The next section of Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course covers using Twitter. The bigger purpose is to build professional community. I’ve been using Twitter for twelve years, so I didn’t need to start from scratch. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to review how I use Twitter. I’ve challenged myself to determine how I can better use it to serve my learning and professional relationship-building goals.
What I’ve learned as I’ve reviewed who I had been following has been astounding. First, approximately a third of these accounts had not posted recently (in 2021, that is)—and quite a few had not used Twitter for more than five years. I recognized many of these accounts as belonging to former students. That by itself didn’t surprise me, given how I urged them to use Twitter for educational and networking purposes. That most of them had ceased using Twitter left me little reason to continue to follow them. That said, I’ll admit that I experienced a brief moment of regret in doing so, i.e., how could I unfollow my students?
I was surprised to find in this group of quiet accounts a good number that had ceased using Twitter in early-mid 2020. I suspect that decision in some way related to the pandemic and its negative impact on organizations and individuals alike. That is, certain activities had to fall by the wayside with Twitter use being one of them. Some of these accounts had an impressive number of followers (10,000 plus), moreover.
I identified a second group of accounts that I couldn’t determine why I was following in the first place. My guess is that they came across one of my tweets, followed me, and I felt obligated to reciprocate. I’ve dropped most of these accounts.
A third group of accounts consisted of several categories. The first were “digital marketers” or “social media consultants.” There are an awful lot of people who describe their work in these terms. The second category consisted consultants and coaches active in areas I’m interested in (e.g., leadership). The third category included what I call one-way tweeters. These accounts share information that's largely marketing oriented, but haven’t responded to my past questions or comments. I’ve pruned this group considerably, one account at a time, after reviewing some of their recent tweets. I’ll admit that in doing so I felt a pang of remorse—i.e., they’d take it personally and unfollow me. Yet I know it’s time to clarify why I’m using the platform, and I simply can no longer follow accounts that don’t relate to my interests.
That leaves me with about half as many accounts to follow as I had at the start of this week. And I’m still going through them, one by one, as I get clearer why I follow who I’ve been following and why I plan to continue to follow them.
The 1,170 accounts I’m following at present generally fall into the following categories:
- My employers (universities) and related entities (e.g., public affairs at these university)
- Public relations practitioners, as I remain active in the field even though I’m not currently practicing
- Public relations academics, as I have written and done research in the discipline
- Academics representing a broad range of fields
- Higher education administrators
- Teachers in higher education, as that’s my primary occupation
- Adult learning
The vast majority of accounts I follow are US-based individuals and organizations. I want to do more work internationally, so I plan to follow additional accounts from outside the U.S. in one of the categories I’ve identified above.
No doubt my assessment of Twitter will continue throughout this class, and well into the future. Stay tuned for my further thoughts on the topic.