Driving home from school this afternoon, I was listening to NPR and heard the story of how JP Morgan Bank tried to use Twitter to have a conversation with college students about the company. Apparently, it backfired. After being taunted and teased, the company canceled the chat and retreated.
I started thinking about this amazing book I read last spring "The Librarian's Nitty Gritty Guide to Social Media" by Laura Solomon. It is a comprehensive discussion on using social media to promote the library. One of the biggest points Solomon makes is that the social media promotion tool isn't something you just do. Creating a social media presence takes some planning, care, and direction. It also takes time to develop some credibility with the people you are trying to reach. Something, JP Morgan apparently didn't know. It takes time to listen and create a rapport with the very people you might need later. Solomon's advice certainly applies to schools, as well.
So many of our Nebraska school districts are using Twitter to brand themselves and celebrate the wonderful learning opportunities taking place everyday. In addition, the educator's using Twitter serve as models of digital citizenship to our students and their parents. Anything that tells our story in a positive and constructive light is a good thing. And when it's time to draw support from those stakeholders watching the sports scores tweeted out on Friday nights or checking to see what the kids are doing in the library this week, we have a base of people who follow what we do with no doubt we put kids first.
So what can schools learn from the JP Morgan Twitter Debacle? If you want to use Twitter as means of promoting your school and drawing support from your stakeholders, start when you don't need anything. Tell your story and share your victories before you ask for help digging out of a hole. #justsayin