The other day I gave a presentation at the Four State Regional Teaching Conference entitled “Using Games, Social Media, and Mobile Devices in the Classroom”. In the presentation I mentioned that social media can be used in a variety of ways to enhance student engagement, and since most students already have a social media account they are more willing to use it. The question came up, then which social network, as an instructor do you sign up for in order to reach your students? Currently I would say they are 4 major players:
- Facebook – over 800 million users and almost all students have an account
- Twitter – set up for micro blogging (140 characters or less) more popular with older students and professionals
- Linkined – a professional social media site that aims at networking co-workers, employers and possible employees
- Google+ – the latest social media site, which lacks on users currently but aims to over take Facebook
So, which one to use? Personally I use all 4. I have an account to each one, this ensure I reach everyone on each of these networks to spread my message. Now, the question is how to maintain and update these networks without having to send the same message 4 times?
The answer is syncing. There are several available methods out there to sync each of these sites together, which allows you to log in to one network, make a post and it automatically feeds into the others. There are different methods to do this, but I personally like feeding my Twitter account to the others. Why? Because Twitter, unlike the other networks limit your post to 140 characters. If I say feed my Facebook post to Twitter the whole post may not be sent and it might appear odd or incomplete to my Twitter followers. Twitter, however will make sure that you keep within the limit of 140 characters before posting, this ensures that the identical posts will be submitted everywhere.
Syncing Twitter to Facebook & Linkined
So how does it work? Well, there are several tutorials already written on the topic online, below you can link to them:
Syncing Google+ to Twitter
Now Google+ is a different story. Although Google+ offers some nice features, they are limited their users count by not being cross connected with other sites. In other words you can’t at this time post your Twitter feeds to Google+. There are Google+ applications that allow you to view your Twitter account in Google+, but all your doing is viewing your stream from Twitter, it won’t post your tweets for your circles to see in Google+. The only work around this issue is an extension in Google+. The extension only works if you are using Google Chrome browser, but it allows you to send your Google+ post to Twitter, and from there Twitter will push your tweet to Facebook and Linkined.
- Google+ to Twitter
Although this work around works well, I must admit, I still don’t really use Google+ as much as I’d like. The reason is I have to be logged into Google+ and using Chrome in order to hit all 4 social sites with a single post. The problem is I usually send posts from my phone using the HootSuite app (http://hootsuite.com), this means it will never be sent to Google+.
HootSuite App is pretty nifty by the way, with a free account you can log into 5 different accounts, including multiple twitter accounts, Facebook and Linkined. From the app you can view streams from each network and when you go to send a post you can send it to each network at once. This can be used as alternative to setting up a sync for each account, since HootSuite takes care of it for you. Note that if you do have your accounts synced and then you send for example a post to both Twitter and Facebook via HootSuite, you’ll get double posts on Facebook, because one is coming form HootSuite and the other is coming via the Twitter sync.
HootSuite can be used online in the browser from http://hootsuite.com or you can download their mobile app, which is available for various devices ( I use both the iPhone and iPad app). To see a list of HootSuite mobile apps visit http://hootsuite.com/mobile
Syncing WordPress to Twitter
The last syncing I like to do is an update when I have posted a new blog post on my site. My website (akramsideas.com) uses the open-source WordPress CMS (content management system) as its back-end, which really allows for a lot features including plug-ins. One of my favorite plug-ins is Twitter Tools, which once installed will allow you to display your current tweets on your site and automatically send a tweet about new blog posts. If your familiar with WordPress the installation of Twitter Tools is straight forward. In the dashboard of WordPress, select Plugins and then search for Twitter Tools, once you find it install it and activate it. After activating it you’ll need to go to the plug-ins setting to set up the connection, but that’s it. For more info on Twitter Tools you can visit them at http://bit.ly/cTHwZz
I hope this has provided you with some ways to sync up your accounts.