on Twitter

Join our class discussions – on Twitter!

A few of my professors this semester decided to incorporate Twitter into their course design. I am excited about engaging with my cohort and faculty via a “new” (to our classroom) communication tool. I believe Twitter is an effective tool to encourage and facilitate faculty-student and student-student contact. Rey Junco’s research found that “Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help engage students and to mobilize faculty into a more active and participatory role.” Twitter use is optional for one class but required for another. Here’s a brief overview of what we are doing so you can follow along if you are interested in our class discussions:

#ECHD7430
Dr. Linder and Phil Badaszweski included a class hashtag on our syllabus for Campus Ecology. Dr. Linder explained how she uses Twitter and informed us that they would share relevant tweets for the course via this hashtag. They also invited us to tweet relevant information with the hashtag.

#UGACSAAMP
Another class my cohort is enrolled in this semester is ECHD 7060 – Dimensions of Multicultural Practice in Student Affairs. Dr. Maddox and Ms. Hamilton created two subsections of participation and engagement requirements for the class. 1a is “Trending Social Justice” and 1b is a more traditional class participation format, In-Class Writing assignments. The Twitter hashtag for this course was created to provide a forum to engage our class but also our followers in discussions on social justice. A handout was provided with seven guidelines including: “tweet every week, minimum”, “find and follow people” and “make an effort to reply to the instructors and to other students to keep the conversations going.”

twitter-101One of the interesting aspects of the trending social justice assignment is that Dr. Maddox created her Twitter account the night before our first class, and is openly experimenting with a new communication tool at the same time it is a class requirement. How fun!

Is one of your student affairs graduate classes using a hashtag this semester? If so, please share it in the comments!  What do you think about tweets being a required part of class participation? Check out this infographic (posted on the right) for a visual representation of best practices in using Twitter in the classroom. I hope you’ll join in our conversations about campus ecology and multicultural practices if something interests you.

Twitter and Orientation

One of the first things I did after starting my NODA internship was volunteer to help with social media in the office. Managing social media accounts and engaging with students online is something I love to do, and I try to create these opportunities (and be helpful) whenever I can!

YFY

This year, instead of creating a Facebook page and Twitter account for SOAR 2013, the office used the @UNCGYFY or Your First Year accounts.

We enhanced our tweets about SOAR with a hashtag. Find out what hashtag your students are using. Our office decided to use #UNCG17 for our tweets about SOAR. We answered questions that students were asking about SOAR via that hashtag. Don’t overload or spam a hashtag, but if the content is relevant for a specific hashtag definitely use it.

At the beginning of the June sessions we added a picture taking opportunity to the first small group script. At the end of the small group the SOS (Spartan Orientation Staff member) would take their group somewhere nearby for pictures. Students were very creative and we were able to retweet the picture (whether it came from an SOS or a new student). This activity allowed us to share SOAR content with the Twitter community and create a lasting photo memory for these students from SOAR. I wish I had a picture from my Orientation session in 2008!

The social media chair (a returner SOS) organized a Twitter competition each session. He asked the students to follow us and tweet their best picture to our account, and they awarded a gift certificate to the student with the winning picture at the evening session.

Lastly, some numbers to be proud of:
On May 13 the UNCGYFY Twitter account had 202 followers.
On July 10, after 8 SOAR Sessions during the month of June, the account has 506 followers!

I enjoy following my alma mater @NCSUOrientation and their summer orientation activities on Twitter. All of their OL’s have a Twitter account and the content is super fun! What are some useful ways to use Twitter with summer orientation? I’m starting a Twitter list here – what accounts do you recommend?