A little help from my friends

Social media is a great tool for making news go viral. But what if you need that to happen overnight?

Recently my ever-spontaneous superintendent decided –- at the 11th hour — to craft an op-ed piece advocating for more school funding. He wanted his message to go out statewide immediately, making a big splash in the last two weeks of our state’s legislative session.

First, I anchored the op-ed to our district website and sent it to the daily newspaper at the state capital. Then I called on a few friends!

Here are some partners who helped make the message go viral by sharing my post on Facebook, Twitter and key organization websites:
• The state NSPRA chapter (Thanks, OSPRA!)
• The state school boards association
• The state teachers’ union
• State PTA leaders
• Friends who are school advocates
• The state school business professionals association
• The state classified union
• School advocacy groups

For maximum effectiveness, include one or two photos to accompany the message, and send your partners a list of suggested hashtags appropriate to your target audiences.

How well did it work? Over the course of a week, the piece did go viral for over a week! All thanks to a little help from my friends. The next time they call me for help, I owe them big time.

Connect With Colleagues on #K12PRchat

teachers-noncertIf you aren’t personally on Twitter, you most certainly have colleagues in your district who use it for professional development. From renowned authors and speakers to fellow teachers and administrators, Twitter offers educators unprecedented access to a dynamic professional development network.

In fact, a Twitter executive reported last year that, of the half billion tweets that post each day, 4.2 million are related to education.

And while school communicators have been connecting individually on Twitter for some time, a new Twitter chat offers targeted professional development and networking, from the convenience of a computer, smartphone or tablet. Every other Tuesday evening, #K12PRchat will bring together school communicators from across North America for one hour to share and learn.

If you’re new to Twitter chats or Twitter in general, this is a perfect chance to get your feet wet. A Twitter chat is a group conversation that is designated by a unique hashtag — in this case, #K12PRchat. Moderators ask questions, and participants tweet answers to those questions, using the hashtag. Click here for more background on Twitter chats and great tips to get the most out of the conversation.

The value of a Twitter chat is clear: The first #K12PRchat took place on Tuesday, and you can view all the tweets with the hashtag here. You don’t even need a Twitter account to read the encouragement and great content that your colleagues are sharing. (You do need an account to participate in the discussion.)

Make plans now to join or watch the next #K12PRchat, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Future chats will take place at the same time, every other Tuesday. Take this chance to engage and share — your professional learning has never been more accessible!


Expand Your Text and Free Your Mind


Other contributors to this blog have covered different tools that are available to help manage the social media workload: monitoring apps, scheduling apps, grammar-checking apps and on and on. No doubt, there wouldn’t be nearly as much content being generated and shared if all the work had to be done manually.

Well, here’s another addition to the tip jar . . . text expansion.

Text expansion tools are plug-ins and built-in utilities that save you the time and hassle of typing the same letters over and over. In my case, I probably use my district’s name, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, at least a dozen times a day. But, I rarely enter that phrase by keying it in completely.

When I’m creating a document in Word, the software automatically kicks in after four letters (F-r-a-n) and prompts me to “Press ENTER to Insert” the complete phrase. That’s because I use AutoComplete to help out with that repetitive task. There’s a good tutorial on how to set up AutoComplete for Word on the eHow site.

That’s great if you spend all of your day in Word. What’s even better, though, is having the ability to use text expansion across all of your work. An example is the built-in text expansion possibilities offered by Apple for OS X and iOS devices. You can set up the Keyboard Shortcuts utility to be synced across iCloud such that all of your text expansion shortcuts are available to you whether you’re working at your desk, on your iPad or on your iPhone. Then, whether you’re creating a document, texting or filling out a form, text expansion is at your beck and call.

If you’re in the Windows world, there are many options available (both free and paid). Here are just a few that you can look into:

  • PhraseExpress
  • Texter
  • Breevy

If you have other text expansion tips, be sure to comment on those and share your experiences.

photo credit: monique’s typewriter via photopin (license)