Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

Does audience matter? When composing a presentation for a specific group–Yes. But what about your tweets, blogs, and professional postings on social media? Does audience matter there?

At a recent edcamp, I watched two, well-respected educators I really admire openly disagree about the importance of an educator’s audience online. In addition, my daily interactions with various networks have supported both schools of thought, here. Oh–and you guessed it–I’ve also drawn my own conclusions.

Opinion A: Audience does NOT matter.

Many educators claim that they’d still tweet, blog, and post for professional growth benefits, even if they didn’t have one single follower. The opportunity, space, and intentional routine to individually reflect, learn, and grow is so valuable, that it’s the very essence of rediscovering the educator WHY. For many, it may be the times invested in these reflective archives that keeps them… keeping on in a profession otherwise overshadowed by the potentially negative.

Opinion B: Audience DOES matter.

Educators are public servants. While their total influence isn’t easily measured, their audience reach may be even harder to bookend. Especially in the Age of Information, with content tweeted from fingertips to the world in just one click, educators need to be aware that their audience of colleagues, parents, students, employers, and the world is always watching. If educators include inflammatory phrases or cuss words in their posts, then they can expect their students to do the same in their learning spaces.

In addition, professional learning network members challenge and push each other’s thinking. They promote meaningful conversations by liking, retweeting, and replying to each other’s tweets; sharing, reposting, and commenting on each other’s blogs; and even sharing across social media, such as facebook, linkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

It’s not just about one educator’s post; it’s about how others interact with it.

Professional growth–beyond our own mind–wouldn’t be cultivated, challenged, or redirected without an audience. It’s the sharing of our archives that starts conversations to drive change to make learning experiences better for our students.

My Opinion: BOTH are right. Here’s why:

If audience did not matter, then I would hand-write my professional thoughts and reflections on papers and napkins, and stuff them in my sock drawer, so to speak. Because audience DOES matter, I share my thoughts online frequently–sometimes provokingly–just to start a conversation–because I know my networks will challenge me, enhance my perspective, and help me grow as a professional and a person. Think I’m joking? Have you SEEN my PLN members? I LOVE THEM. They have literally changed my life.

Telling your school’s story to your community matters.

But Opinion A is always right, too, because educators too often get mixed up in other issues, and lose WHY they archive and share in the first place. Opinion A is THAT important. Just like you would begin planning a learning experience with a curriculum objective; learning target; or wonderment inquiry, start with Opinion A. Start with WHY.

Where #AudienceMatters gets a bad rap, is when it’s confused with motives rooted in vanity, analytics, statistics, self-worth, and pride. For example:

  • I see several educators really worried about their followers-to-following ratio. If you unfollow three educators because only two educators started following you today… Nothing could be more insincere or shallow than this. If you’re playing this game, please leave social media as an educator.
  • If you know that you have 2,400 followers instead of 2,398 followers, some would say that you may have a problem.
  • Don’t just follow fellow educators who follow you–Celebrate them. When educators follow each other, they open up direct-messaging channels and opportunities for more interaction.
  • If you’re MORE interested in building a brand and outsourcing student learning experiences for your own profit, then please leave social media AND education.
  • Be an educator in the life of a student for the right reasons.

  • #AudienceMatters to #Hashtag180, too. Throughout this blog, we cited our top three reasons for hashtagging, as composed in red-letter words: Archive, Share, and Tell. 

One Reply to “#AudienceMatters”

  • Here’s why I push so hard against the #audiencematters argument, Kyle: People who are new to social spaces have learned to judge the value of the work they are doing in those spaces by the reactions they are getting from audiences.

    They think that page views and followers and likes and retweets are indicators that their thinking has value and that there time in social spaces is well spent.

    Do you see how dangerous that is?

    If page views and retweets and favorites are the motivation for reflection, MOST of us are going to be REALLY unmotivated — and if we are comparing ourselves against the likes, page views, retweets and favorites that some of the uber-influencers in education’s social spaces, we are going to feel even WORSE.

    Someone who comes into things like blogging and Tweeting with the notion that #audiencematters are going to give up as soon as they see that there really ISN’T a big audience for your work.

    If you buy into #audience matters, you quit quick after spending two hours writing a blog post to get 17 views or share out thoughts in Twitter 5 times a day without ever getting a reply.

    What I push people to realize is that audience is nice — it does provide challenge to your thinking. But it isn’t guaranteed to anyone — and it takes a long time and some deliberate efforts to finally develop an audience.

    But that doesn’t mean that the time spent blogging and Tweeting is wasted. Views aren’t how we should evaluate the time that we invest in social spaces. Our own intellectual growth matters WAY more than views — and that happens regardless of whether one has an audience or not.

    Does that make sense?

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

%d bloggers like this: