Social networking is it really the number of followers?

I have set myself a bit of a challenge …….. to see how many followers I can get on twitter.  At the moment I am six shy of 500.  Now the first question you might ask yourself is ‘why would you care how many followers you have?’.  That is a good question.  What benefit is there to continually pursue followers if you will never have a relationship with  them?

I think the real challenge is to increase your followers by building strong relationships that have a benefit to both parties.

I started to reflect about how I use social media. I use twitter to find information and push out information to those who have similar interests to me.  I use facebook to foster relationships with family and friends.  So, is there really a benefit in social networking?

Then I came across this youtube:

The speaker in the youtube above makes his point in a very short timeframe.  There is limited benefit of having lots of followers if you never really have a relationship with them.  Althoughthe speaker is talking about the benefits social networking in business it did start me thinking about the benefits of social networking in education.

In this next youtube video, University of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow talks about the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace in Education.  She presents some good ideas and some interesting ways you can use these tools to enhance learning, but can you see any benefits for having a large number of followers?

Social media can have place in building social networks between educational staff within your own institution and outside your institution, but it is definately not about the number of followers or contacts in your network.  If used effectively social media sites can promote collaboration, sharing of ideas and resources.

There is also great potential to expand the networking opportunities of staff and students located in regional and isolated environments.  But before you run off and include social media in your class activities, think about how you can use the applications you have chosen, what their purpose will be and how staff and students will communicate with others to promote collaboration and share knowledge.

If the purpose is clearly defined and your staff and students can see the benefits of using your chosen applications, they are more likely to commit the activities planned.  Your lessons will be more effective, and your social networks will be more effective.

Do you have tips to share with others about how you use social networking in education?

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