July 28, 2013

The trappings of social media

As my readers know, I'm a huge fan of social media. I love social  bookmarking sites, like Diigo, book networks like Goodreads and, of course, sharing sites like Twitter.

I've written widely on the value of social media in the classroom, and I speak loudly about their dangers and how to avert them.
Now that I'm a full-time writer and education consultant, though, I find myself using social media more than ever, as a promotional tool. I use Facebook to promote my books and LinkedIn to promote me as a consultant. I have suddenly become obsessed with using social media as one giant commercial tool.
Photo credit: nonprofitspam.wordpress.com

Today, this social media trap taught me a valuable lesson.

I tried something new. I got an invite from a trusted online source, and the next thing I knew I was uploading my LinkedIn connections to this new social network as "colleagues." Little did I know that when I did this, the nefarious program would automatically generate a very "spammy" email to all of my LinkedIn connections.

Before I knew it, my inbox was overflowing with emails from connections, asking me about this. Suddenly, I was doing damage control, explaining to people that I had no idea an email would even be sent.

After some contemplation, I realized I was more mad at myself than I was at the company. How could I, someone with years of experience with web tools and social networks, make a mistake like this? Then, it dawned on me that I'd been caught in the trappings of social media -- the obsession of omnipresence.

So, am I shutting down my social media accounts and unplugging from the Internet? Of course not. Will I discontinue all promotional posts? No.

What I can promise any reader or social  media connection of mine is that I'll never make the mistake I made today, in search of popularity and omnipresence.

Oh, and the next time I have the opportunity to discuss social media use with teachers or students, I'll be sure to share this experience with them. You should do the same.

Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, now available in the ASCD store, Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com

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