Reflections

Why I Use Twitter. Hint…It’s Not Self-Promotion

I’ve been thinking about this question lately: Do I use Twitter for self-promotion? I will often share the work I am doing with colleagues throughout my district and beyond. Is this self-promotion? I think it comes down to the intention behind the tweet. If the intention is always “Hey world! Look at me!”, then I get it. Oversharing what you’re doing, and never shifting the focus to the work and ideas of others, is annoying to followers and verges on narcissism.

Personally, it is rarely my intention to cast the spotlight on myself. Note my use of the word rarely. I firmly believe that the occasional tweet intended to self-promote, is completely appropriate. Obviously, I want people to read this post, that’s why I blog, so I’m going to tweet about it. Is this self-promotion? Sure. Should I feel guilty? Absolutely not. Why wouldn’t I utilize the most effective method I have to reach others? I want people to read what I write, so I’m going to leverage technology to promote my thoughts and ideas in hopes that sharing will have a positive impact on readers, or at the very least, start a dialogue.

Although I am suggesting that a small degree of self-promotion is appropriate, these types of tweets represent a very small percentage of what I share. What I choose to share on social media is almost always guided by inclusivity, not self-indulgence. I don’t want to draw attention to me; I want to draw attention to the work of others, or inject my own thoughts and ideas to promote conversation. My intention is always to have a positive impact on teachers and students, and to grow capacity.

Occasionally, I also hear others say that teachers only use Twitter to look good for administration. Again, for the most part, this isn’t at all accurate. I believe that critics tend to be overly dismissive because it’s easier, rather than to step out of comfort zones. Transparency is difficult. Working within the confines of your classroom is much easier. Critics may also not see the point in sharing what they do. I find this reluctance is often the product of the mindset that they don’t have anything worthwhile to share, but often the act of sharing will be meant with unexpected consequences stemming from a community populated with well-intentioned teachers.

Thanks for reading. I’m going to tweet this now. 🙂

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11 comments on “Why I Use Twitter. Hint…It’s Not Self-Promotion

  1. Sarah Sanders

    Thanks for putting this out there David – I often think of this as well and at times the perception of others prevents me from sharing the work I do with teachers. My goals are also rarely for self promotion, but to feature the good work and products if collaboration – To show others what is possible and to feature the learning of the teachers I support. Ultimately we grow as educators when we step outside our confort zones – sometimes that is hard to do without the support of others. I am ever grateful for my PLN, their diverse thinking, their ability to support while pushing my practice forward. Without connecting and sharing our work none of that would be possible.

  2. Interesting post, David. I’ve just tagged it for next week for This Week in Ontario Edublogs. How’s that for self-promotion?

    Actually, I may respond with a post of my own after I think it through.

    But let me push back on a couple of things – not in a intended mean-spirited manner but just a couple of thoughts that come to mind.

    The fact that you wrote this post at all makes me wonder a couple of things.

    1) Have you been called out for doing this from someone else? Or, are you having second thoughts about what it is that you share?
    2) The tone of your post implies, at least to me, that self-promotion is a bad thing. Is it? Or, is it a modern means to an end. BT, (Before Twitter), how would someone promote themselves or their cause?

    Don’t we all analyze our actions periodically? Is that what’s behind this post? Isn’t that a good thing and a reminder for all of us?

    On a personal note, I am one of those who are easily turned off the overly blatant self-promoters. But then, I stopped to wonder. You posted an announcement about this post on Twitter and tagged me. Was that not a call to action for me? Similarly, when I write a blog post, I have WordPress send a notification to Twitter that I’ve done something new. Where is the line between “self-promotion” and “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around, it did make a sound?” The blogging equivalent would be “if I write a post and don’t let people know about it, does it exist?”

    I think back to the things that you share on Twitter. From my perspective, it’s to share your learning with others and/or to promote things that are happening in Thames Valley. To quote advice given to me by my father, “you look good when you make others look better”. I’ve always thought that your online presence looks good.

    I do like your take on the critics. It would be interesting to see where they’re coming from and look at what they’re doing. In my opinion, social media is developing and we’re all fumbling around trying to get a handle on it. We’ll make mistakes; we’ll have successes.

    The over promoters, to me, are easily ignored. If only all people would do so. Maybe it would result in a better community in which to learn and we wouldn’t have to have these conversations.

    • Hi Doug!

      Thank you for reading my post and sharing it on This Week in Ontario Blogs.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to reflect on my words. Like I said in my post, I share to Twitter because it can start conversations that help us reflect a little deeper about our words and what we share.

      Let me respond to your wonderings…

      I have been called out before, but it rarely happens. This post was more of a response from general comments that I occasionally hear from others, not directed towards me. I don’t often second guess what I share because my intention is usually to elevate others and promote what I see as beneficial to students and teachers. Not all may agree with what I share, but my intentions are coming from a good place.

      I’m a little surprised to read that you thought my post conveyed the notion that self-promotion is a bad thing. It isn’t. Like I mentioned, I tweeted about this post so it could reach a wider audience. I don’t think this is a bad thing. I want people to read what I write, so why wouldn’t I use Twitter. Also, I knew that it may help frame the thinking of others and even equip them with a small amount of resilience if challenged. (See Sarah’s comment.) To this end, I tagged you. Yes, this is self-promotion, but again, I think it comes down to intentions.

      After all of this has been said, I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with publicly celebrating the occasional personal or professional achievement. It’s OK to toot your own horn every once in awhile as long as it is not frequent and blatant. This doesn’t contribute to anyone’s growth. 😀

      Cheers, David

  3. My conclusion about the “bad thing” was derived from this sentence. “Oversharing what you’re doing, and never shifting the focus to the work and ideas of others, is annoying to followers and verges on narcissism.”

    I think that, if we were sitting together enjoying the same sort of beverage, we’d find that we were agreeing with each other.

    As I was reading your post, I was envisioning a continuum of promotion going from “frequent and blatant” to whatever would be on the other end. As you traverse that continuum, there would be that fine line. I think that most conscientious people wonder where that fine line is. i.e. how much is OK versus how much is too much.

    I think it would make for a fascinating panel discussion.

    Skol

  4. Agreed! That would be a great panel discussion.

  5. Pingback: About self-promotion – doug — off the record

  6. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs – doug — off the record

  7. Pingback: About self-promotion | voicEd.ca

  8. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs | voicEd.ca

  9. David – I came to your post through @DougPete’s weekly roundup.I enjoyed reading your thinking as there can be a bit of a sneer when some talk about Twitter. I personally love reading about what others are up to in their districts and within my own.

    Perhaps sometimes others see Twitter as self promotion when some tweets about something that others have personal knowledge of, and know that person did not play the role they are presenting on Twitter. But, that can happen in any medium, whether social media or not.

    Thanks again for posting!

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