Help! Where Is My Schools Twitter Feed!?!

Smartphone screen with social media apps.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I want to start by saying that I will be forever grateful to the teachers and support staff at schools that pressed on during the pandemic, both in the classroom and virtually. They, along with our children, had to adapt to all these changes at a lightening pace. There is, however, one area that I think would have improved the overall experience/battle of having to learn from home, both for the children and adults alike. It may come as no surprise that the area for improvement was in social media engagement!

Radio sitting on a table.
Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

RADIO SILENCE…

At my children’s particular school, not one single post or tweet was sent out by the school during the closure… not one. Perhaps a helpful tip or article, a live stream from the Principal, a chat room where parents could go to vent…I mean share what is and is not working… would have been a game changer. It would have changed the game by keeping morale high, celebrating the little victories, having something to look forward to, or having little challenges to get you through the week. The benefits of having a social media presence are discussed in the article How to Make the Most of Social Media During School Closures. This article goes on to say how social media is an underused tool in a schools communication toolbox. As we have all learned by now, social media is a very powerful tool for engaging and informing the masses.

SCHOOL PRIDE

Maybe it is too optimistic to think that schools could pour resources into developing their social media presence, but I think it would do immense good in maintaining and developing school pride. In a regular school year there are spirit days, fundraisers, and special events regularly.  The absence of this engagement and connectivity was noticeable, and it made me realize that this is an area that could be addressed by schools developing a social media strategy.

I focused on the positives of having social media more present in schools, but do you see any negatives to enhancing social media in schools?

Facebook: A Call to Improve Social Media in Schools. https://bit.ly/3AEEI0M

Twitter: Opinion: Schools Need to Tap Into the Power of Social Media. https://bit.ly/3AEEI0M

If You Don’t Have a Selfie Of It, Did It Really Happen?

Person sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

When I first read the article BC Residents Taking More Outdoor Risks for Social Media Glory I had no idea that risky selfie taking behaviours resulted in fatalities and injuries. The article goes on to say that some of the risky behaviour that people engage in are (Pawliw, 2021, para. 10):

  • Getting too close to wildlife
  • Cliff diving
  • Hiking in restricted areas
  • Swimming in restricted areas
  • Staying beyond park or recreation site hours

There have been 259 reported selfie-related deaths between 2011 and 2017 (Hilda, 2019, para. 8). It brings up an interesting question as to what motivates us to take selfies, and why the risk factor is becoming so prominent.

Rookie Mistake or Professional Hazard

The modern day definition of a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” (Bellis, 2020, para. 3). Anyone can, and probably has, taken a selfie. Some of the reasons that we take selfies include (Miles, 2019, para. 17):

  • Communication
  • Build self-esteem
  • Manage self image
  • Preserve memories/accomplishments
  • Develop personal brand

With these motivating factors in mind, it begins to shed some light on why the quest for the perfect selfie is so prevalent. For more high profile social media personalities (aka the professional), they have an image or brand to uphold. If their content is not exciting or aspirational they will not build their reputation. For the average person (aka the rookie), they get validation from the amount of likes and positive feedback they get from posting a great selfie.

When selfies are taken in more dangerous or precarious locations, the photographer is more focused on the shot instead of where their feet are, or how close they might be to the edge of a cliff or waterfall (Miles, 2019, para. 24). Whether you are a professional or an amateur, you are still human and subject to losing perspective of where you stand.

With the ubiquitous nature of social media, it makes it challenging to combat risky selfie behaviour. The desire for the most eye-catching or shocking selfie feeds the human need for “likes”.

The question remains, if you don’t have a selfie of it, did it really happen?

Facebook: One Wrong Foot Could Lead to Selfie Disaster https://bit.ly/3lwCVq4

Twitter: Selfie Deaths are on the Rise https://bit.ly/3lwCVq4

Sources

Bellis, M. (2020, January 3). Do you know who invented the selfie? ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-selfie-1992418

Hilda, A. (2019, August 8). The selfie epidemic: A matter of likes and death. Unreserved. https://www.unreservedmedia.com/the-selfie-epidemic-a-matter-of-likes-and-death/

Miles, K. (2019, April 16). Cause of death: Selfie. Outside. https://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/news-analysis/selfie-deaths/

Pawliw, B. (2021, July 30). BC residents taking more outdoor risks for social media glory. My Prince George Now. https://www.myprincegeorgenow.com/145470/bc-residents-taking-more-outdoor-risks-for-social-media-glory/

Crafting Effective Social Media Posts for People with Disabilities

Picture of Computer Screen that reads "Designers should always keep their users in mind."
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From hashtag etiquette to emoji know-how, there are certain things that we can all be doing to make social media posts more accessible to those with a disability. I became interested in this topic as I have a family member who is visually impaired, and I wondered what would make their experience on social media not only accessible, but enjoyable too. When I began delving into what some suggestions were for making posts and tweets more accessible, I had many “that makes total sense” moments. I feel like the seemingly small changes we can make to our social media posts will make a huge difference for those with a disability.

Hashtags

I have to admit that hastags are not my cup of tea. I have some friends (who shall remain anonymous!) that will write a post and then put 12 hashtags at the end that say seemingly random things (#annoying). If I have the time, energy, and willpower I sometimes try to read these hashtags. I never know when the next word is starting and it is frustrating to me, let alone someone trying to use a screen reader. Welcome CamelCase! CamelCase is where you capitalize the first letter of each word in your hashtag (Thayer, 2020, para. 17). Genius!  The capitalization of each word allows the screen reader to identify when a new word is starting (Bureau of Internet Accessibility, 2019, para. 4).

Here is an example: #summerfuninthesun vs. #SummerFunInTheSun

Next Up…Emoji

Picture of three emoji smiley faces.
Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

The use of emoji can either help or hinder a social media post. The use of emoji can increase the reader’s engagement and interaction with your post, but when used arbitrarily they can be very disruptive (and a nuisance) to someone with a disability (Kim, 2018, para. 22). When a screen reader has to read through a non-stop sting of emoji, or if emoji are placed intermittently in the post, the message you are trying to convey will inevitably get lost (Sehl, 2020, para. 17).

These items might not be groundbreaking changes for those without a disability, but they may mean the difference of a person with a disability engaging (or not) with you or your company. I think that the extra attention to detail is well worth the effort! I think that everyone deserves to have a positive and accessible social media experience.

When looking at social media through the lens of someone with a disability, what would be some of the challenges you see?

Facebook

Crafting Effective Social Media Posts for People with Disabilities. https://bit.ly/3ByMMRK

Twitter

Is Emoji a Friend or Foe to People with Disabilities? https://bit.ly/3ByMMRK

Sources

Sehl, K. (2020, October 15). “Inclusive design for social media: Tips for creating accessible channels”. Hootsuite. https://blog.hootsuite.com/inclusive-design-social-media/

Ives-Rublee, M., & Klein, A. (2019, February 14). “Is your social media accessible to everyone? These 9 best practices can help.” Shondaland. https://www.shondaland.com/act/a26294966/make-your-social-media-more-accessible/

Thayer, T. (2020, December 15).  “6 ways to make your social media posts more accessible”. Flagship Social. https://flagshipsocial.com/blog/6-ways-to-make-your-social-media-posts-more-accessible

Bureau of Internet Accessibility. (2019, February 5). “Make your hashtags accessible”. https://www.boia.org/blog/make-your-hashtags-accessible

Kim, L. (2018, April 11). “The stupid-simple secret ingredient to better engagement on twitter”. WordStream. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/11/19/twitter-emoji

COM0011 Blog #1 – The Twitter Account that stole the Super Bowl Limelight!

Two football teams at the line of scrimmage.
Photo by football wife on Pexels.com

As I am navigating the world of Social Media, specifically Twitter, I have been looking for real life examples of people, businesses and groups who have found their stride when it comes to connecting with people. I had heard about the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) Twitter account after my husband told me about their Super Bowl tweet back in February 2021.  Articles such as the one written for Maclean’s by Shannon Proudfoot, picked up the story due to the popularity of the post and the amount of conversation it facilitated. The post grabbed people’s attention due to the aloofness portrayed by an absent minded employee. As Maclean’s pointed out, people who responded to the tweet fit into one of these 4 categories (Maclean’s para. 3):

  1. Those that thought Bruce was an idiot and should get fired.

2. Those who chalked it up to human error and Bruce should get another chance.

3. Those who laughed at Bruce because he only had one job to do.

4. And those who knew it was a joke right from the beginning.

In the end, the Tweet was viewed by approximately 2.8 million people (Maclean’s para. 3)

What makes the OPH Twitter account so likeable?

With this Super Bowl tweet, OPH was able to re-invigorate their audience. They were able to generate conversation and become more human and approachable. Another element that OPH did well with their Super Bowl tweet, as well as others, is the usage of eye-catching images and graphics. Public Health is an industry that is often times forgotten about until you want to find out the E. coli levels in your local bodies of water, you want to see if your favourite restaurant has failed their health inspection, or you want to get a status update on the ongoing pandemic. They can be viewed as the strict teacher telling us what to do and what not to do. OPH has been able to engage in conversation with their residents. They are able to get their message across by writing in a tone that is honest, authentic, compassionate and human (Maclean’s para. 24).

What about Bruce?

Even though Bruce is a fictional character, he does serve an important function in this story. He gave a name to an otherwise anonymous Twitter account.

I don’t remember who won the Super Bowl, but I do remember Bruce from Ottawa Public Health!

What are some memorable tweets that you have come across?

Facebook : The Twitter Account that stole the Super Bowl Limelight!

Twitter: How Ottawa Public Health Won the Super Bowl!

Sources:

Proudfoot, S. (2021, March 2). “Good job, Bruce: The guy behind North America’s top public health Twitter account”. Maclean’s. https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/good-job-bruce-the-guy-behind-north-americas-top-public-health-twitter-account/