Know Your Audience (The Twitter Mistake)

Twitter Fail WhaleWhen creating higher education materials (learning environments, admissions information, document archives, etc.) is important to know how students are accessing the Internet , what types of sites/tools their using and the context of use for those sites.  An admissions director at Bloomfield College found this out the hard what happens when we ignore the media use patters of the target audience. His admission officials used Twitter to post updates about the college. Unfortunately, his Tweets were mostly being read by other admissions officials. According to a recent study, only 15% of prospective students use Twitter to find out information about colleges (compared to 40% of admissions officials).  This study analyzes Twitter use by teens as it relates to college admission, but ignores the fact that teens generally don’t Tweet. This is an important point to bring up because the admissions officials may think “Oh, it’s bad for admissions but some other higher education department can use Twitter to reach teens.” According to a Mashable article, teens don’t use Twitter as heavily as Facebook because Twitter is more for retweeting items than sharing social information about friends. This article could turn into an exhaustive piece about Twitter, so I will stop here with the major take away: Know Your Audience. Are your students blogging or microblogging? Are they using laptops or mobile phones to access the web? Would they even consider doing anything academic on Facebook?