7 Social Media Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Learn Today and Teach Tomorrow

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In a world ruled by content curation, every educator should be passing along social media strategies to students. The “That’s a parent’s job” mantra is not a sufficient excuse for ignoring your responsibility here. We’re in this together.

Students must be taught early and often how to create, locate, maintain and share content. And they need to understand the ramifications of everything they do on social media.

7 Social Media Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Learn Today

1 – Think before you share

Social media can be intoxicating. You’ve seen the research about kids being engaged 7-10 hours daily and some adults being unable to function in normal daily life, because they can’t leave social media. It’s so easy to share pictures, graphics, links to content, along with comments and less-than-a-second likes and retweets (see number 4). We must teach kids to fight the urge to share absent-mindedly. Facebook and Twitter make this extremely easy. Teach students this simple strategy: Read, Reflect, Decide. This process takes 30-60 seconds and it can make a difference in so many lives. Just read your content carefully; reflect on what it means to share it; then, decide if it should be shared. Remind kids that sometimes they should decide to Not share or interact with content. Discuss what makes content shareable and, more important, if anyone be hurt by your actions.

2 – Never respond in anger

Think for a moment about something you’ve seen recently on a social network that made your blood boil. The share incited you more than anything you can remember. You flinched, frowned and your fingers tingled, because you couldn’t start typing fast enough. Hopefully, in this case, you used the Read, Reflect, Decide strategy and didn’t post in anger. If something your see on a social network upsets you, it’s best to walk away. If you feel you must respond, do it privately and politely.

3 – Understand the longterm impact of your social shares

Yes, one bad tweet, like or share of content on a social network can hurt you for many years–in some cases forever. College admissions deans and HR directors are watching. Many people have lost jobs because of one thoughtless share or comment on a social network. Is your future worth that five-seconds it took to post something thoughtless, and likely meaningless, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? There’s a recurring theme here: Read, Reflect, Decide. This habit will serve you well.

4 – Ask, “Why am I liking or retweeting this?”

The Facebook like and Twitter retweet are simple, fun ways to join a conversation on a social network. But when they are used without forethought, they are two of the most dangerous tools on the Internet. People are so quick to like or retweet something, because they don’t have to create new content or comment; they can interact with content and, perhaps, show support of a friend in less than a second. While saving time in our hectic social media lives is important, a simple like or retweet can be as damaging as an expletive-laced personal post.

Teach students to consider what their like or retweet means. It’s basically an endorsement of content. Liking a friends post about abortion or antiwar protests may feel like a simple nod to the friend. Meanwhile, it can be devastating to other friends or even family members who have different beliefs. It’s okay to have an opinion, but it doesn’t have to be shared with the world, and there are times it’s best to simply say No to the like or retweet and move on.

5 – Avoid confrontation

How many times have you wanted to question someone’s intelligence or win a battle of sarcasm in a Facebook or Twitter chat? Consider how often this happens with kids who tend to have a much smaller filter than adults. Guy Kawasaki, one of the world’s leading social media experts, says to stop at two replies to any heated discussion. Anything beyond two will most likely be negative and potentially harmful. Plus, many people join conversations late, so they may have missed the context. They see something you said that seems snarky and they don’t consider the other person. It’s you or your student who looks bad.

6 – Try for the Warm & Fuzzy award

There are many amazing educators with powerful social media strategies. Some are so good that they don’t seem to have a strategy at all. What makes these people great is they make you feel warm and fuzzy. They share powerful, insightful, delightfully humorous content and their comments are always positive. When you see their names, you automatically feel warm and fuzzy and want to share their stuff.

This strategy is astonishingly simple: Always be positive and leave a good impression. If you disagree with something someone says, you don’t have to interact. If someone posts something negative on your timeline or feed, you can ignore it or simply say, “Thanks for reading.” There’s nothing more powerful than taking the high road on social media. People will love you and you’ll never make an enemy.

7 – Change the world

Sounds idealistic, huh? Maybe, but if our kids share a steady stream of intelligent and entertaining content, imagine what a beautiful thing social media would become. Your shares just might change the world.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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