Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

An Introduction to Using Social Media Effectively
Originally published in the summer 2011 edition of The Leader

Social media can be an effective tool for school administrators and local union leaders when used correctly. Union leaders can use social media to activate and increase membership, while school administrators, with permission from their schools, can use social media to positively promote their school or other organizations. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are three popular social media sites that could be advantageous for schools and union leaders.

Facebook, a social networking site with more than 600 million users, allows users to create their own profile with the ability to add photos, find friends and send out messages to their connections. As a school or union leader, is it important to understand the difference between creating a profile and a page. A profile has a limit on the number of friends one can have and a user has to be invited to be able to see and interact with the profile. A page, however, has no limit on the number of “fans” it can have, and is more widely accessible than a profile because anyone can click the “Like” button to have access to the information on the page.

A Facebook page allows the user to control the settings when needed. For example, a user can change the settings for the page so that profane words are blocked. Being aware of this and other settings allows for a school or local union’s Facebook page to be clean and appropriate for everyone.

Facebook allows for users of both profiles and pages to create statuses or posts. These are updates on what a person or organization is doing. It can be as simple as “We’re organizing a rally tomorrow” or “Smith Elementary School is having its choir concert tonight at 7 p.m.” The benefit of a post is that everyone who is a fan of the organization’s Facebook page will see that post on his or her home page. This allows for greater visibility and publicity for the organization, whether it is a school or a local union.

A feature to utilize on Facebook is the “Event” tab. Any type of happening can be marked as an “event,” and from there people can see and RSVP to the event. Using events regularly leads to more publicity and visibility for the school or local union. There are many other ways Facebook can be utilized to increase communication and interest in a school or organization, but posting statuses regularly and creating events are the easiest ways to engage others. Be sure to check out AFSA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AFSAUnion.

Twitter is an online microblogging and social networking site that allows users to send “tweets” of 140 characters or less. Tweeting is simple; a user creates a basic profile with a username and password, picks a Twitter name, and then types up whatever he or she wants to say. The best way to avoid trouble and scandal on Twitter is to not send suggestive, controversial or defamatory tweets. Twitter can be a serious asset to a local union or school in helping to spread information quickly to a large audience.

If a school were to use Twitter, a school leader could tweet about a student or club’s achievement, an announcement about an upcoming event or a news article about the school. A local union also could tweet about union events or about relevant news stories. Twitter is a fast and easy way to connect people to an organization, and for an example of a Twitter page, visit AFSA’s at www.twitter.com/AFSAUnion.

YouTube is a video-sharing social media site that allows users to upload and search videos. When used in education, for example, school leaders could put videos of school-related events on YouTube. A great way for other people to see the videos is to use tags. Tags are words or phrases that can be paired with the video. For instance, if someone types “education” into the search field on YouTube, he or she will see all videos tagged with education. This makes it much easier to find videos on YouTube.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be powerful organizing and communication tools for unions and school leaders and provide a great way for members to stay abreast of all of the issues being debated.