Sunday, July 17, 2011

Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs - When and Why to Use Each

After week one I shared my thoughts about “What Google+ Means for Education.”  I’m on week two now and the big questions are:
  • Do I really need to join another social network?
    Answer: Yes.
  • If I join Google+ can I give up Facebook, Twitter, and blogs?
    Answer: No.
  • What is the benefit of each?
    Answer: See below.
Here is where each social media platform shines and why you use each.

Twitter
Twitter has some important advantages over the other social media contenders.  
  • Mobile use
    Hands down, Twitter is the mobile app winner.  You can create and consume Tweets on the go without the need for internet and 3G
  • Online space feedsTwitter easily and instantly feeds quick updates into your online spaces and places i.e. websites, blogs, wikis, etc.
  • Hashtags
    Twitter is great for tracking and discussing topics of interest using hashtags.  This has been incredibly powerful for my learning during conferences.  It can also be powerful for teachers whose students are following a current event topic or using a tag within a unit of study.  
Facebook
Facebook has a few advantages over other social media options.  I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.
  • Facebook groups
    Groups have become a great place for people with common interests to come together and discuss topics about which they are passionate.  Unlike Google+ circles, you go to the page and it’s always there for you.  I think the communities built here will stay here.  
  • Young peopleFacebook will reign as the “social” networking platform for young people.  Let’s say those under 30.  Many have grown up on Facebook and it’s where they like to communicate, connect, and play.  
  • What else?
    At the moment I can’t think of another way Facebook shines over Google+
Blogs
For those with a message to spread or agenda to achieve, blogs reign king.  
  • Publishing place
    Blogs will remain a great place to share and publish thoughts and ideas.  
  • Tags and Labels
    The tagging or labeling of posts makes blogs a great place to be able to locate an author’s thinking on topics of interest.
  • Brand managementBlogs provide a great forum to promote your ideas and develop your image or online brand.
Google+
I am finding Google+ has many advantages over some other social media options.  
  • ConversationsI recently wrote a blog post that I shared on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  Here is what happened.  
    • A few people retweeted it and replied to the Tweet.
    • A couple people commented on Facebook.
    • A half-dozen commented on my blog post.
    • About 50 (and counting) responses were made on Google+
Of all the social media platforms, Google+ seems to me, to be the best platform for having a conversation.  Advantages over others are:
    • You can select / target who is seeing your comment.  They know you are specifically thinking about them.
    • Unlimited characters.
    • You can edit mistakes.
    • You can follow the conversation easily.
  • VideoThe Google+ Hangouts are an easy and great way to connect face-to-face with up to ten people.  The other social media platforms don’t have this integrated functionality.  Even when Facebook gets Skype, it’s not as good and doesn’t allow for ten people at once.
  • Circles
    This is what is going to make the over 30 crowd happy.  You can directly control who sees your information so that privacy that folks were craving now exists.  It’s also nice because you’re not inundating your friends with work updates or work people with pictures of your nephew.  
  • Education
    Google+ will be the first real-world, social media tool adopted by educators for use with students because of its privacy features and its integration with Google Apps for Ed.  Educators will have gone down the path of fed regulations already and will be familiar with the parental consent needed for those under 13. 
Like many things in life, it’s not about the one-size-fits all solution, but rather finding the right tool in the shed to accomplish the task at hand. 
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