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 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 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+
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.
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. 


  1. Brilliant post, Lisa. Informative, concise, specific.

    Question: does Google+ offer a private environment, where students can create work that only that student and teachers can see? This is a definite need that few web hosts/networks offer.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. I am integrating this into my online AP classes, both video and just chat. I think this is a great way to have a discussion without going to a blackboard, and easier.

  3. An excellent distinction, not only, but a clear crips and consice comparison.

  4. @ Mark Barnes you could probably develop a circle that is for students only.

  5. Ok, Veri good article, but i have a question. Do you prefer google+ or edmodo. I think edmodo is a very good educational tool

  6. Great post, thanks! I still have to work on Google+, I'll bear these advantages in mind!

  7. I wonder what the barriers will be for getting a school to use G+ for all it's classrooms. I'm thinking about the fact that you have to have a account and then there's the "accidental" post of pictures to other circles. Plus how could a school manage all their classrooms from G+. It's not a group management tool for an organization.

    I should disclose that I am trying to learn as much as possible about how schools will be using social networking tools because I'm with a company that's beginning to cater our software to schools...preschools in particular. We have a private group collaboration tool called MemberHub that several preschools really love. This came as a surprise to us because we've been serving churches, nonprofits and other member organizations.

    Your blog seems like a great place for me to learn more. Thanks for making the discussion possible! If you'd like to learn more about me you can check out

  8. @mark Barnes, what @Harry Wood said is correct. You would put your target audience in a circle.

    @profccnn I prefer real world tools.

    @Matt Harrell,
    1) You don't need a gmail account. You can sign up with any email.
    2) Teaching students how and what to post and/or delete responsibly is the job of educators.
    3) They could manage classrooms by placing them each in a circle.

    I believe this will be a seamless and real-world extension to the Google Apps for education suite. It's also free.

  9. I translated and at to my friends.

    I hope you don´t mind

    Thanks you very much

  10. Thanks for the reply Lisa! Yea, I feel like preschools is certainly a market on its own because of the high level of collaboration b/w teachers and parents (as opposed to teachers and students). And I wonder about the communication medium and organization of content type in a "stream". It will definitely be interesting to see how far integration b/w G+ and Apps will go. I didn't realize that you can sign up for G+ with any

  11. @profccnn, That's great. Please do share any comments here that you think might be of interest.

  12. @Matt Harrell, Did you read this post, "8 Real Ways Facebook Enriched Ms. Schoening’s First Grade Class"

    I like using Facebook for parents because it is a real-world tool that already exists in their world.

  13. Hi,

    Just posted a link to this on the TeachingEnglish facebook page if you'd like to check for comments.

    Please feel free to post there when you have anything you think is relevant to ELT teachers and would like to share.



  14. Facebook has to be scared. You see: Twitter is like a huge public square, where everyone can go to hear the comments, opinions and so on... to follow ideas, etcétera. In facebook, you should be allowed to get in a particular network in order to read and participate in the discussions. This facebook system ask people to request to get into a network...

    Because of this, it is more often that people set their profiles private... yesterday I read a blog about travel, and the author has the Facebook follow button... when I clicked, she´s Facebook page was private only to those she invited.

    In the opposite, Google+ allow people to get in a particular network of a persona (in this case, the blogger could have had a circle named "followers"). In this way, people do not have to make their profile private,but could set their private circle and their public circles. ... so this blogger could have a circle of their followers (I could be one) to share travel tips and experiences... and other circle just of her friends.

    That is why I think Facebook should be scared... Twitter is most like a fast exchange of ideas, moods, info, etc. for everyone... that makes Twitter a great tool (in Mexico we use it to inform each other about crime shootings, police delinquency, etc. )

    But we will see... in this technology field anything could happend... do you remember myspace popularity?

  15. One benefit of Facebook for me is that's where the majority of the people I know are. While 10 million G+ users isn't anything to put our noses up at, it will take time for people to migrate. But that doesn't mean we can't forge new connections on Google+!

  16. This is a great post Lisa, very informative and concise. I think it's usually a good idea to share ideas about the pros and cons of comparable helps people to sort out what they want to use to achieve certain ends.

    Along those lines, I've started curating 3 sites on and am finding this a very productive venture.In less than 2 months I will have over 10,000 hits and about 200 followers. I can select and republish articles, websites, and videos and comment on them, or anything else, to my heart's content. Others may comment as well, although this has not taken off yet as a heavily used feature of One may also use like a blog, writing original posts of any length and inserting images and videos where desired.

    My three sites are:

    -Into The Driver's Seat: (Building the independence of learners through thoughtful uses of technology)

    -The 4th Era: (Exploration of the new era in human history marked by invention of the Internet)

    -Scriveners' Trappings: (Aids and resources for writers and teachers of writing - just started this week!)

    Curating this way is somewhat akin to publishing one's own little version of Huffington Post (with image, video, and social capabilities). opened to the general public (came out of beta) around Dec. 1. Since then, its growth has been pretty phenomenal, I think. I much prefer to (a similar service that consolidates one's feeds and publishes them in an attractive one-page format). I find more attractive, more customizable, and not as overwhelming in terms of the sheer volume of information readers have to deal with on a daily basis.

    I'm wondering if there are others out there who have experience with curating and what they think of it. I'm enjoying it very much and learning a great deal. Of course it's also sucking up a lot of time...but so far I feel it's been well spent.

    IMO, curating is something to be added to the menu of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and blogs.

  17. Social network development has changed a lot and is rapidly growing with new features. Thanks for letting me know about how to use them in a great way.

  18. Great review Lisa on social media networks I love the post