Keeping Connected with Social Networking Sites

In the past I have posted Communication from the Classroom where I discussed the importance of communication from the perspectives of a parent and an educator. I focused on using e-mail, websites and Learning Management tools to keep open the lines of communication. I didn’t touch on social networking sites. I was inspired after reading The Big Trend in Small Social Sites in this week’s Bloomsberg Businessweek, to look at the role of social networking sites to keep connected to relevant topics and resources. The article discusses several smaller social networking sites which lead me to examine some of the sites that I participate in.

I am a long time daily Facebook user. I use this social networking site for personally connecting with friends and family around the world. I also use this site to follow many fan pages related to education such as my children’s school activity pages, the university where I teach, ISTE, Intel® Teach US Program and the Teachers Engage: Intel Teach Program's Community page to name a few that I follow. Overall my participation on this site is quite general- topics and people that I am interested in covering a variety.

I have tried Twitter and although I have many friends who swear by the resources and connections that they make I just don’t have the time to keep up. For me it seems that you need to be constantly “on” in order to find what you are looking for.

Linked-In is a site that I use to keep up my social networking regarding professional opportunities and connections. I visit the site a few times a month just to check in and see if there is anything of interest. Many times my visits are prompted by e-mail updates and then I explore those things relevant.

As I read the article in Business Week I started thinking about all the other social networking sites that target a particular audience. I could see myself joining some of these”boutique” sites but how would I manage my time. How do “followers” choose where to go and how to participate? I realized that one should evaluate the site before jumping in and getting started. The following are questions you might ask yourself before joining a social networking site:

  •  What is the audience of the site?

  • What percentage of content is advertisement?

  • What is my purpose for joining? 

    • Sharing information?
    •  Gathering information?
  •  How many members are active in this site?

  •  Is this the best site for the purpose I plan on joining?

I don’t think that one social networking site is for everyone, but I do think that if we thought about our time and our communication before joining it would be more beneficial to all.

I encourage you to share your favorite social networking sites and tips that you have on managing your time while engage with others.

In August 2017, Julia Fischer joined our extended network of alumni.