Amanda wanted to reach her students on social media, because that’s where they are. Actually, that’s where Amanda, like a lot of academics, constantly is too. Even academics who don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook are on their devices reading the latest news from their field, following links from colleagues, or finding interesting tidbits that help illustrate content to students in their subjects.
Amanda’s problem: in addition to sharing news with her students, she also wanted to put information on UTSOnline. In her own words, Amanda was ‘too busy and too lazy to go into UTSOnline just to post an announcement.’ (Note: as well as teaching and researching in the UTS Business School, Amanda has two young children as well as a Youtube channel – lazy probably isn’t how other people would describe her!)
Amanda’s time-saving secret: she uses Hootsuite to send news and announcements to students on Twitter and Facebook, and has a Twitter feed embedded in UTSOnline under the ‘Announcements’ section. This reaches students in three places that her students are most likely to see it. Amanda uses her normal Twitter account but adds a dedicated hashtag – #utsaudit – for Tweets she wants her students in that subject to see.
Advantages of Amanda’s approach
- Amanda’s students don’t need to be on Twitter – and many students, particularly international students aren’t – to see the posts.
- For equity reasons, it’s important that all information relating to a subject is made available to students via UTSOnline. Amanda’s approach combines the best of both worlds – curating nuggets and gems on Twitter, but also making sure they’re instantly available to all via UTSOnline.
- Amanda has a dedicated Facebook page (separate from her work and personal profiles) so that she doesn’t need to ‘friend’ her students for them to see the information on Facebook.
- Twitter picks up pictures now when you Tweet a link from a news article! Students, being human, are much more likely to look at a news item with an image.
Watch Amanda explain her ‘Hootsuite Hack’
Keys to success:
- Choose a hashtag specific to your subject to reduce the risk of it getting hijacked. Your hash could be your subject name and session, or it could reference something that is specific to your discipline area or industry. (For the record, although theoretically anyone with a Twitter account can tweet to #utsaudit, Amanda says she’s never experienced any problems).
- Use ‘safe search’ mode in Twitter, or control the feed you display to show only show a particular account (ie yours). This will minimise the risk of anything dodgy showing up.
- Amanda’s approach relies on being relaxed about sharing content and updates from your subject with the world.
- Be careful of posting links to content behind paywalls – the AFR and the Australian are common traps for young players.
- Amanda uses Hootsuite – a free social media management tool that allows you to post across multiple platforms at once – to post her messages. With Hootsuite you can auto-schedule an announcement in advance – great if you’re going away to a conference – or you can time announcements to go out during certain weeks of the session.
- Amanda finds Twitter works best mainly for one-way communication with her students: pushing out information, curating links and sharing re-tweets. She also pushes #utsaudit out to Facebook, which she finds is more likely to garner interaction from students.