Don’t Use a 2.0 Technology in a 1.0 Way

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jurvetson

“And that’s the grand dilemma of social networking: it’s intended to allow participation, to let companies and individuals all engage and interact, but all too many are one way channels, broadcast media where responses or engagement is ignored completely.” — Dave Taylor

Many organizations or schools are starting to get on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon and seeing the importance of having a presence on the largest social networks. Yet, there is much more to Twitter than having an account, and unless you are Justin Bieber, you have to change your mindset to make meaningful use of social media.

The old-school philosophy of communication lent itself to making a fancy website so that you had a nice Web presence. Not only could you look flashy on the Internet, but there also was great opportunity to share key messages, events and happenings from your school. This was a step up from what many had done previously, and it was great for a prospective student or parent to look up information on a school before committing to be part of that community.

As we have progressed, not only in our use of technology but also our understanding of effective leadership, we know that communication includes effective talking but, more importantly, listening. Being able to hear what is being said from those we serve is extremely important to how we develop our schools, and the conversation is extremely valuable. Yet, many schools and organizations use social media in the old fashion: sharing information but not having a conversation. In reality, just because you have ears doesn’t mean you are listening.

Many businesses have a 1.0 mindset. They have a Twitter account to share sales, events or whatever with customers, and because of that type of information, they do have many followers. Yet, having followers does not mean that you have people who “buy” what you do or whom you are; they use your service because they have to, not because they are loyal. Schools should think about that as well. Would a parent or child want to stay in your school if there was another choice?

Recently, I wrote about United Airlines and its lack of response when dealing with my concerns about service. Its Twitter account seemingly is only about sharing information, not connecting with customers. The more savvy someone is with social media, the more frustrated the person will become with this approach, and if he or she has another option, the person will take it. Yet, someone such as Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi learned how to not only use Twitter but also to use it effectively to build his brand and win an election.

Ultimately, this is not about having a Twitter or Facebook account but about how we use it and about rethinking the work we do and how we connect to those we serve in our schools. Having a website on which YOU communicate while watching parents use a Twitter account through which THEY communicate doesn’t make sense anymore. We need to not only get into the same room but also talk when we are all there.

This post was originally shared on the SmartBlogs site.



  1. George, your post reminds me of a quote from Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky: "Media is actually like a triathlon, with three different events: people like to consume, but they also like to produce and share." Today's students come to us with an expectation that organizational communication is a two-way street. Embracing interactive, responsive dialogue with our communities will make our schools stronger and our students more engaged. Thanks for the post!

  2. Filtering what is important from the trash is the biggest problem. The trash can be important at some later date…sometimes we do not realize it. A medical diagnosis takes a few seconds to a minute in many cases…the rest is just «trash» to the physician. The whole idea behind listening/reading the trash is to stay in tune/ to comfort the person and to get to know a bit more about the person behind the words.
    To the patient the trash is the medical terms his doctor uses.

  3. What a great job highlighting how many missed opportunities there are for social media users, especially in education. I liked the idea that having a website just doesn't cut it anymore (did it ever?) and that we need to meet people where the conversation is happening. That's the savvy that is going to get us through the big shifts that are occurring right now in education. Effective communication will get us away from focusing on the technology (21 century learning) and prepare everyone for the 22 nd century which in my opinion is all about getting the message through all the noise.

  4. Thanks for sharing such insight thoughts about how to expand the learning network as educators, especially in the 21st century. Its true that educators must find a way to bring life in to the classroom by using these social sites effectively.

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