Many people talking abouteverything and everything on the internet– not much of it is not substantive. Very general keywords in our areas of focus – K-12 and early childhood education, out-of-school time, children’s health Google news searches would pull up anything and everything with those keywords, including – inexplicably – references to Al Queda.
Set up a listening station on Google Reader to help filter some of the content. Social Mention to generate RSS feeds for searches using keywords – including keywords to exclude. Google AdWords for additional keywords function on Social Mention, and generated RSS feeds for these searches. Hash-tags most helpful in honing in on relevant content.
A lot of “junk” content was able to make it though, including the Korean pop band “After School.” Most relevant content was coming from three primary platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Stopped “listening” to the other sources I could start to see patterns in who were the primary posters of and responders to summer and afterschool related content.
Engagement stage of my experiment, narrowed my focus further to listening and responding on Twitter. (Most of the active posters on Facebook also posted on Twitter.) Goal to find the influencers and engage themListened to find who was posting most relevant content most relevant to my issuesGauged “popularity” – who re-tweeted or tweeted at them, how many followers, etc. Also followed their followers.
People and organizations are talking to people like them, with the same interests, and information is flowing in a closed loop. Example: study tweeted by education reporters than between and among education advocates. Good to share information with allies, but not a very good way to make friends outside of your social circle. people and organizations who were talking about my issues, but in a different way and different context. Example: parent twitterers and nature groups.
Parents and Nature groups are key stakeholders but wouldn’t have necessarily thought of as people I could/should engage. Listened closely to their conversations and took advantage of opportunities to engage them in dialog. Example: parent chat.
Overall, I’d say that this experiment has taught me two important things: I don’t have to listen to everything being said on the internet. It’s not all relevant;2) Simply tweeting to the choir is not sufficient. There are many potential stakeholders and allies out there who share interest in the same issues, but may look at them from a different lens. The key is to really listen to their conversations to see where your interests intersect and where your input can be interesting/relevant/helpful, and then take a risk and initiate contact.